Nalini Kalanadhabhatta

Host Site:  United Health Services, Stay Healthy Center
Location:  Johnson City, NY
                                                                            AmeriCorps Position:  Stay Healthy Kids Associate      
Focus of Service: Nalini's position entails combating childhood obesity, helping families with children in the 95th percentile and above for their BMI, and  educating children in the community about living a healthy lifestyle.  
She helps run a Stay Healthy Kids Club, where children in the 95th percentile and above are referred to the program by their primary care physician.  In this 12-week program, kids are taught about nutrition, reducing their screen time, and how to stay active.  She sends flyers and recipe cards to those who have already completed the program.  These flyers have advice or tips on how to continue with the changes the families have already begun to make.

She is in charge of Mason on the Move with Mason Mastrioni, who draws for BC Comics. Through this program, she goes into schools to educate children on healthy living, focusing mostly on proper nutrition, reduced screen time, and increased activity.  

Additionally, Nalini is involved with setting up activities in the community for National Turn-off Week.  This week is about getting children out of their houses and exploring activities available in the community.  She talks to local businesses and activity centers to set up discounts for the week and send out flyers.  She works on a number of grants that come through the office, for instance,  the CATCH grant, which features CATCH curriculum and equipment that focuses on increased physical activity and proper nutrition.  She also works to enhance existing after-school programs with CATCH material, which involves training on-site staff and getting material to the sites so that staff members can utilize it.  
 
As a Stay Health Kids Associate, Nalini attends a variety of community initiative meetings, forming connections with those in the community who try to help one another working towards the same goals.
 
Nalini is serving her second fulltime term of service with RHSC as the Stay Healthy Kids Associate.
"I am hoping to get families in the community talking about what it means to be healthy and how to combat preventable diseases."

I hope to take away the skills I need to serve these kinds of communities in the future.  This position is helping me understand how all aspects of a child's life are involved in disease prevention, not just nutrition and physical activity.  I am hoping to use these lessons and skills in the future to aid people in these communities receive quality healthcare but also to improve their quality of life overall because a person's health is only one piece.

joined Rural Health Service Corps to learn about rural areas in New York and the local demographics because I plan on practicing medicine in some capacity in rural New York.  I also wanted to take a break between undergraduate education and medical school, but wanted to make an impact on others and introduce people to other lifestyles that would keep them in good health.  I wanted to work with community health because that's how we can start combating preventable diseases.  I also wanted to start correcting the personal health discrepancy that exists in many of these areas.