The Children’s Lifestyle, Diet, and Exercise Intervention Project
The continuing goal of the the Children’s Lifestyle, Diet, and Exercise Intervention Project (The Children’s Project) at Mount Sinai Heart is to promote cardiovascular health in our city’s tiniest hearts. The Children’s Project aims to define the cardiovascular health of thousands of NYC children throughout elementary school, including the social and environmental determinants of health.
The project rests on direct health assessments and free medical counseling to children so families can better understand their child’s risk for future disease. By collecting this longitudinal information, we will understand how children’s health is changing as they age and when best to focus on future preventative strategies. A pioneering initiative offered to elementary schools throughout New York City’s five boroughs, the Children’s Project will last from kindergarten to fifth grade in schools, with health assessments taking place in kindergarten and third and fifth grade.
Parents will benefit from health assessments and free medical counseling through awareness of their child’s health needs and contact with Mount Sinai doctors. On the other hand, schools involved in the Children’s Project will gain valuable information from the results of our study, leading to an understanding of the health of their student body.
Growing evidence implicates an unhealthy lifestyle in childhood as a major contributor to health loss and disease in adulthood. We believe that early intervention is the best way to protect NYC children from future diseases. While we wish to formally define the cardiovascular health of elementary school children, we also wish to improve it along the way. For this reason, our study offers selected schools a four-month in-school health education program, integrated into the normal school curriculum. Putting into action the insights developed in the Si! Program (Salud Integral-Comprehensive Health) over 10 years of heart health education in Colombia, Spain, and Harlem, NYC, the Children‘s Project will implement the SI!-Program NYC with the help of participating schools.
In order to test if the education program is effective at promoting health, we will split participating schools into two groups: a group that will receive health assessments, medical counseling, and an education program in kindergarten and third grade; and a group that will only receive the health assessments and medical counseling. All participants will benefit from the health assessments and medical counseling, independent of the group their school is assigned to. Our ultimate hope is not just to instill heart-healthy habits in children, their parents and caregivers, and their teachers, but also to encourage further preventative early childhood health education.
Last, we acknowledge the role that social and environmental factors play in the health of communities. Therefore, we will analyze factors such as socioeconomic status, teacher characteristics, and environmental pollution to understand how they may impact a child’s health.
How We Began
The Children‘s Project began in the winter of 2020 as a pilot study in five NYC public schools. In the fall of 2022, the full study launched, initially recruiting in Manhattan before expanding to all five boroughs. However, our background in childhood health interventions goes back much earlier. Children‘s Project applies evidence-based practices developed over decades of past research led by our principal investigator, Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, President of Mount Sinai Heart. The project builds upon the success of the FAMILIA Project in Harlem and similar programs in Bogota, Colombia, and throughout Spain. The American Heart Association recognized Dr. Fuster's successful research findings as one of the top 10 research advances of 2013. After years of further research, Dr. Fuster continues to push for community health and preventative medicine through the work in the Children’s Lifestyle, Diet, and Exercise Intervention Project.
Members of the public, organizations, and companies can get involved with the Children‘s Project of Mount Sinai Heart by volunteering their time or expertise.
Department of Volunteer Services
The Mount Sinai Hospital
One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029
Tel : 212-241-0478