Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bronx Hill Health and NYS DoH Grants of $114,000 Kick Off UAlbany "Healthy Hearts on the Hill" Initiative

"Biggest Winner" competition steers Albany neighborhoods toward better health through exercise, nutritional choices.

The UAlbany School of Social Welfare's Center for Excellence in Aging Services, part of the Healthy Hearts on the Hill Coalition, is sponsoring the "Biggest Winner" competition. Bronx Health REACH and the Centers for Disease Control provided a Legacy Grant of $42,500 to fund the project. Additionally the NY State Department of Health granted $72,270 to the Coalition to develop exercise facilities and safe walking paths. The program is designed to steer members of communities toward better health through exercise, nutritional choices, and access to health care.

Studies show that African Americans and Latinos, among other minority groups, are more likely than whites to suffer poor health outcomes from diabetes and heart disease. The Healthy Hearts on the Hill Coalition was formed to bring health and wellness opportunities to the neighborhoods of West Hill, in Albany, N.Y. The program raises awareness about blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes and healthy lifestyle changes that can impact health outcomes.

Over an eight-month period, residents of West Hill, an Albany community characterized by economic struggle and significant disparities in health care, will be encouraged to make healthy choices by engaging in exercise and nutritional and health care screening, and by establishing necessary community support to sustain these activities. The program offers community members opportunities to earn "healthy hearts" points for completed activities, making them eligible for monthly and grand prize drawings.

"The downtown campus of the University at Albany 'lives' in the West Hill community," said Center for Excellence in Aging Services director Phillip McCallion. "It is important that as neighbors we support the community's efforts to improve health and quality of life."

"This effort to address health concerns has been designed by a community coalition to reinforce what is good and what is being achieved in this community," said Lisa Ferretti, operations director at the Center for Excellence in Aging Services.

"Solutions lie within West Hill itself, we are a faith-based and secular, resident and professional, young and old group who know we can make a difference in our community," said Dr. Bob Paeglow, director of the West Hill clinic Koinonia Primary Care. "We welcome support from beyond our streets but we will make this change in our community for ourselves."

The program will eventually cover other Albany areas characterized by health disparity, including Arbor Hill, the South End, and subsidized housing projects.

The Coalition was co-founded in 2007 by the Center for Excellence in Aging Services at UAlbany's School of Social Welfare, and Koinonia Primary Care, a faith-based healthcare provider that serves the West Hill community. The Coalition includes representation from many local organizations including Albany United Methodist Society, Albany Community Action Partnership, Healthy Capital District Initiative, West Hill Ministerium, West Hill Neighborhood Association, Pfizer, FidelisCare, American Cancer Society, community residents and several local senior housing developments and food pantries.

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