White Plains Coalition Promotes Optimal Health

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The White Plains Cares Coalition has changed its name to Coalition for Living Wellness.
The White Plains Cares Coalition has changed its name to Coalition for Living Wellness. Photo Credit: Coalition For Living Wellness

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The White Plains Cares Coalition has changed its name and broadened its mission beyond just substance use prevention to helping people achieve optimal health using the eight dimensions of health.

The coalition, now known as the Coalition for Living Wellness, is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Coalition for Living Wellness is in its ninth year of a 10-year funding cycle, which made it eligible to apply for new funding.

Bhavana Pahwa of the White Plains Youth Bureau said the coalition applied for funding to participate in SAMHSA's National Wellness Week, which helps people achieve optimal health by balancing the eight dimensions of wellness: intellectual, environmental, emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational and physical.

“If you’re living an optimally healthy life, then it’s not compatible with using illicit substances,” Pahwa said. “So, it seemed to be a really good fit and a good progression to what we’re doing currently.”

The coalition put on its first Wellness Week in September 2013 and will bring it back in 2014 from Sept. 14-22. 

“We’re hoping that with the whole wellness initiative, it’s going to transform community norms and get people to think about wellness rather than constantly going to them and saying, ‘Don’t do this and don’t do that,’” Pahwa said.

Since its founding in 2003, the coalition has administered a community assessment and youth survey every two years, the results of which Pahwa said were very encouraging.

Lifetime use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana are all down in the 2013 survey, compared with the 2011 and 2006 surveys, of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders, as is past 30-day use. Binge drinking fell from 29.6 percent in 2011 to 13.6 percent in 2013. However, significantly fewer students said they had a reduced perception of risk of illicit substances, which the coalition says leads to an increase in use of illicit substances.

Pahwa attributed the positive statistics to the coalition’s community outreach through programs like its social norms media campaign, which included creating a public service announcement, the 2013 Wellness Week and Red Ribbon Month campaigns and Youth Court, which provides low-level youth offenders an alternative to incarceration.

The coalition is still looking for vendors for its 2014 Wellness Week. To showcase your business or service at the event, call 422-1378.

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