Building equity in New Brunswick
Like in many urban areas, New Brunswick is challenged by health disparities related to vulnerable population groups. Issues such as childhood obesity, diabetes and hypertension are prevalent.
Advancing equity and building a community of health—where all people in the community feel empowered to achieve the highest level of health—is the central focus of New Brunswick Ciclovia.
Launched in 2013 as a collaborative partnership by Johnson & Johnson, the City of New Brunswick, New Brunswick Tomorrow and Rutgers University, the initiative mobilizes community members to embrace active living and promotes social interaction and community engagement. During Ciclovia, streets become car-free for five hours for people to run, walk, skate, ride bikes, enjoy active events along the route and explore the city’s vitality, livability and diversity in a safe way.
“Our Ciclovia focuses on bridging the disparities in our vulnerable communities,” says Jaymie Santiago, Vice President of New Brunswick Tomorrow, the entity that hosts the event working with a diverse array of local organizations, from private hospitals to small community groups. “Ciclovia attempts to connect all our communities, from the neighborhoods to the downtown municipal district to the commercial corridors to Rutgers University, to shape the discussion of how we think about health disparities and the resources available in this community.”
Over 4,000 people participated in the first Ciclovia, which launched with 15 partners. In 2014, Ciclovia was expanded to deliver three programs each year. The Spring 2015 Ciclovia brought over 8,000 people into the streets of New Brunswick. More than 35 community partnerships were represented on the actual route, connecting people to different resources.
“With each Ciclovia we are seeing more partners and stakeholders thinking about themselves more as health partners and less as service providers,” says Santiago. “That has been Ciclovia’s biggest success.”