More Than 100 Youngsters From Harlem’s P.S. 197 Travel to Touro College to Thank the Founder and President Dr. Bernard Lander for Creating Project Aspire

Date: December 19, 2008
Media Contact:

Barbara Franklin
Director of Communications
212-463-0400 x5530

Touro’s Project Aspire Encourages Students to Explore Health Careers.

New York, N.Y. – In a special “Thank You” ceremony, more than 100 young students from P.S. 197 in Harlem traveled to Touro College last week to thank Dr. Bernard Lander, founder and president, Touro College, and Dr. Anthony J. Polemeni, vice president, Division of Graduate Studies, for creating Project Aspire.

The students, grades pre-kindergarten to first grade, presented Dr. Lander with a white lab coat that they wear, along with program-related photos in a shadow box frame with the inscription "Thank you Dr. Lander...Because of you, we believe." The gift was signed by all the students in the classes, their teachers, top school administrators, and Touro’s Project Aspire team.

Project Aspire brings real-life, interactive health education lessons and demonstrations into schools to encourage students to lead healthy lifestyles and to explore health careers, including becoming doctors. The students at P.S. 197 participated for the second year in Project Aspire, a public health initiative of the Children’s Health Education Foundation at Touro College.

“To see the young children and their enthusiasm for knowledge about health, and excitement for potential careers in the health field, is incredibly uplifting,” said Dr. Lander. “I have an abundance of faith in all of our futures because these children are learning about health and they remember so much of what they learn.”

Each time there is a Project Aspire event, the students wear miniature white lab coats, and they have participated in activities including learning about healthy bones with teaching model skeletons from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM) faculty and students, and partnered with Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet Institute, to learn about healthy nutrition and eating habits.

“I am so proud of these young students, along with the partnerships we’ve created with TouroCOM, the Natural Gourmet Institute, and members of the Harlem health community,” said Dr. Polemeni, who also received a hand-made framed thank you card. “We’ve inspired children at an early age to pursue a quality education, develop healthy lifestyle behaviors, and strive for rewarding health-related careers.”

After every visit from Touro College’s Project Aspire team, the students continue learning about health and nutrition in the classroom, from curriculum created in partnership by Project Aspire staff, P.S. 197 educators, and faculty from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, recently opened in Harlem. The curriculum is consistent with New York state performance standards in science, mathematics, English language arts, art, health, and physical education. The lesson plan is designed to reinforce what the students have learned and ensures continuity in their health education, as well as their interest in future careers as health professionals.