WESTFIELD, NJ – Waving foam fingers and pom-poms before taking their places with buzzers in hand, seventh-graders from Edison Intermediate School and Roosevelt Intermediate School competed Tuesday evening in the 10th Annual United Healthcare Health Bee at the Westfield Area YMCA Bauer Branch.

While students from Cranford and Garwood took home the top prizes, pupils from Westfield and Mountainside also enjoyed answering questions in the categories of general health and science, food and nutrition, in addition to physical fitness.

Public school nurses Sharon Dorry and Christine DeSousa both were honored for their 10 years of participation. They coached “Team Teddy” from Roosevelt Intermediate School in Westfield. That team consisted of students Sophia Altieri, Megan Falvey, Hannah Gerstel, Sarah Stavrovich and Chloe Walpole.

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“The Health Bee really encourages camaraderie between students,” Dorry said. “It’s another activity that teaches them how to be healthy and makes it fun.”

Mayor Shelley Brindle rallied the audience for in support of the teams from her town. 

“I’m proud that you’ve all taken the initiative to participate in the Health Bee,” Brindle told team members, before asking “Is Westfield in the house,” a question, which was met with cheering from the audience.

Students Maya Balakumaran, Victoria Gee, Sofia Gill, Anusha Iyer, Monica Manescu, Alishba Waqar and Rebecca Xiong comprised team “Edison Elite,” from Edison Intermediate School in Westfield. School nurse Martha Fico and physical education teacher Amanda Diaz coached that team.

The winners of the 2019 UnitedHealthcare Health Bee were:

  • 1st Place:  Orange Avenue School, Cranford (with a $1,000 cash prize to spend on any health initiative at the school)
  • 2nd Place:  Lincoln School, Garwood ($500 prize)
  • School Spirit:  St. Michael’s School, Cranford ($250 prize)

A Westfield resident and United Healthcare employee Shobha Tagat was among the eight company volunteers, who worked the scoreboard and assisted at the event. “It’s exhilarating, loud and amazing,” said Tagat, who has volunteered for all 10 years of the Health Bee. “It’s nice to see the kids really invested in the event.”

The Health Bee is part of the Westfield YMCA 7th Grade Initiative, a program funded by United Healthcare that provides all seventh-graders with a free membership to the YMCA. Health Bee teams practice after school and they all meet up for periodic study sessions at the Westfield Area YMCA.

"We began working with the Y to promote health and activity among children,” said Paul Marden, CEO of United Healthcare of NJ. “I love the enthusiasm of the kids and the commitment of the coaches. And the Westfield Y does a great job with the Health Bee – they really do it right.”