The Children‘s Project SI! Program-NYC curriculum is designed to promote heart health and healthy habits in the classroom and the school environment. Ultimately, the SI! Program-NYC aims to develop a culture of health in all five boroughs of NYC.

Child Interventions

Our four-month heart health education program intervention is part curriculum and part school intervention designed to engage young children, their families, teachers, and the school. The curriculum comprises four units, each with fun videos, songs, interactive lessons, and play-based health learning activities.

The curriculum covers the following themes:

  • Body and heart
  • Physical activity
  • Healthy diet
  • Emotional management

Another feature of the curriculum is the characters that help guide and support the lessons throughout the course of the program, like Dr. Ruster, a Muppet version of our principal investigator, Dr. Fuster, and Cardio, an energetic cartoon heart who helps children think about their choices and habits. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai would also like to gratefully acknowledge the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces Sesame Street, for making the Sesame Street characters and content available from its Healthy Habits for Life and Sesame Street in Communities programs for use in educating children and their families in connection to this project.

The program is partly based on and adapted from educational initiatives by Sesame Workshop and the Foundation for Science, Health, and Education. We use interactive resources and age-appropriate materials to support and teach young children about Heart Health themes, and healthy habits. In addition, while providing training and coaching to teachers throughout the intervention.

Listed below are some of the objectives of the SI! Program-NYC: 

  • Understanding the function of the heart in the body.
  • Understanding the importance of daily physical activity.
  • Observing the relationship between movement and the heartbeat.
  • Making a connection between physical activity and diet.
  • Creating a healthy relationship with food.
  • Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Learning to express, recognize, and handle big emotions.

We are assessing the impact of our program on children’s physical activity and food consumption through questionnaires; measurements such as height, weight, and blood pressure; technology that includes wearable fitness trackers such as Fitbits; and qualitative interviews with trained children’s education specialists. Children will have health measurements in kindergarten and third and fifth grade.

Parent and Teacher Involvement

As part of our multi-level intervention, teachers will receive training on the SI! Program NYC curriculum that includes information on a healthy diet, the importance of physical activity, and health-promoting lifestyle decisions. Parents will take part in specially designed family activities, as well as receive newsletters with information on the SI! Program, aiming to create a culture of health. Our goal with the Children’s Program is to increase the benefit to the children by involving the primary members of their immediate environment: teachers and family.  

Both parents and teachers involved in the Children‘s Project will also receive assessment questionnaires that will address physical activity levels, food intake, smoking habits, and quality of life. We will also record the height, weight, and blood pressure of teachers and parents (self-reported) in a continuing effort to involve and support the entire school community in our push for heart health.

We hope that through the consistent involvement of parents and teachers in our health intervention, we can improve the health of children who may be at higher risk for cardiovascular disease or who have a barrier to maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle. This goal will support our mission of creating long-lasting lifestyle changes for young children and their families.

Our Schools

The Children‘s Project is currently in the process of recruiting NYC elementary schools, including public, non-public, parochial, and charter schools, for participation in our study. We wish to recruit a set of schools that reflect the diversity of NYC and its inhabitants.