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Health Program At White Plains Church Honored

Rev. Dr. Edward Williamson, of Bethel Baptist Church poses with one of his parishioners Gilda Strudwick. Photo Credit: Westchester County Board of Health
The County Board of Health awarded the Passage to Excellence Be Fit Program at Bethel Baptist Church the 2013 Distinguished Public Health Service Award. Photo Credit: Westchester County Board of Health

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Gilda Strudwick lost 15 pounds through a healthy cooking program at her White Plains church, helping Bethel Baptist Church win the 2013 Distinguished Public Health Service Award Tuesday.

The weekly Passage to Excellence Be Fit Program at Bethel Baptist Church teaches residents how to eat healthfully through a culinary arts nutrition and cooking program that has helped more than 40 participants learn healthier ways to eat, cook and shop.

“The best part is that I am not on a diet,” Strudwick said in a statement. “The Be Fit program has simply taught me how to eat better and that eating healthy doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice taste."

The program includes multiple facets, including:

  • A fitness and exercise program that meets one day each week at the church and three additional days each week at the Thomas Slater Center. Participants' weight loss has ranged from 9 pounds to 56 pounds.
  • A community garden created in a vacant lot of the church which harvests collard, mustard and turnip greens, hot and green peppers, lettuce, eggplant, green beans and more. More than 200 participants tend to the garden and range from youth in after-school and summer camp programs to students at Berkeley College and church members.
  • The Better Health Cable Television Show which is produced at White Plains Cablevision and features various experts on topics like diabetes, heart disease, exercise, HIV and AIDS, and cancer. Two shows are produced each month and are aired throughout White Plains and Greenburgh.
  • Education and Awareness Programs are held monthly at Bethel Baptist, where speakers are invited to discuss various health topics and health screenings are offered.

“I have become more conscious about the foods that I buy and how I prepare them for myself and my family," Strudwick said. "The meal planning begins while I am looking at the weekly supermarket advertisements and I am careful to stay away from excess fats, sugars and salts.”

The Be Fit Program was launched in 2011 and has helped stem the tide of obesity and obesity-related conditions like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, which Board of Health President R. Steven Nakashima said have reached epidemic proportions.

“It is our desire to promote health of body, mind, and soul,” said Dr. Edward Willimason, reverend at Bethel Baptist Church, who accepted the award on behalf of Passage to Excellence Corp.

The award is presented to recognize Public Health Week.

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