The end of this summer, marks a major milestone for the Let’s Get Healthy, Boston! Healthy Community Champions (HCCs) initiative. Because the Federal funding for the program ends in September, we have been working to finish this phase of our work with a bang. With the support of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, we are figuring out ways to continue some of the work that HCCs have been doing and possibly focus on other healthy and age-friendly community issues. We are using this as an opportunity to develop more comprehensive community engagement strategies and policy initiatives.
Over the past couple of years, we have trained a multiracial group of over 120 community residents, who speak a total of five languages, ranging in age from 14 to 72, as effective advocates for smoke-free housing, improved access to healthy and affordable food and beverages, and expanding opportunities to incorporate safe and affordable bicycling as an active transit alternative.
On April 29, in partnership with the Boston Public Health Commission and other community groups, we convened a Bike Equity Forum at the Bruce Bolling Municipal Building in Dudley Square, Roxbury. The 4-hour forum was attended by 128 people. The focus was on expanding our thinking about who is a “cyclist,” with an emphasis on people of color and the various ways they are leading a renaissance of bicycling in Boston. In addition, thanks to Let’s Get Healthy, Boston! the city now has three women of color who have been professionally trained as Licensed Bicycle Instructors, Roxbury’s Michelle Cook, Allston-Brighton’s Farah Wong, and Mattapan’s Vivian Ortiz. In partnership with the Boston Cyclists Union. We have created a “bike library” that the instructors will be able to access for a series of safety and other classes for people who do not own their own bikes. The passion of HCCs from different neighborhoods has been an essential part of the expansion of the Hubway bike share program into new neighborhoods and the continuation of the subsidized low-income memberships.
As HCCs continue with their grassroots innovative work on ReThink Your Drink, we were pleased with the outcome of the “Thank You Tour”, with City Councilors Andrea Campbell and Tim McCarthy of Mattapan. The Mattapan team arranged congratulatory certificates from the City of Boston for 6 stores that participated, including one national pharmacy chain, and the neighborhood’s only supermarket, Americas Food Basket. We share a light moment with a corner store one, and City Councilors Tim McCarthy and Andrea Campbell in the picture below. Our estimation is that 36 corner stores continue to participate in the campaign in year 2. The RTYD campaign emphasizes drinking more “green” (water, seltzer or infused, and 1% or skim milk) and less “red” (sugar sweetened) beverages.