Having fun and being healthy

Posted 6/15/22

BETHEL, NY — On the evening of Tuesday, June 7, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts event gallery hosted Sullivan 180’s Empowering …

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Having fun and being healthy


BETHEL, NY — On the evening of Tuesday, June 7, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts event gallery hosted Sullivan 180’s Empowering a Healthier Generation (EHG) Turtle Awards ceremony.

A story was shared about a boy who threw a single starfish back into the water. His father asked why; one starfish didn’t make a difference. And the boy replied, “To that starfish, it did.”

Similar to this story, there was an air of community pride as various schools and organizations gathered to celebrate in the name of collective impact and the commitment to making a difference—one degree, one step, one student at a time.

The EHG program is a response to Sullivan County’s next-to-last health ranking in New York State, and the fact that 95 percent of healthcare money goes to treatment, rather than prevention.

Sandra Gerry, founding chair of Sullivan 180—a nonprofit organization created to improve the health and well-being of Sullivan County residents—discussed the importance of raising physically, mentally and spiritually healthy children in the county, and that was a large reason for starting the EHG program.

In one of the Sullivan 180 information booklets, the organization said that there is statistical evidence to support the idea that when children are healthier, they learn better, retain more knowledge, are more present and report better mental health. The intention behind this program is to not only help community members get healthier together, but to make a more long-lasting change. It would empower the next generation to make healthier choices through fun and interesting school-wide activities in nutrition, physical activity, mental health and connection to nature—and with collaborations between students, staff, parents and the community at large.

“When kids are having fun being healthy, it’s so much more impactful,” said Dr. Robert Dufour, district superintendent of Sullivan County BOCES.

It was unanimous among the teachers, counselors and community resource organizations present that the EHG program is doing great things for the schools. Not only are 100 percent of the 21 schools in Sullivan County committed to the program, but each school building is also staffed with its own Healthier Generation advisor who helps the school address individual needs based on the neighborhoods served. That person connects those in need with partnering organizations to provide the most appropriate programming, services and resources.

Such activities and partnerships have included, but are not limited to, sculpture gardens, outdoor classrooms, walking paths and nature trails, sensory hallways, yoga and mindfulness programs, buddy benches, virtual cooking classes, suicide prevention training and much more.

Sullivan 180, community health, Empowering a Healthier Generation, children


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