A safe community means a more healthy community, Flint wellness advocates say.
The Crim Fitness Foundation’s Safe & Active Genesee for Everyone (SAGE) coalition works to promote neighborhoods that encourage physical movement. The collaboration that began in 2007 combines support from 25 community organizations, block associations, small businesses, medical, transportation and academic agencies working to improve outdoor settings.
The Crim’s Active Communities department leads SAGE’s efforts toward easing traffic, reducing blight, monitoring school routes and other factors that impact physical movement throughout the city. Theresa Roach, program manager for Active Communities, says the coalition’s work will continue expanding as spring approaches.
“It’s all well and good to tell people to go out and get active, but you have to look at policies in the neighborhood,” says Roach.
Examining issues that include everything from bike access to crime and street harassment is SAGE’s role.
“Those are the kinds of things people look at in our program,” Roach says.
SAGE is one of five primary initiatives within the Crim’s Active Communities department, which also addresses North Flint health and safety issues, and offers technical assistance to Flint residents seeking recreation and related health benefits.
In addition to their work within SAGE’s overall plan coalition members have developed supporting programs, adds Roach.
“It’s really a mix, but all of the agencies are very focused on improving the community’s accessibility and improving people’s ability to walk, bike, use trails, and feel safe in the neighborhoods,” she says.
“Neighbors Changing Flint” is a series of neighborhood improvement workshops hosted by collaborators including the Crim Fitness Foundation, Neighborhood Engagement Hub, Ruth Mott Foundation, Applewood, Flint Neighborhoods United, City of Flint, Land Bank of Genesee County, and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. The groups host public programs and presentations about neighborhood design and similar topics at 5 p.m. every Wednesday at Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village.
The popular series has two final sessions remaining and include a March 20 event focused on promoting health through neighborhood design and March 27 event focused on planning for long term change.
“Residents share their stories,” Roach says. “Experts share their technical expertise.”
A new focus SAGE plans to explore is racial and cultural bias that impacts segments of Flint and other neighborhoods in major cities. Nationally publicized police reports against black citizens who weren’t committing crimes, but were labeled suspicious by other citizens influenced the program’s focus, Roach says.
“I’m a young, black woman who’s not straight, so that’s the lens I bring to my life: Is this fair for everyone?” Roach adds.
The Crim is seeking a partner to help create programming designed to remove cultural bias and racial profiling as barriers to neighborhood health.
“We believe that people being healthy leads to greater opportunities in their lives,” says Roach.
SAGE meetings are held at 1 p.m. at the Crim Fitness Foundation, 452 South Saginaw St., every third Friday. To view an events calendar, or for more information, visit www.crim.org.