Outdoor Programs for Jersey City Residents
Canco Park Conservancy is an open green space venue for community programming. Their mission includes education, restoration, and conservation of open public green space – while encouraging healthy living. They have a renown butterfly pollinator garden, and their wildlife habitat restoration efforts include educational opportunities. Canco Park Conservancy also holds certifications from the Audubon Society, MonarchWatch.org, National Wildlife Federation, and the North American Butterfly Association.
HealthierJC + Canco Park Conservancy
For Canco Park Conservancy, building a Culture of Health aligns with their core belief:
“… that providing park goers with a visceral experience in a natural open green space environment fosters empathy, inclusivity and respect for each other and the natural world, [which contributes to] the health and welfare of all visitors”.
Canco Park Conservancy underwrites field trips, tours, programming and webinars that 1) share the natural world with Jersey City residents while 2) building community and camaraderie – two things that are integral for wellbeing in an urban environment. In awarding the grant, HealthierJC acknowledged the contributions of Canco Park Conservancy and the heightened importance of community connection to maintain mental and emotional health in these uncertain times.
Yoga Classes in the Park
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, Canco Park Conservancy rescheduled all their programs to start in June 2020. They were first in the area to launch a weekly in-person yoga class where attendees maintained a safe distance as they practiced the “Jivamukti Method” outdoors in a relaxing green garden environment.
These Jivamukti Method yoga classes were offered to the public in-person and virtually. In-person classes were conducted in a healthy safe open green space. Classes via Facebook Livestream enabled virtual participants to build a sense of community and connection. Throughout the COVID crisis, there yoga classes taught techniques to manage anxiety through movement, breathing, visualization and mindfulness. Canco Park Conservancy programs were designed to promote physical and mental health to alleviate community pandemic stress.
With the HealthierJC mini-grant, Canco Park Conservancy was able to conduct yoga classes for 364 Jersey City residents:
- 135 people attended 15 in-person park sessions
- 229 attended through Facebook Livestream
- Livestream sessions were recorded, shared and viewed over 1,040 times
And to make these yoga classes possible, the Canco Park Conservancy also:
- Upgraded audiovisual equipment to support Livestream programming and improve clarity of outdoor class audio
- Collaborated with HealthierJC to setup a Welcome Station with a popup canopy and water misters for cool downs, stocked with blankets for loan to sit on the grass, water bottles, hand sanitizer, masks, mosquito repellant, sunblock and helpful health related literature.
- Engaged Healthier JC to provide a framework for the program safety plan, and provide PPE for use by class attendees and the public.
- Supported a local resident yoga instructor and HealthierJC Partner – Jessica Stickler – when she was unable to work due to pandemic restrictions and health venue closures.
- On-boarded 2 high school student to supplement the team. These interns learned how to produce live stream events, coordinated class signup and attendance, administered health questionnaires and distributed PPE to class participants. Interns gained meaningful work experience to include on college admission applications.
During Livestream recording and replay, many residents expressed appreciation for the option to participate remotely given pandemic concerns.
There was one woman who would join every week, and revealed that she worked nights at a hospital and had lost her sister to COVID. She used to practice yoga on Saturdays with her sister, and the “Jivamukti Method” yoga classes made her feel connected to her sibling, connected to the outside world, and helped her manage personal and professional stress. Taking in views of the park and gardens helped her relax after her night shift.
Canco Park Conservancy will continue to develop programs that support and promote increased green space, trees, natural habitats, chemical free environments and healthful, low stress, natural living throughout the city.
While known for exercise, meditation and movement classes, Canco Park Conservancy music programming and Green Reading Rooms continue to grow in popularity. Examples of nature education programming include: Birds of Prey, Monarch Tagging, Moth Nights, Pollinator Studies, Gardening with a Grandparent, Field Trips, Nature Based Art and Journaling. In addition, Canco Park Conservancy will continue to advocate for Green Infrastructure, Rain Gardens, and Pollinator Gardens throughout Jersey City.
All this aligns the organizational mission of Canco Park Conservancy to bring nature-based education to the residents of Jersey City. They believe connection with nature and the environment improves community health and wellbeing.
Canco Park Conservancy looks forward to their continued partnership with Healthier JC to develop and execute future programming. Canco Park Conservancy has plans for “Wellness Saturdays 2023”, a weekly public program promoting increased time outside for families and residents, moving and being together in a healthy way with yoga, meditation, hooping, belly dance, mindfulness and nature journaling.
For more information about Canco Park Conservancy, please visit the organization’s website at https://www.cancoparkconservancy.org/ or call their local number at (917) 518-5851