Backpacks filled with school supplies went out to over 200 kids at Sunset Park’s Martin Luther Playground, thanks to the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone.
“Kids, when they go back to school need to be ready physically, mentally and emotionally — and that means making sure you get your eyes checked, your teeth checked,” said Executive Director Larry McReynolds during the event, held on Thursday, August 10 at the playground, Second Avenue and 56th Street, across the street from the hospital. “We have a lot of people, from ethnically diverse communities, and I think people are afraid of Trump taking away insurance. We’re a federally qualified health center and we are here to reassure that we care for you regardless of your status.”
The event was also meant to celebrate National Health Center Week, a movement the hospital takes part in every year.
In English and Spanish, visiting parents and members of the community talked to medical professionals about their dental care, one nurse even recognizing a child patient and checking on his sealant.
On the more active side, kids got their faces and arms painted as they lined up between tables, and brushed the teeth of plush toys with toothbrushes half their size. As for the backpacks? It turned out the 250-odd bags were financed by the employees of NYU Langone, many of them going out to patients who regularly visit the center.
“We go to the doctors because my children need to be cared for. I have no fear when it comes to going to a doctor,” said mother Ofelia Galindo.
“My mom keeps up with staying healthy at home,” said Christina Williams, 15, as her siblings pressed into her. “We eat vegetables, we brush our teeth.”
With many of the tables sponsored by Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, there was much to occupy attendees. In the background, dance music kept kids busy during a nutritional health workshop. One table was occupied by the NYC Department of Emergency Management.
“People often update their schools with medical information, why not update your emergency plan,” said representative Katie James.
Hers was among the tables offering educational pamphlets in both Spanish and English; one table also included literature in Chinese.