Meet a Health Hero: Bob Carrozza

Read more about Penrose Elementary's school nurse, Bob Carrozza, a semi-finalists in our 2012 Health Hero Challenge!

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Name: Bob Carrozza

Occupation: School nurse at South Philly’s Penrose Elementary School

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?

As a nurse practitioner and school nurse, I am motivated to be healthy first to keep in shape for my own health goals, and second to be a role model for the students and staff at the school I work in. I am also very motivated by the students at my school that struggle with their own health problems, such as asthma and childhood obesity, and how they address them and try to improve their health, sometimes in very difficult circumstances. For instance, 18 of our students finished the 10-mile Broad Street Run this past May. That was very motivating, considering that they are sixth through eighth graders who could be doing many other things after school, rather than training for a 10-mile race.

Describe a health- or fitness-related turning point in your life.

Being middle-aged has certainly been a turning point in my fitness life. I was not running much and gained weight, and was diagnosed with a heart murmur, which made me question the exercise regime I was doing. After that, with proper medical care, I set my goal to finish the Philadelphia Marathon. I was inspired by the students on our Students Run Philly Style team. Last November, I finished the marathon and nine of our students finished the 13-mile half marathon.

What “policy: would you institute to make Philadelphia a healthier city?

I would like to see more cooperation between universities, schools, the Recreation Department, and professional athletes from the sports teams in the city, with the goal of improving the health of the citizens of the area, including children and adults. Many schools have fitness facilities that could be used by senior citizens, church groups and parents during off-school hours or in the summer. Perhaps all of the sports teams in the city could contribute to maintaining the middle school sports programs in Philadelphia, which cost $1.4 million but could easily be fully funded by a commitment of several professional sports teams and athletes. In addition, it would be great to have a common yearly public-health theme, such as controlling blood pressure through diet and exercise, advocated by all of the professional sports teams in Philadelphia. University students could be used to volunteer at all schools in Philadelphia and the suburbs to increase time spent on fitness activities in school and at recess to combat childhood obesity. This could be done if all the right people came to the table and had the will to do it. If the childhood obesity crisis continues, our children will be having a great deal of health problems as adults. These children—along with the medical system, insurance providers, families and taxpayers—will be suffering the consequences.

What’s the most important part of your health or fitness regimen?

Trying my best to be consistent.

What is your No. 1 piece of health-related advice or encouragement?

Never, ever give up on your goal! I have battled to keep my weight under control for many years, mostly through running and dieting. I never give up. If I have a bad week of running, I try and increase the mileage the next week. Even if your final goal is not reached—like, you only lose 10 pounds instead of 20—you are healthier than you were. Find some form of exercise you enjoy, then do it!