Kyle Murray and CHALK:
Choosing Healthy and Active Lifestyles for Kids

Berrie Center patient Kyle Murray, who has a Master’s degree in nutrition and food science, has been managing his diabetes since he was 12 and growing up in the northern suburbs of New Jersey. But it wasn’t until after he graduated from New York University, and was working as a bilingual business counselor for immigrants, that he decided he might want to help other people self-manage their healthcare as well.

Said Kyle, “A common thread I found when working with my clients, who were largely from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Ecuador, was the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D), and the general feeling that they were not getting adequate care or education from their healthcare providers. I had always managed my diabetes fairly well and made the decision at that time to turn my nutrition and diabetes care skills into a career by becoming a dietitian. 

“I felt like a career in healthcare was a way to make my diabetes pay me back for the time and effort I had already put into it.  I also wanted to use my language skills and background to help bridge crucial gaps in our healthcare system regarding poverty and cultural competency.”

In addition to having his Master’s, Kyle is a Registered Dietitian (RD), a Certified Dietician Nutritionist (CDN) and this spring plans to sit for his exam as a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). Kyle, 30, is passionate about his work—he’s a Community Nutrition Specialist at CHALK, which stands for Choosing Healthy & Active Lifestyles for Kids. CHALK is New York Presbyterian’s (NYP) community-based obesity prevention program in collaboration with Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and the community of Northern Manhattan. The goal of CHALK is to reduce the prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity in Northern Manhattan by creating an environment in which healthy lifestyles are integral to the lives of all families.

“We’re trying to bridge the gap between clinical care and community care,” said Kyle. “We do a lot of non-prescriptive work where we get involved in schools, health care centers, faith-based organizations, day-care centers. We do work to find out what people view as the obstacles to healthy living and then connect them to the resources and the professionals they may need to develop approaches to confront and overcome those obstacles.”

The Berrie Center recently met Kyle over the holiday season in his capacity as a CHALK representative at a Berrie-Connect program for teens with T1D. He was on hand to talk about the stress and anxiety that comes with managing an illness that has everything to do with diet—around a time that has everything to do with food. “Working with teens with T1D has always been something that I’ve had my eye on,” added Kyle who will be collaborating again with the Berrie Center teens around the issue of nutrition during 2019. “I’m happy to have the opportunity to do it.”

Kyle is also extremely happy about his career choice and encourages other kids, especially with diabetes, to consider doing something in healthcare as well. “I think that people who are patients themselves know a thing or two about patient-centered care, and should pursue work in healthcare,” said Kyle, who sees Dr. Jacqueline Salas at the Berrie Center for his care. “Also, in tenuous economic times when many are having to ration their insulin or cut back on necessities, steady employment gives me and other people with diabetes the stability we need with health benefits and disease-related costs.”