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Claudia Aristy of NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue Has Won the Annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize for Excellence in Urban Public Health

Ms. Aristy was honored for her work as Director of the Reach Out and Read Program and the Health Education and Literacy for Parents Project

Feb 22, 2019

New York, NY

Claudia Aristy, director of Children of Bellevue’s Reach Out and Read Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, has been awarded the prestigious Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize for her work that encourages children to read and parents to read to their children from the time they are infants, the hospital announced today. Through Reach Out and Read, children and their families receive not only books but health information, as well as improving literacy.

“I am humbled to receive this recognition for my work,” said Ms. Aristy, also director of the Health Education and Literacy for Parents (HELP) Project, a component of Reach Out and Read. “I have had the distinct pleasure of serving our pediatric families at Bellevue for 18 years. Seeing generations of children growing up with a love for books and reading is an indescribable feeling. For that, I will be eternally grateful.”

In observation of World Read Aloud Day on February 1, Ms. Aristy and other staff members and volunteers sat with children on mats in the waiting area of the Pediatrics Clinic and read aloud to them from a variety of picture books. Ms. Aristy herself was once a young mother in Bellevue’s Pediatric Clinic and says she understands the many challenges the parents face.

“I was a parent out there in the clinic just like the parents who we work with,” she said, “coming from another country, learning English, learning to navigate the school system and the health system, and knowing what a difference it makes when you find support, which I found here.”

“The Reach Out and Read Program has had a tremendous impact at Bellevue,” said William Hicks, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. “In 2017, pediatricians distributed nearly 10,000 books to 4,000 children. Parent educators, who share information on topics such as literacy and healthy eating, had close to 900 interactions with parents. Claudia’s talent and commitment have been essential to the success of the program and its ability to provide important health information to our young patients and their parents.”

“Congratulation to Claudia for winning this well-deserved award for such an important cause—children’s literacy,” said New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Hospitals. “Reach Out and Read is such an innovative program because it not only helps improve literacy, but also expands critical health education. From asthma to childhood obesity, more children are dealing with chronic health conditions every day, and Claudia’s work will help our youngest New Yorkers learn to practice healthy behavior.”

“I am pleased to congratulate Ms. Aristy on her well-earned award for the impact of Reach Out and Read at Bellevue.” said New York City Council Member Keith Powers. “When families have health and literacy resources for their children, they are prepared to succeed. I am grateful to Claudia and the organization’s impact, and look forward to its continued partnership with Bellevue.”

Through the HELP Project, parents reported significant gains in knowledge and made greater use of strategies to improve medication dosing accuracy and treatment compliance. As a result, a training manual and DVD have been created to facilitate replication of the Health Education and Literacy for Parents Project model.

Ms. Aristy’s career at Bellevue began in 2000, when she became a bilingual parent educator in Reach Out and Read, part of the national non-profit organization that promotes language-rich parent-child interactions, early literacy, and school readiness.

Under Ms. Aristy’s guidance, Children of Bellevue’s Reach Out and Read has expanded to include not only the Health Education and Literacy for Parents Project but also Reach Out and Write, the Pediatric Dental Clinic Reach Out and Read Program, and the Healthy Eating Initiative. It also provides bilingual parent educators who offer literacy counseling. She is responsible for developing the curriculum for the bilingual parent educators that led National Reach Out and Read to ask her to help develop the Leyendo Juntos initiative, a Spanish language literacy reference tool created for pediatric health providers.

Each year the Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize honors an individual and a nonprofit organization in the New York metropolitan area for distinguished accomplishment in urban public health. For 2018, Ms. Aristy was the individual honored, and the Service Program for Older People, Inc. was the non-profit organization honored.

“We are proud indeed to recognize these urban health heroes,” said Jennifer J. Raab, president of Hunter College. “They are perfect examples of the Tisch family’s extraordinary effort to identify and acknowledge people and organizations that make a major impact on their communities—and who will benefit enormously from these generous $10,000 prizes.”

Made possible by support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the prize is part of the Joan H. Tisch Legacy Project, which is based at Hunter College, and is a tribute to Joan H. Tisch in recognition of her humanitarian activism in health care and social services in New York City.