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Organizations & residents of the Bronx are coming together to develop a Bronx Healthy Neighborhoods Platform to address the longstanding health issues that our people face daily!  While being healthy requires individual decision making, it also requires big picture policies that change the conditions of our borough and make it easier for Bronxites to live a healthy life.  We recognize that health is more than just access to traditional health care-- holistic health addresses conditions in the home, our schools, the streets, the air and our consumption options.  Mental, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual conditions together contribute to holistic health.  Our Bronx Healthy Neighborhoods Platform is a chance for us to work together with our elected officials to change the conditions in the Bronx so we are no longer famous for our asthma, diabetes, obesity, incarceration, unemployment and crime rates!  Instead, we can set the example for urban transformation!

Here are some of the statistics that move us to action:

The Bronx suffers disproportionately from poverty, asthma, malnutrition and obesity, and needs a mayor who prioritizes a proactive strategy to reversing these trends and work with the community to grow holistic health opportunities.

Asthma affects approximately 20% of the children in the Bronx, 4-5 times greater than the national average and 21 times greater than some other areas in New York City. Sixty-six percent of the Bronx County's inhabited area is affected by major sources of pollution.

While the overall percentage of people living in poverty in the Bronx is 27%, half of whom are working full or part time. According to the recent census, pockets of the Bronx suffer from poverty rates up to 82%.  The Bronx has an overall unemployment rate of 11.9%, the highest in NYC. Census tracks record up to 59% unemployment for Blacks and Latinos.  

One in three people in the South Bronx were unable to afford a meal in the past year i.e. 36.3% of the people in the Bronx’s 16th Congressional District. This represents the highest percent in the nation.   

The Bronx has the highest rate of diabetes and obesity in NYC, with 62.7% of residents overweight or obese compared to 55% in NYC overall. No Community District in the Bronx achieves the ratio of supermarkets to people recommended by the Department of City Planning. South Bronx residents are 5 to 8 times more likely to die from diabetes than residents from the City’s  wealthier neighborhoods.

Eight out of 10 Bronx youth do not meet daily recommendations for exercise. All Bronx elementary schools that were sampled by the Comptroller in 2011 failed to comply with state mandates of 120 minutes of PE per week.  Staffing and space are major obstacles to schools complying with state mandates.  

One out of five Bronx residents has no health insurance.


Letter to
Republican Candidate for NYC Mayor Joseph Lhota
Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio
We call upon the next mayor of New York City to join us in endorsing the Bronx Healthy Neighborhoods Platform!

We invite the winning candidate to join us on a tour of the Bronx during November or December of 2013 to understand firsthand the challenges and opportunities for holistic health in our community.

The Bronx Healthy Neighborhoods Platform calls for:

-Healthy Food & Physical Activities
-Equitable access to Health Care
-Non-toxic Schools & Housing
-Clean Air, Energy, Water & Soil
-Climate Change Resiliency
-Living Wage Green Jobs
-Vegetable Gardens at every School
-Culture & Arts opportunities
-Restorative Justice
-Sustainable Transportation
-Green Infrastructure

(see detailed platform below).

To endorse the platform, join the tour or for more information, contact Heidi Hynes, executive director of the Mary Mitchell Center at (718) 583-1765 or via email at

Initiating Organizations: The Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, Mothers on the Move / Madres en Movimiento, the POINT, University Heights Neighborhood Preservation, Fordham University Dorothy Day Center, the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, Concourse House, Greenworker Cooperatives, the Groundswell Project, Montefiore, Mount Hope Housing Company, Bronx Health Reach, Isis Community Circle Enterprise, Sustainable South Bronx and the Blk Projek.

The Bronx Healthy Neighborhoods Platform (still in development)

Fair Economy:

• Living Wage Jobs - Many of the causes of disease and poor health in our neighborhoods stem from lack of jobs that pay a living wage. Working families should not have to live in poverty and depend on government subsidies to survive.
• Fair Taxation - In order to have sufficient funds for necessary programs there needs to be a more progressive tax system at the City, State and Federal levels and the spending priorities of our government should be based on the health and well-being of families and neighborhoods.
• Community Control of Resources - We need to nurture efforts for communities to keep their money in the neighborhood, build wealth and create more local jobs both in traditional and new economy businesses.

Access to Healthy Food and Physical Activities:

• More choices for healthy options in local restaurants
• Better quality choices in the food distribution system
• Increase Farmers Markets
• CSAs and use of the La Canasta food buying club
• Increase access to culturally relevant foods and marketing that reflects the diversity of our communities
• More positive impact of food subsidies
• Increase access and safety in local Parks
• Increase access to sports and recreation programs for youth during out-of-school time
• Ensure public transportation to food and fitness spaces.

School Health:

• Ensure health classes on a variety of topics including; sex education, nutrition, wellness, physical fitness, gardening, etc.
• Create gardens to grow food at every school.
• Create Centers in all middle and high schools to use restorative justice instead of policing for conflict resolution.
• Ensure every public school child has access to a gym and a gym teacher.
• Improve school food options.
• Incentivize school wellness plans.
• Eliminate high stakes aspect of testing which prioritizes test prep over health activities.

• Ensure high quality, affordable housing.
• Increase non-profit housing company units.
• Increase awareness of unsafe housing practices (negligent landlords, housing court inefficiencies, etc.) and how this relates to poor health outcomes (asthma, respiratory illness, mental health, etc.)
• Reduce toxins in housing including lead, mold, second hand smoke and others.
• Increase sustainable maintenance of current housing both 1,2 and 3 family homes and multi-unit apartment building.
• Reduce hyper-segregation in housing because how this impacts health outcomes.
• Incorporate active living design in new developments
• Add active living design components in existing public housing


• Ensure sustainable development practices including parks/openspace, low-impact building, green infrastructure, LEAD certified building, weatherization, energy efficiency, and more.
• Ensure clean air, water and neighborhoods to address health impacts that arise from pollution and toxins.
• Ensure sustainable transportation including bike lanes, improved mass transit, clean fuel, and more.
• Create and promote a Resiliency Plan to address climate change in the Bronx - see NYCEJA Post Sandy Recovery Plan.
• Create streetscapes through sidewalk employed and use of greenery that encourages outside activity
• Protect and increase community gardens.

Individual Wellness:

• Ensure equitable access to health care
• Increase opportunities to reduce stress at work and at home.
• Increase access to fitness and healthy food.
• Ensure support services for youth and families to enable healthy choices in school, work, home and society at large.
• Increase opportunities to live non-violently on a personal and a social level.
• Increase opportunities for culture and arts programming.

Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center started this petition with a single signature, and now has 26 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.