Meet a Health Hero: Steve Paul

» You can vote for Steve here from August 22nd through September 18th.

Name: Steve Paul

Role: Special Olympics coordinator at The Bancroft School

What motivates you to try and make Philadelphia a healthier place?
I have been coaching Special Olympics at Bancroft for almost two decades and have been heavily involved in the Special Olympics community. I have learned so many things from my athletes and their families. I have seen what real struggle is and through that I have seen what real strength looks like. Over the years, I’ve seen many students come through The Bancroft School and before they came here, they were told what they weren’t able to do. I’m motivated every day to show the community, their families, their friends and the athletes themselves not what their disabilities are but what their abilities are. Any opportunity to get the young people in this community moving and active and living a healthy and happy life that’s what inspires me.

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Cyclists, Rejoice: The Ben Franklin Bridge Is Getting a Major Upgrade

It’s been a good couple of years for pedestrian-and-bike bridges and walkways around these parts: We got the Manayunk Bridge, then Sullivan’s Bridge, both of which connect runners, pedestrians and cyclists to more trails across the Schuylkill. And the good news keeps coming: The folks at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia announced on their blog earlier this week that the Delaware River Port Authority has approved a contract for the construction of a new ramp for pedestrians and cyclists on the Camden end of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

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Splash Around at These Free Pool Workouts Next Weekend

We love when we see former Be Well Philly Health Heroes out there making the world, well, healthier. And next weekend, our 2014 Health Hero Challenge winner, the lovely Pia Martin, will be doing just that, leading free all-levels water aerobics classes in Washington Square West. Yes, please! (By the way, voting for this year’s Health Hero Challenge starts next Tuesday — mark your calendars!) 

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Meet a Health Hero: Ramon Laboy

» You can vote for Ramon here from August 22nd through September 18th.

Name: Ramon Laboy

Role: Program director at Back on My Feet Philadelphia, which works to combat homelessness through running.

What motivates you to try and make Philadelphia a healthier place?
I was very fortunate to have grown up in a home with two parents, both of whom encouraged me to be outside playing and active. From a very early age I can remember so much satisfaction testing my body’s limits, whether it was climbing a tall tree or running myself to exhaustion around Danbury, CT. It was during these formative years I would not only realize but continue to strive towards “better.” I believe too many kids grow up having zero awareness surrounding their own strengths or capabilities due to lack of supports. I struggled throughout my entire academic career, test anxiety and feelings of self-worth tied to grades made school a very tough environment for me to excel in. However, through sports and a strong support system reminding me that I am capable of “more,” I was able to overcome and obtain my graduate degree nearly 10 years ago. My childhood and adolescent experience taught me that with the right support system, positive mindset and hard work will pay off.

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Meet a Health Hero: Chera Kowalski

» You can vote for Chera here from August 22nd through September 18th.

Name:
Chera Kowalski

Role: Librarian turned lifesaver at McPherson Square Library, who brought Narcan training to the staff at the library where she works to help combat the opioid epidemic.

What motivates you to try and make Philadelphia a healthier place?
The community I serve as a librarian at the McPherson Square Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia is what motivates me. This community is resilient and strong, especially in the face of all it experiences. The entrenched poverty, food and housing insecurities, and being at the center of the city’s drug use and trade for years, along with being the epicenter of the city’s opioid crisis, impact this community, affecting both the mental and physical health of its residents. And so, what we strive to do at the library is create a safe, welcoming, and responsive space that meets the needs of the community, which takes form through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and literacy programming, connecting residents to resources and services like Prevention Point or Community Legal Services, offering the Federal Lunch program year round, being trained on Narcan, and more.

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Meet a Health Hero: Cheryl Janssen

» You can vote for Cheryl here from August 22nd through September 18th.

Name:
Cheryl Janssen

Role: Founding executive director/CEO of Kids Smiles, which provides children in underserved communities in Philadelphia with preventive and restorative oral health care along with offering innovative health education programs.

What motivates you to try and make Philadelphia a healthier place?
In order for a child or any person to thrive they need to be healthy. Tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood disease and millions of children have pain that causes them to miss school, not chew properly (causing nutrition issues), have poor speech, and suffer from esteem issues due to the impact of poor oral health. Tooth decay is also linked to other health issues and children must be healthy to focus, learn, and grow. However, with proper care, a healthy smile is one of our greatest assets in communicating and demonstrates confidence. The desire to help Philadelphia one smile at a time stems from how important children are to our future.

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Tell Us: What’s the Absolute Best Order at Blackbird Pizzeria?

Blackbird Pizzeria slices | Photo via Instagram

Good news, vegan friends: The folks at Blackbird Pizzeria, the spot known for its vegan menu of pizzas, wings, cheese fries and the like, had the soft opening for their new Northern Liberties location, at 614 North 2nd Street, last night. And if you missed it, not to fret: As Philly.com reports, the new location officially opens for regular hours today at 11 a.m. Say it with us: HECK yes.

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Meet a Health Hero: Stephanie Ford

» You can vote for Stephanie here from August 22nd through September 18th.

Name:
Stephanie Ford

Role: Founder of Pedal Posse Divas, a Philadelphia-based community for women who share a passion for cycling, hosting weekly rides; women’s biking advocate.

What motivates you to try and make Philadelphia a healthier place?
I am motivated to try to make Philadelphia a healthier place because a healthy community is a thriving community. So many of the illnesses that people are affected by are curable. If people would put time and effort into making healthier food choices, exercising daily (even if that means walking), we would begin to see how those simple things can make a huge difference in how we feel and look and to the overall quality of our lives.

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