Sport for physical and mental health

The main objective of the initiative is to transform sports environments into places to promote family-centered mental and physical health.

Photo: New York City Department of Health / Courtesy

At the end of May, there was a New York City Department of Health and Mental Health (DOHMH) pilot project known as Sports for Family Health, a community-wide health initiative that aims to transform sports environments into places to promote mental and emotional health. Physical health revolves around the family.

The project, which is a Queens Health District Health Program of the Office of Health Equality and Skills Development of the Department of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHMH), seeks to reduce conditions that lead to premature deaths among young adults and their families in New York City, primarily in neighborhoods with large numbers of minorities and immigrants. population.

To date, about 436 children between the ages of 7 and 17 in low-income neighborhoods in Queens County (Jamaica, Far Rockaways and Corona) participate in sports activities such as football, snowboarding and basketball.

While children participate in these sports, their parents can sign up for workshops and physical activities including yoga, Zumba, blood pressure management, CPR, COVID-19 prevention and mental health.

By participating in these projects, young people and their families can increase physical activity, develop and improve life skills, and increase social cohesion and feelings of belonging at a community level.

“The Sports for Family Health program creates spaces for family members that help them improve their physical and mental health. When children play together, they develop important skills such as empathy, teamwork, strategy development, and above all, it helps them create stronger communities” development.

Dr. Hernandez highlighted the importance of children and their parents’ ability to interact personally with other members of the community after experiencing the mental health consequences of isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latter is very important because Corona was the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in New York City at the start of the pandemic and many of these families lost a friend or family member. Many are of Hispanic origin.

“The program is also an opportunity for children and the family in general to break out of lockdown, develop a sense of community and reconnect,” Hernandez said.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan joined the kids to share their soccer skills. / Image copyright Dohm

During an event for this program, last Monday, May 23, at the Louis Armstrong Rehabilitation Center, on Northen Blvd, Corona, 30 children had the opportunity to participate in soccer exercises and learned another 30 basketball techniques. While the kids were enjoying the balls, their parents received free training from DOHMH staff on how to measure their blood pressure and how they could prevent high blood pressure through a balanced diet, low sodium intake and physical activity.

The event participants, adults and children, mostly Hispanic, were surprised to visit New York City’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, who in addition to speaking with parents in Spanish, joined the youngsters to play mini soccer.

“Your participation in this program is very important to the community and to the health of the community, especially after COVID-19. Thank you so much for your participation and for getting your children to start their lives healthy,” Dr. Vasan told Hispanic mothers during his visit.

The Department of Health and Safety has also partnered with two community organizations in Jamaica, Queens to offer sports clinics to the youth of the area that include basketball and football. Clinics are held in a local park called the Roy Wilkins Leisure Center from Sunday, June 19 through Thursday, June 30.

Other similar events will be held in other Queens neighborhoods and although registrations are now closed, DOHMH has announced that the program will be expanded next year.

Source: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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