Touro-Harlem Medical Library Awarded Prestigious Grant to Teach Harlem Students about Health Literacy and Pharmaceutical Safety

Date: May 12, 2010
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Emmy Winner Ian Ellis James to Create Educational Videos for Students Grades Pre- K-2.

New York, N.Y. – The Touro-Harlem Medical Library has been awarded a competitive $30,000 grant to create a health literacy program for underserved populations. Funding for the new program - “HealthStart!”- will be provided by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services. The library is one of only two institutions in the mid-Atlantic region to be awarded such a grant.

The Touro-Harlem Medical Library, which opened in September 2007, provides information and resources in the areas of basic science, bio-medicine, health, pharmacy and public health to support the curriculum and research goals of the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Touro College of Pharmacy and Touro‟s Master of Science degree program.

“Given that the College of Pharmacy and the library are so new, we are very proud to receive such a prestigious award,” said Shelly Warwick, Ph.D., director of the Touro-Harlem Medical Library.

“HealthStart!” will teach health literacy and pharmaceutical safety to Harlem students, grades pre-K-2, as well as their parents and teachers, using various learning tools including video, school lesson plans, hands-on interactive sessions, and community outreach. The program is scheduled to launch at P.S. 197 in Harlem in the fall with an animated video and support materials designed for early and pre-readers.

The video will be developed by seven-time Emmy award winner Ian Ellis James, who created the Hip Hop Stroke video for The National Stroke Association and Harlem Hospital. Among other messages, the video will instruct students to be proactive and ask questions about medicines they receive and tell their parent or guardian about symptoms they experience.

Going forward, the intent is to expand the project to focus on successive age groups, up through high school seniors. Age-appropriate videos and other material will be created to capture, in style and content, the attention and interest of each group.

HealthStart! is being developed by the Touro-Harlem Medical Library, the Touro College of Pharmacy, and Touro‟s “Project Aspire,” a public health initiative of the Children‟s Health Education Foundation at Touro College, which has experience in bringing real-life, interactive lessons and demonstrations into schools to encourage students to lead healthy lifestyles.

“The goal is to create a program that can be used in other Harlem schools, and eventually throughout the entire country,” said Stuart Feldman, Ph.D., dean of the Touro College of Pharmacy, adding that in addition to classroom instruction, students will be brought to the Touro-Harlem Medical Library and the Touro College of Pharmacy for interactive group learning sessions.

Community outreach events will be held at P.S. 197 and other local organizations to inform parents about the program and give them the opportunity to improve their own health literacy. An e-mail support service, staffed by librarians and Touro College of Pharmacy faculty, will be established for parents to ask questions about pharmaceutical safety.

Craig Kovera, Ph.D., associate professor at the Touro College of Pharmacy, and co-project manager of the grant, said, “This is a great program because it involves teachers, students, parents, Touro College faculty, pharmacists, and the entire community.”

“Our outreach to students through 'Project Aspire’ over the years has energized young students and their families to explore healthy lifestyles through exercise and nutrition,” added Nicholas Aiello, Ph.D., education director of Touro‟s Children‟s Health Education Foundation. “This grant will allow us to create additional educational materials that truly engage the students and further advance the progress we‟ve made to date.”

The project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. NO1-LM-6-3501 with the New York University School of Medicine.