Tuesday, May 31, 2011

World No Tobacco Day

Big Tobacco marketing is affecting our communities now more than ever. There are too many stores with too much tobacco marketing. Almost 90% of regular smokers start smoking before the age of eighteen; tobacco companies know this and target their marketing to the youth for this reason.

Today marks World No Tobacco Day, originated by the World Health Organization. World No Tobacco Day acts as a platform to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocate for effective policies to reduce consumption. Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally (after hypertension) and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide. The World Health Assembly created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and its lethal effects. It provides an opportunity to highlight specific tobacco control messages and to promote adherence to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Tobacco use is the number one preventable epidemic that the health community faces.

Staten Island University Hospital held a Youth Rally to commemorate World No Tobacco Day. It was a great opportunity for the Staten Island Youth to take a stand and send the message it is time to change the way tobacco products are marketed in our stores. I was invited as a guest speaker at the rally. Maria DeSantis, Miss Staten Island 2011, was also in attendance. What makes events like this one the most rewarding is when you see teens acting above the influence and saying no to tobacco. As I was watching the rally unfold, I couldn't help but feel incredibly proud as I witnessed groups of middle, high school, and college students sending a powerful message to tobacco companies. Our youth is tired of the advertisements being solely targeted to them. In honor of World No Tobacco Day, we all say to tobacco companies that "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"

Assemblyman Lou Tobacco

Reality Check; I was affiliated with this organization when I was in high school

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May is for Miracles

May is certainly for miracles for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. May is the peak of the organization's fundraising season. CMNH partners all over the country sell miracle balloon icons, host grassroots fundraisers, and even shave their heads to raise money for their local CMN hospitals.

As a local ambassador for the national platform, I have organized two fundraisers and volunteered with a Children's Miracle Network hospital located in New York. My first fundraiser was organizing a Dress Down Day at my work place. Casual Friday for Kids was a fun day where the entire staff got the chance to either wear jeans to work instead of the usually uniform or wear the official Casual Friday for Kids button. This is an event I plan to continue as an annual fundraiser due to its success.

My second CMNH fundraiser was a Zumbathon that took place at Rhythm Central Dance Studio. Libby McPike, certified Zumba instructor, volunteered her services and lead the class in an energetic workout! Libby and I were members of the Wagner College Nationally Ranked Dance Team so it was great to reconnect for this event.

The Children's Hospital at Montefiore held their annual Spring Fling to benefit Camp CHAM, a day camp for children with diabetes. The mission of the Camp of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) is to provide an enriching and enjoyable experience for children in a summer camp, together with other diabetic children and their families. This was my second consecutive year volunteering with Montefiore Hospital. I would like to thank Lili Beit, Senior Application Manager for the Professional Services Department and Organizer of the Spring Fling, for inviting me once again to participate with the Spring Fling. For more information about Camp CHAM visit there website at http://www.montekids.org/.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Costco supports CMNH

This weekend I had another opportunity to promote the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I attended a fundraiser at Costco in Staten Island. I was invited to join the reigning Miss New York, Claire Buffie, to take pictures with and sign autographs for the Costco customers. In return, we asked for a donation going toward the national platform. Besides promoting the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, we were able to spread the word of the Miss New York Pageant taking place at the St. George Theatre on June 17th and 18th.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Outdoor Citywide Smoking Ban in Effect TODAY!

That's right New York City...the Smoke Free Parks and Beaches Law went into full effect today. What does that exactly mean? The law, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed in February after it was passed by the New York City Council, makes smoking illegal in parks, beaches, pools, recreation centers, and other spaces under the jurisdiction of the Parks and Recreation Department. This includes New York City's 1,700 parks and on the city's 14 miles of public beaches.

The ban is designed to help curb exposure to secondhand smoke as well as reduce cigarette butt litter. Secondhand smoke causes close to 50,000 deaths per year, and side effects may include lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Cigarette butts account for 75% of the litter found on New York City beaches.

And New York isn't the only city to ban outdoor smoking. It follows the footsteps of 105 municipalities in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey that have banned smoking on public beaches including Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Seattle. 507 municipalities in California, Texas, Illinois and New Jersey impose laws that prohibit city parks, or specifically named city parks, to allow smoking including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Salt Lake City.

Violators will be faced with a $50 fine. However, the police will not be enforcing this law. Instead, the city will rely on signs and social pressure from the public to prevent smoking in the outdoors.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Modern Day Marilyns: Bebe Bardot Photography

"I don't mind living in a men's world as long as I can be a woman in it." Marilyn Monroe

Bebe Bardot Photography transforms the modern day girl into starlets of the 1940's and 1950's. Photographer Anke Michaelson and Makeup and Hair Artist Kristina Persson have teamed up to create photos inspired by the confident, beautiful, and strong portrayal of women during the era of pin-ups and silver screen. Bebe Bardot Photography is based on the North Shore of Staten Island. Their work encompasses the styles of Pin-up, Glamour, and Boudoir.

I was honored when Anke asked me to be a model for their new exhibit, "Modern Day Marilyns", which took place at Marie's Gourmet on Staten Island. Modern Day Marilyns is a series of photographs of local Staten Island women who have been transformed to capture the classic beauty of the 40s and 50s. I have always had a love and appreciation for the 1940's Hollywood Glamour era. So, it was no surprised that I was elated to find out that my shoot would be based on that exact concept. I want to thank Anke and Kristina for inviting me to participate in this amazing event and for giving me the opportunity to channel my "inner Marilyn."

Learn more about Bebe Bardot Photography by visiting their website.

My 1940's inspired Glamour shot

Anke Michaelson (Photography and Photo Editing) and Kristina Perrson (Makeup and Hair)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Great Kills Memorial Day Parade

Gray skies didn't have a chance against the red, white and blue at the Great Kills Memorial Day Parade in Staten Island. I made my parade debut as Miss Liberty, and how appropriate to be participating in a parade that honors our war heroes who gave their lives for this country. This marks my third year participating in this parade (previously as Miss Staten Island 2009 and Miss Richmond County 2010). Fittingly held on Armed Forces Day, the parade kicks off each year before the official Memorial Day holiday. The Staten Island community filled the streets of Great Kills with the sounds of high school bands, Girl and Boy Scouts, cheerleaders, dancers, bag pipes & drums, and FDNY & NYPD companies. You could feel the ubiquitous patriotism on the parade root. Being a part of this parade reminds me of how supportive the Staten Island community truly is; there is no greater impact that the motivation of your hometown.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Miss New York Promotion

The Miss New York Pageant is upon us with only a month to go! As Staten Island gears up for the pageant, the organization itself has gotten tons of media attention. I had the opportunity to participate in a taping for a video spot to air on community television to help bring awareness to Miss New York. CTV filmed the segment at the Hilton Hotel, one of the host hotels for pageant week. At the round table was Miss New York 2010 Claire Buffie, Kenny Mack (Miss New York Executive Director), Al Lambert (Staten Island musician), and Terry Tarangelo (Miss New York Board Member).

Seven other local titleholders joined me on the video segment including Miss New York City Hannah Right, Miss Queens Nardeen Bilan, Miss Kings County Carmen Mendoza, Miss Five Boroughs Kate Perkins, Miss Greater Gotham Kasey Waters, Miss Richmond County Amanda Alicea, and Miss Staten Island Maria DeSantis.

Each of us had our own talking points for the segment. This was a way to promote every aspect of the pageant. My interview included a few events scheduled for pageant week as well as my involvement within the Miss America Organization. I talked about the Miss New York Parade, which will take place during the Back to the Beach event at the South Beach Boardwalk sponsored by Borough President James Molinaro. The Miss America “Show Me Your Shoes” parade has been a tradition on the Atlantic City Boardwalk since the 1930’s. It’s great to be able to bring that tradition to Staten Island and have our own version of the iconic parade.

I also discussed my history with the Miss America Organization. When I was a little girl, my mother was the Executive Director of the Miss Staten Island Organization. I had first hand experience of seeing exactly what the responsibilities of the job of a titleholder entailed. This is where my passion for the Miss America Organization originated. It was gregarious talking about the “good old days” of the pageant. Not many people can say they consider nine former Miss Staten Islands their ‘big sisters’; I am so fortunate to have had this amazing opportunity.

Stay on the look out for airing dates for the Miss New York promotion segment!

Al Lambert, Claire Buffie, Kenny Mack, and some of the Class of 2011

Joel the CTV Camera Man

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Time Warner Cable Studios Interview

Recently I was invited back to Time Warner Cable Studios for a television interview for Senior Care and Lifestyles. This was the sixth time I have made an appearance with the show. My interviews consisted of Colleges Against Cancer President representing the American Cancer Society, T.E.A.C.H. founder, N.O.T. Facilitator representing the American Lung Association, Miss Staten Island 2009, and Miss Richmond County 2010. For this interview, as Miss Liberty 2011 I spoke about the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, promoted the Miss New York Pageant on Staten Island, and brought awareness to the Star Princess Program.

Catch the interview on Channel 35 on Wednesday, May 25th and Wednesday, June 1st both at 7:00pm.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

World Asthma Day

May started out strong with an appearance to promote World Asthma Day. World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. This event takes place each year on the first Tuesday in May. Asthma is affected by smoking, both first hand and secondhand. Tobacco smoke acts as a powerful trigger of asthma symptoms. When a person inhales tobacco smoke, irritating substances settle in the moist lining of the airways. These substances can cause an attack in a person who has asthma. In addition, tobacco smoke damages tiny hair-like structures in the airways called cilia. Normally, cilia sweep dust and mucus out of the airways. Tobacco smoke damages cilia so they are unable to work, allowing dust and mucus to accumulate in the airways. Smoke also causes the lungs to make more mucus than normal. As a result, even more mucus can build up in the airways, triggering an attack. Inhaling second-hand smoke, also called "passive smoke" or "environmental tobacco smoke," may be even more harmful than actually smoking. Second-hand smoke is especially harmful to people who already have asthma. When a person with asthma is exposed to second-hand smoke, he or she is more likely to experience the wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath associated with asthma.

Public School 53 invited me to be the guest speaker for an assembly of fourth and fifth graders. I spoke to the kids about my platform T.E.A.C.H. and how they can remain smokefree. I also went around to each classroom to visit the students. The student body even greeted me with a handmade welcome sign! It was another successful T.E.A.C.H. appearance.

My friend Gary
My friend Angelina
P.S. 53 Principal Annette Esposito
PS 53 Physical Education Teacher Barbara Pravato