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Corona chosen to partake in mayor’s ‘Building Healthy Communities’ initiative

Corona will be one of 12 historically under-served communities chosen to reap the benefits of a health initiative spearheaded by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office started to “move toward a culture of health.”

Building Healthy Communities is a $5.3 million public-private partnership that will create access to “safe open spaces,” healthy food and multiple opportunities for physical activity, according to a press release. The communities were chosen for their dense populations and reported high rates of crime, obesity, diabetes and chronic disease.

According to a community health profile released by the city this year, supermarket access in Corona is the second lowest in the city. Obesity rates in the neighborhood are 25 percent, compared to a 24 percent obesity rate in New York City. The diabetes rate among adults in the area is 14 percent, compared to 10 percent in Queens and New York City as a whole.

The profile also showed that 36 percent of adults in Corona have no access to healthcare. On average, 22 percent of Queens residents reported having no access to healthcare along with 20 percent of New York City residents.

The initiative aims to establish food markets, strengthen community gardens and educate residents on nutrition. Programs will also provide free exercise classes, encourage walking and running and provide kids with more outdoor space.

Public safety issues will also be tackled; lighting and cameras will be installed in open spaces and community center hours will be extended. A number of city agencies have existing programs that will contribute to achieving the goals of this initiative including the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Transportation’s Plaza Program, which creates pedestrian plazas that can be used for exercising, farmers markets and other local programs with the help of community groups.

The NYPD and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will also participate in the initiative. Unilever, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and the New York State Health Foundation are some of the private companies who have donated money.

According to a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, many of these programs and initiatives will be rolled out within the next three years. The mayor’s office will work with other private companies to create and establish programming to increase access to healthy food, open spaces and public safety.

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