Improving Health and Wellness in East Harlem and the South Bronx Through Programming at Randall’s Island Park
Building Healthy Communities
March 21, 2017
Randall’s Island lies directly between East Harlem and the South Bronx—two communities that are well above the citywide mean for instances of obesity, diabetes, and asthma.
Both communities also fall below the citywide mean for regular physical activity, as well as below the New Yorkers for Parks’ recommendation that residents of these communities take advantage of Randall’s Island Park, citing its sports fields, pathways, and free community programming as amenities. Although community members have a strong interest in the park, there are still perceived barriers that keep them from accessing it. In response to community feedback, Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA) created its first public programs department and has seen an increase in the park’s usage. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded RIPA a grant to expand its free community programming, with an emphasis on increasing physical activity and nutrition education opportunities to engage residents of East Harlem and the South Bronx.
Under this grant, RIPA will promote the health of East Harlem and South Bronx residents by creating, expanding, and refining free community events and workshops, such as walking tours and exercise classes. To increase residents’ use of the park, RIPA will double the number of physical activity programs and increase the hours of operation of the park’s urban farm, which offers workshops on nutrition, cooking, and other healthy food topics. In addition, RIPA will encourage more children to use the park through the expansion of the urban farm education program and increased participation in the Jesse Owens Track & Field Club. RIPA will periodically evaluate the project through outreach and data collection, which will help it refine and adjust the free programs offered by Randall’s Island to better fit the needs and desires of East Harlem and South Bronx residents.