New initiative to bring health and sense of community to Northside

By Michelle Costanza

March 8, 2013 Updated Mar 8, 2013 at 12:54 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Binghamton's Northside is launching a new initiative with hopes of improving the look and health of the neighborhood.

The Northside Neighborhood Assembly held it's monthly meeting Thursday night to mine residents' ideas and announce upcoming plans.

A grant was awarded to the community through United Way for a new program called the Healthy Lifestyles Coalition.

The coalition was developed to work with children of the Roosevelt Elementary School to teach them and their parents about healthy choices.

The Lee Barta Community Center will also be opening in the next few months, offering programs to address childhood obesity, exercising and cooking. Those programs will teach children about healthy eating, where their food comes from and provide parent support groups.

Fresh Cycles -- a returning program -- will provide children with bicycles and helmets. Supporters of Fresh Cycles say the program teaches kids responsibility, how to repair their bike and provides a healthy form of exercise and transportation.

As the healthy initiatives are pushed into full swing, the Assembly said the most important factor for success of the programs is the community.

"Residents will make it or break it. We are asking for volunteers for many of our events. To help coordinate, to give ideas for events, we need locations, it really depends on the community and our neighbors and we hope that everyone will be willing to lend a hand to make this side of town a better place for everyone," said Northside Neighborhood Assembly Coordinator Janet McHenry.

A community planting day is also on the list of things to do. The Coalition hopes to donate flower bulbs and planting supplies to put the streets in bloom.

"People will get out and talk to their neighbors, get them on board, plant 50 or so flowers on their block," suggested Amelia LoDolce, of United Way.

United Way will be working with more than 20 organizations for the betterment of the Northside, and residents say meeting neighbors would bring more involvement and community to their side of the city.

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