Near Westside Community Engagement
Building Healthy Communities
May 19, 2016
Through its Healthy Neighborhoods Fund initiative, NYSHealth is supporting six communities across the State in their efforts to increase residents’ access to nutritious food, opportunities for physical activity, and other initiatives that encourage healthy living.
Healthy Neighborhoods Fund grantees and their partners have sought ways to increase community engagement so they can equip residents with the tools they need to advocate for healthy, affordable food and safer parks and public spaces in which to be physically active. Community engagement not only helps shape a neighborhood’s future, but also ensures that improvements are sustainable. To advance community engagement efforts, NYSHealth allocated up to $50,000 to each Healthy Neighborhoods Fund site toward additional training, capacity building, and other activities that lead to deep engagement with neighborhood residents. In 2016, NYSHealth awarded the Near Westside Initiative (NWSI) a grant as part of this effort.
Under this grant, NWSI engaged community residents and empowered them to advocate for nutritious, affordable food and built environments that encourage more physical activity in their neighborhoods. Specifically, NWSI coordinated a summer youth recreation program, neighborhood dinner meetings, and a leadership development program, as well as increased awareness for community events that promote health, wellness, and public safety in the community. NWSI hired neighborhood youth and a youth supervisor to host daily sports clinics and activities over the summer in Skiddy Park—the only public park in the neighborhood, which was renovated with NYSHealth support. Neighborhood residents attended Kitchen Table Talks, where residents had time to purposely talk about the community and what could be improved. From these talks, a Community Input Team was formed to assist with future community engagement and the development of new projects. Community residents were dubbed ambassadors for the Westside after completing the leadership development program administered by NWSI.