WXXI AM News

Can Exercise Improve the City's Health Problems?

Sep 24, 2015

Miguel Melendez talks about Project HOPE at the Urban Health Summit.
Credit Courtesy Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency

Exercise is the first domino in a line of desired health outcomes. That was the message at the Urban Health Summit Thursday at the Maplewood YMCA.

How do you get people in the city's poorest neighborhoods to get out and exercise? Organizations that work for that goal shared their projects with others at Rochester’s inaugural Urban Health Summit.

Theresa Lou Bowick, founder of Conkey Cruisers, gets her neighbors on donated bikes to improve their health. She says her message is one of empowerment.

"I can do it. I can roll out of diabetes. I can roll out of hypertension. I can get on my bicycle and go to the grocery store for $2.50, instead of buying it in the neighborhood at the corner store for $5. Those are the things that we’re teaching," says Bowick.

Miguel Melendez is the coordinator for Project HOPE at the Ibero-American Developemnt Corporation. He says neighbors are working together to improve both their health and their neighborhood.

"I think that residents have really learned over time the importance of being outdoors, being in their own community, finding ways to accessing exercise opportunities, utilizing their own parks in their neighborhood," says Melendez.

The summit also highlight work on community gardens and the work of community health advocates.