Trans­form­ing Tren­ton — Small Steps Can Have A Big Im­pact

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - OPINION -

Last year, a study re­leased by Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Univer­sity re­vealed that the dif­fer­ence in life ex­pectancy be­tween liv­ing in Tren­ton and nearby Prince­ton Junc­tion is 14 years. Un­for­tu­nately, the news was no sur­prise given that nearly half of the res­i­dents had in­formed us in a pre­vi­ous sur­vey that they found it hard to live a healthy life in Tren­ton.

As com­mu­nity lead­ers, our goal is to build a bright fu­ture by ed­u­cat­ing, em­pow­er­ing and cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for our res­i­dents to live longer, healthy and pro­duc­tive lives. The Tren­ton Healthy Team part­ner­ship re­cently was se­lected to par­tic­i­pate in a na­tion­wide BUILD Health Chal­lenge, which will fund our ef­forts to im­prove com­mu­nity en­vi­ron­ments and ul­ti­mately achieve pos­i­tive health out­comes. Specif­i­cally, we will fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing a “Safe & Healthy Cor­ri­dor” within the North Ward sec­tion of Brunswick Av­enue, from the Tren­ton Bat­tle Mon­u­ment Park to Cap­i­tal Health Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

Over time, we will trans­form lit­tered and va­cant ar­eas, aban­doned build­ings, and ne­glected streets and side­walks into safe, liv­able, and walk­a­ble spa­ces that offer healthy re­sources for res­i­dents, visi­tors and em­ploy­ees. Clean­ing and green­ing va­cant lots, es­tab­lish­ing com­mu­nity gar­dens, cre­at­ing soc­cer fields, and im­prov­ing streetscapes are all part of the mas­ter plan.

More im­por­tantly, the pro­posed com­mu­nity im­prove­ments are de­signed to en­cour­age healthy life­style choices that re­duce obe­sity and the bur­den of chronic dis­ease.

Work­ing to­gether with Cap­i­tal Health, St. Fran­cis Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Henry J. Austin Health Cen­ter, the Tren­ton Health & Hu­man Ser­vices Depart­ment, and var­i­ous other com­mu­nity part­ners, we will iden­tify and im­ple­ment in­no­va­tive com­mu­nity so­lu­tions.

While this may be a small step, it is a step in the right di­rec­tion that can lead to pos­i­tive health out­comes for our res­i­dents, and serve as a model for fur­ther trans­for­ma­tion within our city.

— Gre­gory Paul­son is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Tren­ton Health Team

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