Washington Heights Initiative

The Washington Heights Health Initiative of Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is a coordinated effort to measurably improve the health of the communities of Washington Heights and Inwood.

Over the past ten years, the Department of Pediatrics has created a Community Pediatrics Program working in partnership with the Washington Heights community. Pediatricians are working side by side with community agencies to develop important initiatives that impact clinical practice and bring about institutional change. The nature of the relationship between the community and the Hospital has changed from one of wary co-existence to a truly collaborative model of health care. Pediatricians are now consistent and effective advocates for improving disparities in children’s health outcomes in the local community, and the community and its leaders are now active partners in service delivery, the training of future physicians and community based participatory research. This program fulfills the Hospital and University’s mission of service, teaching and research through community engaged scholarship. Below is a list of our signature programs.  

CHALK (Choosing Healthy & Active Lifestyles for Kids) Center for Best Practices

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CHALK (Choosing Healthy & Active Lifestyles for Kids) Center for Best Practices aims to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and its associated morbidity in Northern Manhattan (with a focus on school-aged children), and to promote a culture and create an environment in which healthy lifestyles are integral to the lives of all children.  

Family PEACE (Promoting, Education, Advocacy, Collaboration, and Empowerment) Program

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Family PEACE (Promoting, Education, Advocacy, Collaboration, and Empowerment) Program is dedicated to improving the safety and well-being of mothers and children who have been exposed to violence in their homes; fostering stronger parent child bonds, offering coping strategies, educational guidance, and healthier conflict resolution skills while preventing the perpetuation of family violence.

Health Education Adult Literacy (HEAL) Program

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Health Education Adult Literacy (HEAL) Program aims to decrease medication errors with treatments prescribed by pediatricians in the population served. Healthy Schools Healthy Families Program addresses a diverse set of issues including immunizations, mental health, and obesity prevention, currently in 7 schools serving over 5000 children.

Infant Sickle Cell Program

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Infant Sickle Cell Program aims to improve community awareness of Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Trait; increase community capacity for supporting families with affected newborns and children; improve Pediatric follow-up for newborn screening for Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Trait; and establish long-term comprehensive evidence-based prevention and treatment of complications through the affected families' "medical home." 

Lang Youth Medical Program

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Lang Youth Medical Program recruits 7th graders from local Intermediate schools and brings them to the hospital regularly for a six-year science enrichment program. The program is in its third year, and when fully implemented will serve over 90 children. 

Project HEALTH

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Project HEALTH works to break the link between poverty and poor health by mobilizing undergraduate volunteers to provide sustained public health interventions in partnership with urban medical centers, universities, and community organizations. 

Reach Out and Read Program

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Reach Out and Read Program, since 1997, has enabled over 200 pediatricians and health care providers to “prescribe” and give out over 100,000 books to 45,000 economically disadvantaged children, many of who are from linguistically isolated families. 

WIN (Washington Heights and Inwood Network) for Asthma Program

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WIN (Washington Heights and Inwood Network) for Asthma Program is a community based intervention to reduce childhood asthma rates for families in Washington Heights /Inwood. 

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