The Healthy Hill Initiative in Action

August 31, 2018

Beatrice:    Hi, I'm Beatrice Dewberry, Community Building and Engagement Manager at Way Finders. I have the good fortune to manage the Healthy Hill Initiative. It's a five year public health initiative that focuses on one neighborhood in Springfield, the Old Hill neighborhood. We were able to secure funding through the BUILD Health Challenge in 2015 for a two-year planning grant. And then, through community and investment tax credit funds, we were able to leverage those credits to secure additional funding through Baystate Health, to actually implement the Healthy Hill Initiative.

The Old Hill neighborhood is a neighborhood in Springfield with a population of about 4,300. It's a neighborhood that's been plagued by blight. It's an area that a lot of residents have said "We need some attention." And Way Finders has put a lot of energy and attention into Old Hill over the past decade.

Let's Play is a bimonthly fitness activity for neighborhood youth. We come to a park, which we've kind of taken over and taken back, and with C3 police we play with our youngsters, we engage with family there. And this is an effort that's really grown over the course of two years, starting with maybe eight children and now we have more than 60 children why are registered with the program.

Another programmatic piece we have is Chairobics. And with Chairobics we have the senior active older adult population that is coming by weekly to a community room that is a part of the Springfield Housing Authority Senior Living Center. Residents come ... Not only has it been a means for them to get fit and to exercise in a way that's comfortable for them, it's even been a way for them to socialize and really form those bonds that are necessary to get residents engaged fully, and really forming the community that we need to empower them to some degree, to advocate for the issues that are prevalent in their neighborhood.

Speaker 2:    ... think that when individuals take the time to look around the community and work together, because the neighborhoods are ours. And there's nothing like being a good neighbor.

Speaker 3:    This is my first time, and I am pleasantly surprised. I kind of really pretty much underestimated the experience. But it was a very good one, and I'll definitely come back.

Beatrice:    Some of our work does also go out to the neighboring neighborhoods as well. We have Upper Hill residents, Six Corners residents, South End residents as well, that are participating in our programs. So it's great to see that ripple, that we know that we're targeting one neighborhood, but it's still having an impact even beyond one neighborhood.