It should come as no surprise that almost half of New York City kids are overweight. What's causing the childhood obesity epidemic? Aside from the standard textbook explanations, the lack of playgrounds in the city is definitely a contributing factor. But thanks to a recent grant from the New York Community Trust, playgrounds are beginning to spring up in low-income neighborhoods throughout the city. (See New York Community Trust: Grants for New York City).
The New York Community Trust (NYCT) awarded a $50,000 to Out2Play, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming vacant lots into playgrounds and keeping New York's children healthy. The NYCT grant money being used to refurbish five low-income elementary school playgrounds in New York, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Jamaica, and Bronx. Since children in these neighborhoods essentially have no access to outdoor play spaces, these refurbished playgrounds will provide their only safe and convenient means for physical activity. Out2Play has already transformed 150 vacant lots into playgrounds, and they plan to transform yet another forty this year.
NYCT's Out2Play grant is part of a larger national trend of getting kids outdoors, active, and healthy. Fortunately for today's youth, organizations like Out2Play have been getting lots of attention from major philanthropic foundations in cities around the country. Take Chicago, for example. One of the city's most prominent giving machines, the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, recently awarded a $5 million grant to the Chicago Park District's "Take the Field" initiative, which builds new athletic fields in city parks. Foundations like Pritzker Traubert and NYCT seem to realize that remedying the childhood obesity epidemic cannot rest squarely on the shoulders of parents and teachers. We can only hope that these foundations' grant dollars influence these children live healthier and more productive lives.
If your nonprofit is looking to jump in the fight against childhood obesity, NYCT can help you get in the ring. Programs to help kids get active fall under NYCT’s "Health and People with Special Needs" focus area. (Read NYCT health program director, Len McNally's IP profile). Given the tremendous amount of media attention that childhood obesity is getting these days, now is the time to pitch your program. Grant applications, which are reviewed by the board five times per year, need to be snail-mailed to Mary Gentile at NYCT. After reviewing the Grantmaking Guidelines, you should direct questions about the application process to Mary at (212) 686-0010, x554.