Monthly Archives: August 2012

Join Us for Our Sixth Annual Teen Fair!

Join us TOMORROW, August 28th, for our 6th Annual Teen Fair from 1:00 to 4:00 pm on East 104th Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenues. The annual event, sponsored by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito helps connect our young people with services in the community as they prepare to go back to school.

Stop by and spend an afternoon with us! There will be free food for attendees, live music and dance performances by young people, and a backpack giveaway generously sponsored by Kars 4 Kids. Throughout the afternoon, local organizations will set up tables to recruit teens to take part in their programs. Don’t miss it!!

The event is co-sponsored by the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force, the Office of Senator Jose M. Serrano, the Office of Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez and Manhattan Community Board 11.


Council Members Mark-Viverito and James Call on DOE to Combat Youth Obesity Through Expanded Physical Education in Schools


As the Bloomberg administration promotes its proposed ban on the sale of large sugary drinks, Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Letitia James have spearheaded a letter to NYC Department of Education Chancellor Walcott highlighting deficiencies in the City’s physical education (PE) program. The letter, which was signed by 32 other Council Members, points to several studies indicating that the city’s children, particularly in low-income communities of color, are not receiving the minimum required gym classes, despite the important role that regular physical activity plays in reducing obesity.

“With all the attention being placed on the Bloomberg administration’s proposed soda ban, we felt that there was a larger story to tell about how other policy choices by this administration are contributing to the obesity epidemic in this City,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The disparities between our city’s neighborhoods when it comes to physical education are unacceptable. We look forward to working with the DOE to achieve a marked improvement in the City’s physical education program, particularly in low-income communities of color.”

“Unlike the administration’s ‘soda ban’, the expansion of physical fitness activities and education in schools will go far to teach the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle from an early age.” said Council Member Letitia James, who has been working with “Let’s Move Brooklyn” (part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s national youth fitness campaign) this summer, speaking at their educational panel as well as hosting the “Brooklyn Olympic Fun Day Events” in Bedford-Stuyvesant last month.

According to a recent New York Times article, one in five city high school students reported not having gym class in an average week. Additionally, none of the 31 elementary schools visited by the NYC Comptroller’s Office last year met New York State standards on PE. And a 2012 study conducted by the NYC Strategic Alliance for Health found only 6 out of 74 elementary schools studied were meeting state requirements.

The New York State Education Department requires that PE classes be held every day for students in grades K to 3, and three times a week for grades 4 to 6, for a minimum of 120 minutes a week; and at least 90 minutes a week for grades 7 and 8. Three gym classes a week are required for grades 7 through 12 in one semester, and twice a week in another.

The communication to the Chancellor requested that his office provide the Council with data on the City’s PE program; clarification on the DOE’s policy on PE in co-located schools; and information regarding the DOE’s strategy to improve PE in schools and reduce PE disparities across neighborhoods.

Melissa Featured in a Stop & Frisk documentary, ‘Life Under Suspicion’

Melissa is featured in the Educational Video Center’s powerful new documentary on Stop and Frisk titled ‘Life Under Suspicion,’ which recently won an award from the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Freedom of Expression Contest. The film documents the criminalization of an entire generation of young men of color in New York City.

“The Educational Video Center has done a remarkable job empowering youth in our community,” said Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This project is giving voice to those who are most victimized by the alienating stop-and-frisk policy. These young people are being trained to be journalists and documentary film makers who can fight this injustice and make a difference.”

Synopsis: The NYPD stopped and frisked nearly 700,000 people in 2011 in an effort to remove guns from the street. Critics point to the policy’s fundamental failure since a gun was recovered in less than 1 percent of the cases. But a generation of black and Hispanic males–who constitute 90 percent of those stopped– is being criminalized and dehumanized as a result. Educational Video Center youth producers investigate this critical problem that impacts them so directly, speaking with political leaders, legal experts, and young people in neighborhoods across the city, in order to give a human face to this critical problem