Back to school season in New York City starts with heart health


Back to school season is an exciting time for the American Heart Association in New York City because it means we are approaching our annual STEM Goes Red event. STEM Goes Red will be held on Monday, November 6thThis event is part of the Go Red for Women® movement and is designed to increase diverse representation in science, technology, engineering and math careers. High school students come from around the city for a day of learning, mentorship and celebration of women’s health!

STEM Goes Red 2023: Dr. Sonal Bhatia to serve as Chair

We are proud to announce the Chair of 2023 STEM Goes Red NYC is Dr. Sonal Bhatia, Chief Medical Office, Rare Disease at Pfizer. We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Bhatia about why she chose to lead this inspiring event.

“When I was a young girl growing up in Mexico, I stood out. I came from a different culture, and I was different. Maybe that’s why creating equity for the underdog has been a driver my whole life. After watching my grandfather heal people, I knew I would create equity in healthcare.

 Fast forward to present day, I bring the perspective of a physician, mother, and healthcare provider, and I realize the work is yet to be done. But to impact the future, we need to start with the children that will be here to drive the change and to see it unfold. That’s why I’m honored to be serving as the Chair for the 2023 STEM Goes Red Program in New York City.

 Although women account for more than half of the college educated workforce, a troubling gap persists in STEM careers. Women, especially women of color, make up a small share of scientists and engineers. Of 100 female-identifying students working toward a bachelor’s degree, only three will work in a STEM job 10 years after graduation.

“When I was a young girl growing up in Mexico, I stood out.
I came from a different culture, and I was different ….
Maybe that’s why creating equity for
the underdog has been a driver my whole life.”

 -Sonal Bhatia, MD,
Chief Medical Officer, Rare Disease, Pfizer
Chair 2023 STEM Goes Red NYC

On Monday, November 6th, STEM Goes Red brings interesting careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to life for young women. The program draws from the Association’s strong legacy of science, education and discovery to help propel young women into rewarding STEM careers. Students walk away feeling like a whole new world has been revealed — a world in which they can truly love what they do and make a tremendous impact.

 Heart disease and stroke are largely preventable. That’s why our dual goal, beyond closing gaps in STEM, is to equip young women with essential knowledge and resources. We know that health is deeply connected to social and economic determinants. From the detrimental effects of menthol and vaping to the importance of mental-well-being, it is crucial for us to actively engage with these young women to prevent health disparities in the future.”


Building good habits for the First Day of School

Any parent knows that back-to-school season can turn into one of the busiest times of the year.  According to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, back to school appears to be one of the most significant retail dates after the holiday season. As parents are buying supplies and goods for their school-aged children, the American Heart Association also wants to remind parents and guardians that this is an important time to think about the entire family’s heart health.

With New York City public schools reopening on Thursday, September 7, 2023, we would like to offer a few tips for back-to-school season. It is important to take time now to begin establishing health habits that can help your family succeed this school year, like getting healthy sleep each night and preparing healthy meals:

#EatSmart with fun back to school recipes from the American Heart Association

This kid-friendly favorite makes a delicious no-cook meal that’s super quick and easy to put together for a school lunch or on a busy night. Link here:

The American Heart Association recommends healthy children follow a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy sources of protein.  Each meal should include at least 1 fruit or vegetable and should include foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.

Here are 6 ways to make healthy family meal prep easy:

  1. Use the weekend to plan your meals
  2. Organize your shopping list
  3. Double the recipe
  4. Make friends with your freezer
  5. Prep your veggies as soon as you get home from the grocery store
  6. Put your plan on display

Get back on a healthy sleep schedule

Healthy sleep habits can lower psychological strain, give you better self-control, and replenish self-regulatory energy. Whether classes are remote or at school, it’s important to re-establish a routine.

Start transitioning bedtime and wake-up time ahead of the first day of school, so your child can get used to it. Limit their exposure to screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime, since blue light can interrupt your body’s natural sleep rhythm. In general, kids ages six to 12 need nine to 12 hours of sleep, while teens should get eight to 10 hours.