Get fit and stay fit with US

Sep 3, 2013 | | categories: Programs

If summer is about one thing, it's about getting in tip-top shape. Healthy living is something everyone can relate and aspire to, but in today's economy it's not something everyone can afford. In fact, 30% of residents in the Chinatown and Lower East Side neighborhoods have incomes less than $19,000 a year. When it comes to paying rent and feeding a family, an expensive gym membership and organic groceries take a backseat.

University Settlement has been a pillar in the community providing low-cost fitness classes and workshops, and this summer we expanded those services through a new partnership. Our programs joined forces with EmblemHealth and the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families for a local community health initiative. Through the "Live Healthy" program EmblemHealth offered six weeks of free workshops and classes to promote healthy, active lifestyles and a healthy diet. Our already established relationships with Chinatown and Lower East Side neighbors made it easy to market the ongoing fitness classes, cooking demonstrations and health care education.

With an aging population in these communities, we knew it was crucial to make the workshops accessible for our seniors. Classes were held at our Senior Center in 189 Allen Street and Confucius Plaza, a residential community served by Visiting Nurse Services of New York and US. Classes like Zumba, Healthy Caribbean Cooking, and Cardio Kickboxing allowed for our older participants to socialize with peers while working towards their personal health goals. One participant noted that she started the summer feeling depressed about the loss of her husband, but coming to class lifted her spirits and she's set on maintaining her healthy lifestyle by continuing to take classes.

The classes were so successful in our Senior Center and Confucius Plaza that we are bringing another cycle of classes and workshops to the Houston Street Center this fall. The dynamic participants at the HSC, ranging from children to active seniors, will benefit from our continuing EmblemHealth partnership with classes tailored to their needs and wants.

Like our partnership with the Visiting Nurse Services of New York, our relationship with an experienced provider like EmblemHealth allows us to bring quality resources deep into the local community. We've certainly had an active summer - and are looking forward to a lively fall - at University Settlement!

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