Sunset Striders Community Walk Group

Sunset Striders Community Walk Group
(Grand Island)

Healthy Community Conference 2019

As so you can see our team was pumped up to be at the Creating a Healthy Community Conference at the Hotel Henry!

Healthiest District Initiative Meeting 2019

Healthiest District Initiative Meeting

Phil Haberstro with two of our partners Kevin Crosby from the Sunrise Rotary Club of Buffalo and Greg Stevens, the Executive Director of Niagara River Greenway.

Personal Passion Benefits Communal Health

by Carl Francis Penders

     You’re talking about changing the culture,” proclaims Philip L. Haberstro, Executive Director for the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, “similar to what we’ve done with tobacco.”  It’s a refrain anyone who’s spent time listening to Haberstro’s message has heard more than once.  Of course, “repetition is the mother of skill,” to quote Anthony Robbins who’s been known to advocate his own passion for change.  And it definitely requires a certain skill level to persistently convey wisdom that people are not always inclined to hear.  While inclined to encourage mastery Robbins reminds people that “if I hear it again, or maybe hear it a different way, eventually it (wisdom) will take hold.”  So Haberstro and his Wellness Institute continue to tear down walls in Western New York minds, and build bridges with partners throughout the region.

     It’s been a 30 year plus journey for the athletic Haberstro, playing football at Cardinal O’Hara High, Brockport State, and 11 years toiling as a linebacker for the semi-pro Buffalo Geminis.  Pursuing a sports science degree at Brockport, he joined the school’s Faculty Student Association on graduating, overseeing student union activities.  “It gave me training in managing programs,” he says, facilitating rathskellars, band concerts, and lectures.

     “I was certified to teach physical education,” and that calling caused him to join the Buffalo Athletic Club.  “I taught handball, racquetball, and squash,” and as program director, “designed fitness programs for members.”  And “I developed a real strong emphasis on personal fitness.”

     “I believed in what I was doing,” he tells me in his Buffalo City Hall office, overflowing with reports, books, commendations, and awards.  “It was a heart-centered passion … I wanted to help people be healthy.”

     With fitness foremost in his mind he formed Buffalo Fitness Consultants, an enterprise he still maintains.  Yet influenced by Peter Drucker, author of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and guided by Drucker’s admonition that “The 21st Century will be the century of the not-for-profit … The leadership, competence and management of the not-for-profit organization will largely determine the values, vision, cohesion, and performance of the 21st century society,” his eye on the greater good, 1989 saw Haberstro partnering with attorney John Giardino to form the Wellness Institute.

     The initial vision was inspired by the National Civic League’s push to “launch the healthy communities movement in the United States,” with Haberstro feeling it was imperative to “convince employers of the importance of the health of their workforce.”  As for creating a healthy community, (which virtually coincides with the institute’s website, www.creatinghealthycommunites.org) one recalls that culture changing challenge, and the urgency to implement transformational strategies espoused by 1986’s Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, a document Haberstro emphasizes as being “to health, what the United States Constitution is to our democracy.”

     “With civic angst on the rise, you’re seeing an emphasis and increase in yoga, mindfulness, and meditation,” says Western New York’s only Center for Disease Control’s Certified Work @ Health Trainer, a comprehensive program to promote employee health.  To that end Haberstro leads Delaware Park reflective walks, at 10:45 AM, from March to November, on each month’s first Sunday.  He and the institute are at the forefront of WNY Walks, and the region’s “walkability movement,” providing Walkability Assessment Tool Kits, and the Walking Club Toolkit, a guide to starting a neighborhood or workplace walk.  Demonstrating he’s a man with conviction, and one poised to “walk his talk,” a recent presentation to an AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) conference at Buffalo’s Hyatt Hotel saw Haberstro extol walking’s benefits, and then lead a vigorous hour long walk to the Buffalo River, the Erie Canal Terminus, and back. 

     “Walkable communities are more age friendly, more economically vibrant,” he says, citing Buffalo’s Elmwood Village, and East Aurora.  He co-chairs Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s Age Friendly Blue Ribbon Commission, and has been at the forefront of Buffalo’s All America City entries.

     “We’ve made twelve applications, been a finalist eight times, and a two time winner,” he proudly declares, adding he’s ready to again see the city through the process.

     Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam and other Putnam titles have influenced Haberstro’s thinking of late.  Putnam writes about capital, seeing beyond the material.  He references trust and reciprocity.  Taking seriously Putnam’s research and input from Ottawa Charter presenter Dr. Trevor Hancock, Haberstro stresses capital in human, social, environmental, as well as economic terms.

     “Ninety percent of what we do is in partnership,” Haberstro says in attracting capital through trust and reciprocity.  Yet undeterred from considering challenging questions, and drawing from the Ottawa Charter’s call to action, he asks, “What do you need to do to create health in communities?  Where can we infiltrate institutions to bring about health promotions and resources?”  And “What is the economic investment in health and wellness?”

     Good questions.

     “The initiatives have to be strategic and comprehensive,” proffers Haberstro, and that answers will arise through “civic, political, and private leadership.”

     With Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, and Cattaraugus counties mired from 56 to 60 out of 62 New York State counties as measured by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps survey, could Haberstro and the Wellness Institute be calling for new leadership.

     Something on the order of health-centered leadership?

     Something for Buffalo and Western New York citizens and leaders to think about.

Healthy Community Interview

Watch the full interview.

What is the secret to a healthy lifestyle? Is it truly just mind, body, and soul or is it more?

Get the “Big Picture” from Phil Haberstro’s visit to WBBZ TV for an interview with Catherine Miller on the Big Picture Show.


WNY Walks! 
Walkability Summit Update

As a result of the June 2019 Summit, FOUR exciting new initiatives have surfaced! Inspired by our keynote speakers, Ian Thomas of America Walks and Amanda O’Rourke of 880 Cities, the following initiatives have emerged to promote walking and walkable communities in WNY.

– Grand Island Sunset Striders 

– WNY Walks! Speaking Presentation at the AARP NYS Livability Summit (Philip Haberstro available for presentations)

– Partnership between WNY Walks! and District 7090 Rotary Clubs and Buffalo Niagara Greenway Commission to promote walking/biking/rolling

– First meeting of the WNY Walks Community Advocacy Team (CAT) and Publication of WNY Walks! Strategic Plan and Sponsorship opportunities


Thursday, June 13th and Friday, June 14th men and women from Buffalo and surrounding areas joined us in a two day event focusing on walkability. Our keynote speakers, Ian Thomas and Amanda O’Rourke, gave us great insight on the importance of having a walkable community and how we can achieve it. Stay tuned for a more in depth recap of what we discovered.


“I just wanted to let you know what a great time Michelle, Lauren and I had at the summit on Friday. The activities, networking and information learned was so great and valuable to hear. We really appreciate you including us in this opportunity and I look forward to our continued collaboration together in the future!”
-Katie Kicinski, Adjunct Professor, Health Promotion, Daemen College


WNY Walks! Summit_Ian Thomas Slideshow_Part 1
WNY Walks! Summit_Ian Thomas Slideshow_Part 2


WNY Walks! Summit Ian Thomas Audio


WNY Walks! Summit Amanda O’Rourke Audio


WNY Walks! Summit- Amanda O’Rourke’s Slideshow


880 Cities: What is a Walkable City?


Creating Healthy Communities

The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo & WNY was incorporated in 1989 as a public benefit organization. The Institute’s Mission is to create a healthy community. The mission is addressed by advocating for and facilitating strategy fostering a regional culture that invests in, encourages and sustains individual, family, organizational and community capacity to practice positive civic, environmental, economic and health enhancing behaviors. Strategically guided by the interdisciplinary “healthy community” movement, the Institute’s work is enhanced through assessment and visioning, collaboration, networking, advocacy, professional development services, educational programs, communication, volunteers, innovation and leadership on health promotion, civic engagement and quality of life issues.


Citizens within our communities share in the shaping of our thriving bi-national region. Safe and stable neighborhoods, respect for diversity, accessible cultural/recreational opportunities, a healthy population, and lifelong learning provide an exceptional quality of life. Our dynamic business climate evolves from a competitive workforce, responsive governance, and a comprehensive transportation system. A balanced, sustainable, environment ensures the prosperity and natural resources of our region.”


 The Concept of Wellness as self defined optimal physical, mental and spiritual  well-being, is both a historic and contemporary dream of American civil society. Fueled in the UNITED STATES by the power of the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, Americans (and other societies) have consistently strived to ensure both the individual and societal achievement of optimal personal and national levels of well being. Through an empowering balance of individual initiative and our societal responsibility to each other, American society has progressed in achieving a sustainable quality of life unmatched in human history.

While defining and measuring “wellness” has posed a challenge to both academics and advocates, the more formidable task has been understanding and facilitating the American path to higher levels of personal, organizational or community wellness. Inspired by the Global Healthy Communites movement and the 1989 launch of the USA Healthy Communities movement by the National Civic League (www.NCL.org ) the challenge of “Creating Healthy Communities” formed the strategic basis for the founding (1989) of The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and the substance of the Institute’s interdisciplanary work, learning, sharing and contributions to achieving our community’s Vision for its citizens personal wellness and enhanced quality of life.

PHILIP L . HABERSTRO – Founder of The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and Western New York USA.

“The secret of change, is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”

Cities & Towns Served by our Wellness initiatives in Erie County

Wellness News

Keep updated on News and Happenings from the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo.

Press Release September 2019                                   “WNY WALKS! Leader Presenting at AARP NY State Conference” Buffalo, NY. Phil Haberstro, Executive Director of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and founder of the WNY walkability movement’s...

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WNY Walks! Walking Summit

MEDIA RELEASE May 10th, 2019                                                                                                              Contact Phil Haberstro 851-4052 WNY Walks! Summit Presents Dr. Ian Thomas & Amanda O’Rourke Buffalo, NY: The Wellness...

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MEDIA RELEASE APRIL 12th, 2019                                                         Contact Phil Haberstro 851-4052 WELLNESS INSTITUTE ADDS MR. ROD NAGY TO THE WNY WALKS! TEAM BUFFALO, NY: The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo is pleased to announce that Mr....

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Wellness Events

< 2019 >
  • 02

    10th Annual Buffalo Day

    12:00 pm-8:00 pm
    July 2, 2019
    Tenth Annual Buffalo Day @ Chautauqua

    Tuesday, July 2, 2019 – Tenth Annual Buffalo Day @ Chautauqua – Noon-8pm

    Theme: “Imagine Communities Working Toward the Common Good: IMAGINE Greater Buffalo”**
    Noon – 8pm   FREE afternoon admission for residents of the Greater Buffalo region
    Sponsored by The Buffalo News, Visit Buffalo Niagara, WNED, Chautauqua Institution & C-SAAHN

    12:15pm-12:30pm – Hall of Philosophy
    Dennis Galucki, Founder, Annual Buffalo Day @ Chautauqua, “The Buffalo-Chautauqua Idea”

    12:30pm-1:30pm – Hall of Philosophy
    Panel presentations and discussions led by Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President/CEO Community Foundation for Grea-ter Buffalo with representatives from partner organizations addressing four themes: Education, Environment, Racial Equi-ty,  Arts & Culture. Panelists include Rabbi Jonathan Freirich, Rev. Jonathan Staples and David Rust.

    Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo – Since 1919, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has been committed to helping individuals, families and organizations make their charitable goals a reality. Today, we work with more than 400 active clients and are carrying on the legacies of an additional 500 clients. In total, we have over $485 million in charitable assets. Its mission is to connect people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York.

    2:00pm – 3:15pm Smith Memorial Library – John Jablonski, Executive Director Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy & Betsy Constantine, Executive Vice President, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, “Buffalo & American Legacy”

    3:30pm – 4:45pm Hall of Christ – Chautauqua Archives Heritage Lecture Series 
    – “Teleporting into History with TR VR: Taking Community Perspectives & Understandings into Another Dimension” Stanton H. Hudson Jr., Executive Di-rector, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site & Peter Schiffmacher, Founder, iTours 369VR / Co-Founder, Reality Capture Ex-perts

    Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site – Immigration, the role of the U.S. in global affairs, race relations, big business, the use of our natural resources…these issues dominate today’s headlines, just as they did more than a century ago, when Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo.

    ** 2019 Chautauqua Theme for Week Two: Uncommon Ground: Communities Working Toward Solutions

  • 11

    Grand Island Farmers Market

    4:00 pm-7:00 pm
    July 11, 2019

    “The 2019 Market season has finally begun! We are collaborating with TasteNY at the Western NY Welcome Center at 1999 Alvin Road (exit 19 off the 190) on Grand Island. We will open on July 11 with delicious, fresh. local produce, unique flatbread pizzas by Herb’n Garden, live music and more. We are growing our market and would love to have new and varied vendors, so please email us if you are interested in joining us!”   #comegrowwithus

    Visit their website here!

  • 13

    Crossroads of Creativity

    12:00 pm-4:00 pm
    July 13, 2019

    Crossroads of Creativity is a one day pop-up event that transforms the Crossroads of the North Buffalo Rail Trail and Linear Park into an interactive art, education, and play space for all ages. The event promotes wellness and active living, brings neighbors together, and harnesses the creativity, talents, sweat equity of community members to transform the Crossroads into a truly world class public space.

  • 20

    East Side Garden Walk

    10:00 am-3:00 pm
    July 20, 2019

    July 20, 2019 10AM–3PM

    Join us for our second annual garden tour! Tour is Free and self-guided.

    Now in its second year, the East Side Garden Walk embraces a wide range of gardens – from urban farms to simple lots cared for by neighbors, and even a jazz-inspired garden. Take time to talk to the gardeners who make these gardens special.

    East side gardening shows a strong sense of community. Even when the gardens are private, if there are vegetables or plants to be shared, the gardeners readily do so. Sometimes it’s why the garden was planted in the first place. The area also boasts a number of urban farms, one as large as two acres. If you are looking for flowers, you will find them too!


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  • Walking Wellness 2019 – Goal 125 Million Steps ~ WATCH THE HEALTHY STEPS PROGRESS! 30% 30%
  • Walking Wellness 2018 – Goal 100 Million Steps ~ GOAL SURPASSED AT 105+ MILLION STEPS TRACKED! 105% 105%

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Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo

Phil Haberstro, Executive Director
65 Niagara Square, Room 607
Buffalo, NY  14202

Phone: 716-851-4052