Kids flocked to the clown painting faces as music played in the background. Some posed with the Brooklyn Cyclones’ mascot Pee-Wee or the Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield mascot Catboy on the basketball courts at Martin Luther Playground, Second Avenue and 55th Street in Sunset Park.
Throughout the rest of the playground, tables were spread out for fun activities, like balloon animals; in addition, there were free snacks and other giveaways provided by event sponsors and city agencies. The family-themed event on Tuesday, August 14 was part of the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone’s celebration of National Health Center Week, August 12 to 18.
“Health centers are federally funded facilities. They’re nationally celebrated,” Executive Director of Family Health Centers at NYU Langone Larry McReynolds said. “In this community we partner with other agencies to address all of the community needs. It’s about opportunity.”
Other tables offered health screenings, as well as educational materials on nutrition and sexual health, proper dental hygiene and immunizations.
Community organizations, such as MercyFirst, Grandma’s Love, SNAP and CAMBA, offered sign-ups and information on topics ranging from foster care and adoption to support of pregnant women and early childcare to homelessness prevention. In addition, adults could register to vote on site with the Family Health Centers advocacy team.
Miguel Barrios, Family Health Centers at NYU Langone program director, said, “There’s not a lot of advertisement for these services, which is why events like these are good to reach out to the kids and their families.”
Long-time patient Gloria Flores and her doctor, Dr. Yar Pye, were given plaques and silk purple capes to symbolize the hospital’s 2018 FHC Super Hero Award. The award is for staff, provider, and patients who have gone above and beyond in supporting the health centers’ mission.
Pye, who has treated Flores for 19 years, said she was a hard worker who takes advantage of all the services provided.
In addition to fun reading materials, NYU Langone Health also handed out backpacks filled with basic school supplies to the dozens of neighborhood children in attendance.
Leslie Simonetti, an NYU Langone Board of Trustees member from Bensonhurst, said, “It’s not very rich, this neighborhood, but people know that they can get help.”
During National Health Center Week, facilities across the country throw similar events to showcase a network of resources that provide communities access to affordable and available healthcare.
The Family Health Centers at NYU Langone has been in operation for 51 years.