Health Department Rallies 85 Brooklyn Faith-Based Organizations Around Community Health Goals

At the 2016 Food, Fitness, & Faith Summit, Faith-based organizations commit to adopting healthier food guidelines, receiving Mental Health First-Aid training, form blood-pressure monitoring programs and arrange walking groups
Borough of Brooklyn Interfaith Advisory Group and Health Department honored 26 faith congregations for meeting key health goals set last year

April 13, 2016 – In partnership with the Borough of Brooklyn Interfaith Advisory Group, the New York City Health Department today convened 200 faith leaders representing 85 faith-based organizations in Brooklyn to address community health issues during the 2016 Food, Fitness & Faith Summit. In an effort to rally faith-based organizations around setting health goals and implementing congregation-led health initiatives, the summit outlined key initiatives that leaders could develop with the Health Department and take back to their congregations, including increasing and expanding opportunities for physical activity, healthier food options and overall wellness.
“Faith leaders are seen as trusted advisers in many communities, and as a result, can play an important role in improving the health of our city,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We look forward to continuing our work with faith-based organizations to set health goals for their congregations as we seek to advance health equity for all communities.”

“The leaders in our community of faith have a unique ability to speak with the diverse residents of Brooklyn in a language that inspires positive action,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “Their involvement in this effort to improve our quality of health has the potential to dramatically reduce the unacceptably high rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases in our borough. I commend Health Commissioner Bassett and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for reaching out to Brooklynites not only where they live, but also where they pray.”

“I am glad to say that over the past two years, the Food, Fitness and Faith summits have raised consciousness among members of the faith community in Brooklyn to adopt healthier lifestyles. Some of our members have implemented healthy food standards for their social and fellowship dinners, started blood pressure monitoring programs, formed walking groups and have actively participated in the Health Department’s Health Bucks program: a program that facilitate access to fresh healthy produce," said Scottie Owings President of Borough of Brooklyn Interfaith Advisory Group (BBIAG). "BBAIG is grateful for the support  of the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity to end health inequities in  our communities”

"Ghana Wesley United Methodist Church, an immigrant community in Brooklyn, is pleased to be part of the effort by NYC Department of Health's Center for Health Equity faith based initiative to address the public health needs of our community. With its assistance, our church has engaged in activities that continue to improve the health of individuals and groups. Among other activities the church participated in cut the salt campaign and hosted exercise class as well as walk in Prospect Park and receive health bucks. For example the exercise bike donated has been a great asset as the youth and young adults use it every Saturday. As a result of the health education  the church has an ongoing exercise team that focuses on physical and mental health issues. We also have a soccer team that practices every Saturday at Caton Park in Brooklyn" said Rev Dr. Samuel Arhin, Ghana Wesley United Methodist Church.

"I am so delighted that The Pentecostal House of Prayer Church is involved in the Food, Fitness & Faith Summit, along with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to improve the health of our members. Last year was very good and I know today will be just as good and informative for the Faith Leaders to share with their congregations." said Pastor Gwen Dingle, The Pentecostal House of Prayer Church.

"Our local faith leaders have invaluable knowledge of their communities and the health challenges they face. By listening to and engaging with these trusted leaders, we’re working together to create attainable, lasting solutions that advance the health of Brooklyn residents,” said Dr. Aletha Maybank, Associate Commissioner and Director of the Center for Health Equity.

"Anyone can become a 'Change Agent' in their community. With community access to shared resources, a healthy living curriculum and community health assessment tools, people can learn how to take small steps that lead to big changes in healthy living behaviors, healthy living options and heart disease and stroke prevention and survival rates," said the American Heart Association.

When compared to other areas of New York City, residents of North and Central Brooklyn are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

In its third year, the summit asked faith leaders to make four commitments:
  • Adopt healthier food standards for kitchens and events
  • Form walking groups
  • Develop blood pressure monitoring programs; and
  • Enroll in Mental Health First-Aid training
After the summit, the Center for Health Equity’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives will continue to work alongside Brooklyn’s Interfaith Advisory Group to track the progress of commitments and begin to plan health events and activities around HIV/AIDS awareness, breastfeeding support, and chronic disease prevention.
Engaging the faith-based community is one of several neighborhood-based strategies of the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity, which was created in 2014 to advance health equity. This year, the Center for Health Equity will open three new Neighborhood Health Action Centers in Brooklyn, Bronx, and Harlem to provide space for primary care and much-needed non-clinical services in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of chronic disease and premature death. The Health Action Centers will provide much-needed space for community-based organizations and Health Department staff to work together to advance neighborhood health.



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