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New York CEC District 8 initiates FISH Project to improve Bronxites’ health conditions

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District 8 Superintendent Dr. Erika Tobia and her team and the District 8 Community Education Council under the leadership of  Farah Despeignes  have come with an initiative that is aimed at educating, motivating and elevating the students, their families through a comprehensive emphasis on personal health.

The initiative dubbed operation F.I.S.H. (Food, Innovation, Sustainability and Health) Project Action Plan through personal and community health, seeks to engage the communities in classes and activities on nutrition, community and family gardening, spiritual health, mental health, physical health and creating social and economic opportunities around health and food.

"Our desire is to lift our district out of some of its ailments into a “can do” attitude cloaked into self-empowerment, self-reliance and advocacy around food justice, health justice, environmental justice, and economic justice," said Despeignes.

She said District 8 will educate it's students and the community on the history and the current state of the Bronx in relations to health in all its aspects. 

Despeignes said District 8 will teach students and the community how to discard unhealthy habits and adopt healthy lifestyles. 

District 8 will teach students and the community how to create social hubs and economic opportunities around food

and health. 

"District 8 will teach students and the community about civic engagement and public advocacy, using components of Operation F.I.S.H. District 8 will facilitate the development of a community health plan by our students and community that can be utilized by the city, the state and the federal government to improve community health and community health education in some of the poorest and most underserved communities in the city, the state and the nation for the purpose of getting those communities to uplift themselves," she said.

Despeignes said the District intends to achieve it's goals through the reading/viewing of relevant texts/films by creating both school and community book/film clubs. 

She said District 8 will present community talks on related topics through webinars, town halls podcasts and media partnerships. 

"District 8 will form several partnerships (with relevant community organizations, such as the Bronx River Alliance, GeoAg, FAN4Kids, Lifestyle/Lifespan, Grow NYC, and government agencies) in order to access the tools and the resources that will enable us to have the necessary conversations, activate the community and take measurable action that will make a difference," she said.

Despeignes said District 8 will initiate advocacy campaigns that will require it's students and community to write letters, become presenters and panelists on the issues in diverse spaces, network and build coalitions, and construct community apparatuses that will sustain their work.

Among the topics Despeignes said will be tackled include, history of Health in the Bronx, current State of Health in the Bronx, the Intersection of Poverty, Health and Political Powerlessness, the Intersection of Agriculture, Economic Empowerment and Political empowerment, the Intersection of Nutrition, Physical Fitness, Mental Health, and Spiritual Health and taking a Look at Models of Comprehensive Community Health Plans.

Others will include, how to Develop a District 8 Comprehensive Community Health Plan, planning, Strategies, Tactics & Measurable Progress, building Partnerships and Coalitions, being Heard and earned media attention.

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