Playground Refresh Creates Healthy Environment for At-Risk Youth in Richmond, VA

The American Heart Association in Richmond recently teamed up with Bank of America and United Way to restore old and install new playground equipment in Mosby Court, one of four public housing communities in Richmond’s East End.  The project also includes the installation of an early learning path.  New playground equipment and the early learning path will increase opportunities for children of all ages to be active within the space.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 1st, Ralph Stuckey, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) resident services manager, said “Out of 14 years of being with RRHA, this is the most kids that I have seen on the playground at once.”

Alante Cannon, community health worker, receives a CPR training kit.

AHA staff also worked with the Virginia Department of Health’s Tobacco Control Program to display a tobacco free sign at the playground and provided a Hands-Only CPR training kit to community health workers with Richmond City Health District to train public housing residents in this lifesaving skill.  In the City of Richmond, African Americans have twice as many cardiac arrests compared to whites and are also less likely to receive bystander CPR.

Mosby Court is a public housing community located within the East End of Richmond and is one of the most vulnerable communities within the greater Richmond area.  The population at Mosby is 89 percent black and is a high-poverty community with a median household income of $20,271.   About 42 percent of the population 25 years of age and older at Mosby does not have a high school degree (or equivalent).  Data also suggests that African Americans living in the East End show greater risk of developing several preventable diseases, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and higher rates of obesity and smoking.

Prior to the recent opening of a full-service grocery store, the Mosby community had poor to no access to healthy food.  Provided that 44 percent of Mosby Court’s population is children, the playground refresh and early learning literacy trail will impact almost half of the residents by creating an environmental change that encourages physical activity and education in a community that has higher health risks.

The American Heart Association’s community impact director, Tierra Howard, said, “We are committed to cultivating a sustainable relationship within this neighborhood.  Along with the residents and community partners, I am excited to see all that we can accomplish together to create longer, healthier lives.”

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