East Harlem Community Engagement Strategies
Building Healthy Communities
October 20, 2017
The Healthy Neighborhoods Fund community of East Harlem is a culturally diverse neighborhood.
But like many neighborhoods of color, East Harlem has experienced a systemic lack of investment in resources and continues to experience political and economic inequality. These factors have contributed to making East Harlem the 12th poorest neighborhood in New York City. East Harlem residents experience worse health outcomes than residents of many other New York City neighborhoods, and preventable chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, are common. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded the Fund for Public Health in New York (FPHNY) a grant to develop community engagement strategies that improve access to public spaces and create opportunities for East Harlem residents to be physically active.
Under this grant, FPHNY built on the success of the East Harlem Community Walking Trail, a 3.5-mile pathway along sidewalks in the community that connects residents to Central Park and Randall’s Island. FPHNY convened a monthly steering committee to develop further programs and strategies for improving access to public spaces for physical activity. Core activities to improve the built environment included sustaining the East Harlem Community Walking Trail; launching a communications campaign for physical activity in East Harlem; and supporting the El Barrio Bikes community cycling initiative. FPHNY and the steering committee collaborated to increase community engagement by amplifying community voices and working toward local solutions with residents and partners.