Supporting Year-Round Physical Activity Programming Expansion for Youth in the Near Westside
Building Healthy Communities
June 28, 2017
The Near Westside—an NYSHealth Healthy Neighborhoods Fund community—is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Syracuse; nearly 70% of children live in poverty. Residents have expressed a need for more organized sports and mentorship opportunities for local youth.
However, many sports and after-school activities offered are fee-based and unaffordable for parents. To encourage Near Westside youth to be more physically active and engaged in their community, NYSHealth has supported efforts by grantees and other community partners to launch the Summer Fun at Skiddy Park program in the neighborhood’s only park. The summer program has offered a full roster of organized opportunities for physical activity, including a soccer clinic, a summer softball league, and a teen baseball clinic. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded Missio Church a grant to provide expanded physical activity programming year-round for youth in the Near Westside.
Under this grant, Missio Church will build on the progress made through Summer Fun at Skiddy Park to provide year-round programming, completely free of charge, to many of the young children living in the neighborhood. It will collaborate with community partners and residents to increase the number of children participating in the physical activity programs, including sports and arts activities at Skiddy Park, a softball league, and the after-school Westside Kids’ Club. By engaging adult and older teen volunteers, the project will help encourage consistent and positive interaction with community residents, improve peer relationships, and foster a sense of pride in the neighborhood. Through this investment, the Near Westside community will be able to plan and implement resident-driven programming that will redefine public spaces and promote public safety and health.