This post was written by Rachel Ingram, Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Manager at Bronx Health REACH.
On Sunday, September 15th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the middle lanes of the Grand Concourse from 162nd to 170th Street were closed to cars and open to a world of fun and free music, dance, fitness, art, fresh food samplings and more! Boogie on the Boulevard “Boogie,” a NYC Department of Transportation Weekend Walks program, is a one-of-a-kind community event that reimagines the streets as a public space where the many diverse cultures represented in the Bronx can be active and celebrate.
This year at Boogie, nearly 5,000 Bronx residents enjoyed a one-mile stretch of interactive healthy living activities based on themes such as Arts, #Not 62, Fresh and Healthy Eating, Back to School, Fitness and Wellness, Dance, Active Transportation, Baby Oasis, and Street Games. “Every year we get together as community residents, local community-based organizations, healthcare partners, transportation advocates, and we celebrate who we are as the Bronx,” said Bronx Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, a long-time supporter of Boogie on the Boulevard. “We recognize health and wellness and achieving a healthier, brighter, and stronger borough.”
Participants engaged in fitness and wellness activities such as Hoola Hoop classes, Zumba dancing, Kickboxing, Hip Hop Fitness, and various obstacle courses. Over seventy Bronx Runners showed up to participate in a 5K timed run along the Grand Concourse. To celebrate, runners received refreshments and sunglasses with the “Boogie” logo on them. Tai Chi, guided meditation, medical massages, and yoga for adults and kids were available to those looking for a mind and body experience.
Local food vendors and organizations prepared fresh and healthy snacks and gave out samples like hummus with pita bread, shredded carrot salad, apples with sunflower butter, lightly sweetened chocolate covered nuts made by Sustainable Snacks and other goodies for participants to taste on the Fresh Food Block. The “Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh” Games Challenge, hosted by the Institute for Family Health’s Bronx Health REACH, provided a fun way to highlight all of the healthy options that are offered at partner Bronx bodegas participating in the Healthy Bodega program. Participants refreshed themselves with fruit infused water- the perfect alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
On the Arts Block, families took part in the creative process together. Community artists worked with community members to guide them through various arts and crafts projects like button making, card making, live painting, printmaking, and ceramics. At one point during the day, a large audience gathered around some of the local artists as they took part in painting live action pictures of Boogie on the Boulevard. Participants walked away with beautiful sand-art necklaces, drawings, paintings, and handmade cards.
People-powered vehicles was the theme of the Active Transportation Block. Participants learned how to roller skate, skateboard, and enjoyed free bike rides. Many, and took advantage of free bike parking and bike repairs. The big hit of the day were the adaptive bicycles used for mobility, therapy, and recreation. Everyone loved learning about the freedom that these bikes provide for individuals who otherwise would not be able to ride. They liked trying them out too!
The Boogie Down block featured Bronx-based music and performances, salsa dancing, hip-hop, and music creation workshops for participants to dance and get moving. There was also silent disco for those thatwho wanted to “boogie” in a unique way! A regular at previous Boogie on the Boulevard events- BombaYo- engaged community members in drum circles to raise awareness of Afro Puerto Rican culture and to connect Bomba to the vast traditions of the African Diaspora.
There were no shortage of activities for folks with infants and children! Those with babies visited the Baby Oasis Block for all their parenting needs including breast-feeding tents, parent resources, and for some, mommy and me yoga. The big kids got to enjoy face painting, balloon making, a bouncy house, Euro Bungee jumping, obstacles courses, back to school giveaways, and streets games galore!
For the civic-minded Bronxites, the #Not62 Block showcased efforts to lift up the Bronx from its ranking as the least healthy county in all of New York State. On this block, people were involved in activities for the whole self - social, emotional, psychological, and physical. They also had the opportunity to help improve the health of the Bronx by signing up to join the #Not62 campaign.
Undoubtedly, Boogie on the Boulevard was a huge success! As one participant said, “This is a great event to get families and kids out, to get them active in arts, nutrition, the culture of the Bronx and being from the Bronx.” The 2019 Boogie on the Boulevard was made possible by NYC Department of Transportation Weekend Walks program and the Boogie on the Boulevard -Steering Committee comprised of the Institute for Family Health/Bronx Health REACH, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, BronxWorks, Montefiore Medical Center, and Uptown Boogie & Bicycle Advocacy in partnership with a volunteer committee of Bronx residents. Thank you to our sponsors Amida Care, SBH Health System, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx Museum, the Institute for Family Health/Bronx Health REACH, Health First, New Settlement Apartments, and Union Community Health Center.