The Sgt. Anthony Park Neighborhood Association is committed to making their neighborhood park a beautiful and useful space for recreation, horticulture, and agricultural production. The Park is a small oasis of nature in the Heights, and the team behind the Association works tirelessly to maintain and upgrade the park. We asked the Sgt. Anthony Park Neighborhood Association the same five questions we asked all of our mini-grantees. Here’s how they answered:
What does building a culture of health mean to you?
The Sgt. Anthony Neighborhood believes that health and nutrition are integral parts of our larger commitment to create healthier, safer places for our residents. A lot of that starts with fostering a culture of health in our neighborhood, from a deeper understanding of where food comes from, to greater knowledge on how to cook and eat healthily, to just having a place where people can spend time outdoors–whether it’s for exercise, recreation or simply relaxing.
What would you identify as your most significant accomplishment so far towards building a greater culture of health? What have been some of your toughest barriers?
This year the Sgt Anthony Park Association opened a new part of the community garden, to offer free plots for vegetable growers and gardeners. It was a big step toward our larger goal of creating a place for people who want to engage with healthy living and eating, or take part in a shared activity. Now that it’s open and operational, we plan to promote the garden to the broader neighborhood, so it can serve people beyond the more serious gardeners who claimed the first plots.
The park playground and basketball court have been promised renovation for many years, and we’ve fought hard to ensure that the park is safe enough for young children to play in. To that end, 2018 was a very rewarding year, with the City approving a renovation budget to update our (now over 20-year-old) playground. While we had hoped that this new equipment would be installed in the Fall, the City has informed us that it will be delayed, again, till Spring 2019. But these renovations should be quick (once they start), and shouldn’t affect the residents’ access to the community garden.
Tell us about your team. What they do to build a culture of health in Jersey City?
Bart Warshaw, Chelsea Carter, Kevin Lyons and Efrem Oshinsky make up the Sgt Anthony Park Neighborhood Association’s board, and Norrice Raymaker is our Head Gardener. We also have a number of contributing members who will be instrumental in building the program and spreading the word.
How do you plan on using your Culture of Health Grant?
The Sgt. Anthony Park Neighborhood is within the medical district of the Jersey City Heights, and is adjacent to Carepoint Christ Hospital. Many of the nearby stores are fast food chains or corner delis, and fresh fruit or vegetables can be hard to find. Also, because of the park’s small size and tucked-away location, many people who live nearby in The Heights do not even know that it’s there—let alone that there’s a community garden just waiting for them to dig in. So we plan to heavily promote a free gardening program for anyone who lives nearby. The program would teach residents grow their own vegetables and the benefits of healthier eating, and will hopefully offer physical activity classes within the community garden and the larger park, as our free yoga classes currently do. To that end, we have partnered with a local Boy Scout troop, who will helping us prepare some of the spaces, and will pilot some of our intended programs.
If you knew of an organization that was thinking of joining the Partnership for a Healthier JC, what would you say to encourage them to join?
Of course we would! Jersey City is a town—several towns, really—full of new parents, multi-generational families, young people, recent transplants and long-time natives, all of whom would benefit from a healthier environment. With all the wonderful prosperity and new interest that we’ve seen flooding into our community, it’s more important than ever to make sure that our citizens’ ability to live well and healthily isn’t limited to a few neighborhoods, but rather available to as many people as possible.
For more information about the Sgt. Anthony Neighborhood Park Association, please click here.