Manhattan – Helping Youth Stay Active with the Active Design Guidelines Toolkit for Schools!


Helping Youth Stay Active with the Active Design Guidelines Toolkit for Schools!

Thanks to the hard work and collaboration from the many partners involved with the Partnership for a Healthier Manhattan, The Active Design Guidelines Toolkit for Schools is almost here! This toolkit describes how active design can promote physical activity and contribute to students’ overall success and well-being. It will address physical spaces in and around schools and how they can be transformed into more active spaces. It will identify specific resources and programs for students to help them be more active throughout their day Getting To-and-From School, At School, and In the Community.

The toolkit will also provide a section for Making it Happen, where there will be guides and resources to assist with bringing these projects and programs to life! These simple suggestions have immense potential to improve the health and well-being of New York City’s students.  The case studies and resources in the toolkit help to turn these new visions into a reality and show that none of it is done alone. Engaging your school community is critical.  Be sure to connect with organizations that can be helpful when looking for funding or other tangible resources featured throughout the toolkit. Finally, it is hoped that the toolkit will inspire school officials, community stakeholders and others to think about the spaces in and around schools and how they can be utilized and improved to provide more enjoyable days and better health for New York City’s students.

Keep a look out for the toolkit as it’ll be coming soon!


Bronx – Helping Improve Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables


Helping Improve Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets for many New Yorkers can be expensive. However, there are three federally funded programs to help reduce the costs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamps), the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), and the WIC Vegetable & Fruit voucher (WIC V&F) initiative. Also, Health Bucks are available from the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). While most of these programs have been successful, the WIC V&F checks program has been a challenge, despite over 8.6 million individuals participating in the WIC program in NY State.[i] In 2010, only 4 percent of the WIC V&F vouchers were redeemed at farmers’ markets across NY State.[ii]

To increase the redemption rate of WIC V&F vouchers at farmers markets in NYC, the Partnership for a Healthier Bronx at Bronx Health REACH/Institute for Family Health collaborated with the Partnership for a Healthier NYC, Public Health Solutions’ Neighborhood WIC Program, farmers market operators and other WIC centers and the DOHMH to develop a new promotional video and farmers market map that promote the WIC V&F voucher program. The materials were developed based on interviews with key stakeholders and focus groups with WIC participants about their purchasing patterns of vegetables and fruits and barriers to usage of farmers’ markets and other benefits programs among WIC participants and how to best promote the WIC V&F voucher program.

The 90 second promotional video highlights the availability of farmers’ markets across NYC that accept WIC V&F vouchers and other benefit programs and provides instructions to WIC participants on how to find them. Also, the video emphasizes the freshness and variety of vegetables and fruits available at farmers markets. The map is based on the DOHMH’s popular farmers’ market map. In addition to including a list of locations of the farmers markets, cooking demonstrations and food activities for kids, the new map notes which farmers’ markets accept WIC F&V vouchers and FMNP.

The video and map will be available online at starting in October. Over the next year, we hope to distribute them to WIC centers, community groups and local television stations throughout NYC. For more information and to obtain copies of the video and map, please contact Emma Rodgers at or 212-633-0800 x1249

[i] United States Department of Agriculture. Special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children (WIC). (2013). Retrieved from

[ii] GrowNYC 2010 EBT Report, supra note 58. Note that this does not reflect total redemption rates for SNAP or the WIC F&V check in New York State that year, as those two programs can be used in many retail venues besides farmers’ markets.

Staten Island – Health Bucks Program

Staten Island

This summer brought the inclusion of the Heath Bucks Program to the Partnership for a Healthier Staten Island.  The Partnership, along with Transportation Alternatives, domestic violence support groups and a group of adults with special needs, has completed several Green Market tours and healthy eating food talks.  The Staten Island Partnership also took part in an exciting event, the Grow to Give Garden Party sponsored by Staten Hunger Task Force , where they supported local gardeners in giving their excess harvest to a food pantry in their neighborhood – all the food pantries were represented at this event!

Queens – Community-led Healthy Eating Business Challenge Takes Off


Community-led Healthy Eating Business Challenge Takes Off

A group of community-based organizations in Jamaica, Queens, a neighborhood with high obesity levels, has initiated a successful healthy business retail project, The Jamaica Healthy Business Challenge.

Approximately eight organizations, including Business Improvement Districts, cultural organizations, nutrition organizations and a church have been meeting regularly to identify potential businesses to take part in the Challenge, assess progress, plan the overall project and visit some of the stores. Fifteen corner stores, small groceries and restaurants have signed on to take the Challenge to date.

On August 19th, twenty-five participants from different community organizations came together to coordinate a Day of Recognition. Some participants came from healthy eating projects around the borough to learn about the Challenge and see the changes the businesses had made. Four different media outlets covered the day which consisted of a press conference in front of a bodega, four food demonstrations taking place simultaneously at bodegas and restaurants across the neighborhood and volunteers handing out leaflets to the public, to promote the businesses that are taking the challenge.

Jamaica, like the rest of New York City, has high rates of obesity and diabetes, and it is known that increasing healthy choices in retail locations and helping to market them is proven to be an effective way to combat obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. Creating an environment with healthier options and signage promoting those options makes them more accessible to individuals at risk of or suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Increasing the availability of healthy options in food retail stores in any given neighborhood, in a long-term sustainable way, requires a set of local actors to be involved. Ideally, local people who live, work and purchase food items in that neighborhood should drive the process by selecting businesses to approach, designing the requested changes and providing public support to encourage businesses to make the desired changes. In the case of Jamaica, the participants were all leaders of organizations that have constituencies in the neighborhood and who have the ability to influence businesses, as well as publicly acknowledge and promote businesses that make changes. The Sutphin Blvd. Business Improvement District was particularly helpful. The director visited the business owners with whom she has strong, trusting relationships and introduced them to the Challenge.

Two public health students with strong ties to the community began working on the project in June and have strengthened the project. The project asks stores and restaurants to sign on to a challenge and asks them to meet a certain number of criteria, which include increasing availability of fruits, vegetables and whole grains; reducing sugary drinks and fried foods and improving the placement and promotion of healthy products or menu items.

Healthy “lunch combos” and “snack combos” have been particularly attractive to the business owners. Since the businesses perceive the requests as coming from the community, many have expressed interest in participating. Another factor in the success is that participating organizations have approached stores that they frequent, so they are seen not only as community leaders, but as customers. Businesses have begun to implement changes, but they have until mid-August to complete the Challenge. Return visits will be made to help participating businesses implement the changes and offer them attractive signage.

This work is providing healthier food options in downtown Jamaica and its outskirts. It is also serving as a positive example for organizations in Corona and Woodside that are working on similar projects as part of the Partnership for a Healthier Queens.

Three key lessons learned from the project:

Building strong relationships with business owners is key. These relationships can be built with a quick visit or two, if the visitor can really connect with the owners and convince them of the benefits of making changes. For example, we found many business owners with a strong interest in health and nutrition, even if that didn’t translate into a healthy business. Returning multiple times, always with a friendly smile and a reminder about how important we know this issue is for them, went a long way.

Second, attractive signage is valued by o small businesses that have little in the way of professional signage.

Finally, holding a big press event that set a deadline for changes to be made, showed business owners that the larger community was paying attention and hearing about their business, even if that particular business didn’t get a press interview. The press event, along with the food demonstrations and flyer distribution, also generated a lot of excitement around the project.

The current and future success of the project is attributable to the leadership of the following local organizations: Cultural Collaborative Jamaica, Community Board 12, Sutphin Blvd BID, Catholic Charities WIC Center, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Public Health Solutions, Down to Earth Markets and First Presbyterian Church of St. Albans.

The next steps will be to leave promotional flyers at more community centers, to conduct monitoring visits to encourage businesses to fully comply with the challenge and for the local organizations to each commit to monitoring one or two of the businesses in the long term.

Brooklyn – Volunteers gather to stimulate physical activity in Northern Bed-Stuy


Volunteers gather to stimulate physical activity in Northern Bed-Stuy

On June 26th, 2014, 40-plus volunteers gathered at Willoughby Court Apartments in Northern Bed-Stuy to paint two murals and two stairwells. The paint job was part of an active design project aimed at stimulating physical activity for the 600-plus residents of Willoughby Court. Central Brooklyn residents report significantly low rates of physical activity. According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 28% of Central Brooklyn residents are inactive or insufficiently active[1]. In order to improve the rate of physical activity in Central Brooklyn, The Partnership for a Healthier Brooklyn has been working to transform under- and unutilized spaces into areas that inspire physical activity. The goal is to make physical activity easy and attractive by creating an environment that is more conducive to physical activity. To accomplish this, Healthier Brooklyn aims to incorporate physical activity into spaces that are part of everyday life, such as stairwells.

The stairwells at Willoughby Court serve over 270 households, but were dark, dreary and unattractive. Most residents did not like taking the stairs and chose the elevator instead. In addition, 2 newly renovated community rooms were envisioned as areas that could host fitness classes and more. Healthier Brooklyn worked with New York Cares to bring in a muralist, Nick Dicostanzo and volunteers to get the job done, all in 3 hours. Feedback about what inspires the youth living at Willoughby to be active was incorporated into the murals. Bike riding, jumping rope and basketball can be seen in the murals.   Inspiring messages such as “Step to Healthy Living” and “Be a Stair Master” as well as creative, colorful images were painted in the stairwells. Finally, “Take the Stairs!” stair prompts created by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene were hung near the elevators in the lobby to further promote stair usage and allow more people to see the paintings. The mural project is part of an ongoing active design plan that began in 2013 with the construction of a new playground in a single day with KaBOOM! and over 200 volunteers. Healthier Brooklyn plans to connect Willoughby Court Apartments to fitness instructors that will utilize the community rooms for classes. Participants will enjoy the new colorful murals, which will also inspire children to stay active.


[1] NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Epiquery: NYC Interactive Health Data System – Community Health Survey 2012. Viewed August 28, 2014.

A Word from the Executive Director

Dear Partners,

This is our last newsletter as an independent organization. As you probably know, funding for the Community Transformation Grant program was not renewed by Congress, so as of September 29th the Partnership for a Healthier New York City will cease to exist as an autonomous entity. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will assume responsibility for the Partnership and its work, with the hope that our coalitions will continue to grow and pursue environmental change in communities throughout the city.

We have accomplished a great deal during our 3 grant years and on behalf of our entire team, I want to thank you for the honor of being allowed to partner with you as we built our formidable citywide coalition of over 450 multi-sector community-based organizations. Due to our work, almost 1 million New Yorkers now have greater access to ways to be healthier. Almost 6,000 units of smoke-free housing have either been created or are under consideration impacting more than 13,000 people. Over 100,000 people are being positively impacted by smoke-free outdoor policies adopted by organizations as a result of our interventions. Our active living work is making it easier for more than 500,000 people to be more physically active. The Partnership’s efforts to increase availability of healthy foods and beverages in all communities are impacting over 370,000 New Yorkers.   Our work to raise awareness about the harms of excessive and underage alcohol use has reached thousands. And the work continues.

Since our inception, the Partnership has worked to not only make the healthy choice the easy choice for New Yorkers, especially those experiencing health disparities, but has helped build capacity within communities to equip them to advocate for themselves. As a result of our collective action, communities now have the knowledge and access to networks that will result in more powerful and effective self-advocacy. But more needs to be done.

Under the Health Department’s leadership we expect that the Partnership’s work will continue to grow and shift as needs in communities change and more resources are identified. We at Partnership central wish all of you much success in the future and hope that our paths will cross again as we strive to make New York City a healthier place to live work and play.

Earl Brown

Executive Director


Uncovering Alcohol’s Hidden Harms


Background:  In the spring of 2013, the Partnership for a Healthier New York City put out a request for personal stories from New Yorkers about how alcohol caused problems for them, their families, or their communities. In response, we received hundreds of powerful and illuminating stories. We selected several of the most compelling stories to share.

Introduction:  Excessive alcohol consumption is a major public health problem. In fact, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States1. Underage and excessive drinking can have serious – and often tragic – consequences.

Throughout this book, you will read about the experiences of everyday New Yorkers of all ages. Together, these stories demonstrate the collective impact of excessive alcohol consumption and the problems it causes in our City.

We invite you to share your story and help others understand the impacts of alcohol.

About Us:  The Partnership for a Healthier New York City is a citywide coalition comprised of hundreds of community-based organizations, faith- based organizations, existing coalitions, and businesses. Together we work to make healthy living easier and more affordable for everyone. As a component of promoting healthy living, we raise awareness of the harms of underage and excessive drinking.

Find out more at

The Prall Mural Project Spreads Healthy Messages on Staten Island

The Partnership for a Healthier Staten Island at SIPCW, New York Cares, and New York City Parks have teamed up with Kim Salt, local Staten Islander and New York based designer and illustrator, to develop a mural that reflects the community’s vision for a healthy Staten Island.  The group canvassed the neighborhood surrounding Prall Playground in West Brighton to solicit ideas and engage local businesses, youth and families about what it means to pursue a healthy lifestyle.   Emily Burkhardt, Project Manager, Staten Island, New York Cares expressed “New York Cares loves to paint murals in schools, community centers, and parks with the help of volunteers because they bring creative inspiration and hope to the spaces and are a unique reflection of the community members and their vision of these public spaces.”

Prall Mural

“The Dare to Dream of a Healthier Staten Island Mural project is an opportunity for the community to use positive messaging to encourage physical activity, use of parks, and healthy eating,” says, Jody Stoll, Program Manager for the Partnership for a Healthier Staten Island, a project of SIPCW. “We are committed to making this community a healthier place to live, work and play.”

Over 90 youth engage in the Race to Tag Healthswag!

The Partnership for a Healthier NYC, The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the YMCA of Greater New York hosted the 2nd Annual Tag Healthswag Youth Engagement Conference on Thursday, June 5th.   We had over 90 youth from all over NYC between the ages of 13 and 20 come and participate!

The conference kicked off at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation at 8am, with an in-depth training for youth about ways they can advocate for healthy living in their own communities.  The youth then, with the help of volunteers, traveled throughout the city with the goal of asking as many businesses and organizations as possible to make the “Healthswag Promise”.  Over 27 businesses from all five boroughs signed promises to promote healthier living.


The day culminated at Hudson River Park, Pier 25, along the Hudson River Greenway, to celebrate the day with music, sand-volleyball, mini-golf and a practice field with games and activities.

This was a full day dedicated to empowering youth from the 5 boroughs to help make NYC a healthier place and give them the tools to raise awareness and make impactful healthy improvements, both personally and in their community.