As we enter this introspective time of remembrance for all that was lost and all that was forever changed during this storm, nonprofits across the Gulf Coast are using the tenth anniversary of Katrina as an opportunity to raise awareness for their causes and remind their supporters of all that is left to be done.
This is especially true for FitLot, a New Orleans nonprofit dedicated to turning blighted areas into connected fitness parks in the neighborhoods that need them the most. FitLot is currently running a campaign on CommitChange to raise funds for a fitness park along the Lafitte Greenway in the historic Treme. All contributions will go directly to the purchase of materials for this project.
"There's no reason why we don't have these parks in New Orleans, and FitLot is making it a priority to make them available," FitLot founder Adam Mejerson said.
As the FitLot website states, "vacant lots and underutilized urban space are risks to public health that invite crime, diminish the real estate values of surrounding properties and discourage community progress and development."
With support from partners and advocates including Tulane University and Karen DeSalvo, current Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and former Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans, the team at FitLot is optimistic that successes locally will lead to a larger national conversation of how to help residents in blighted and impoverished neighborhoods improve both their health and the quality of their public spaces.
Karen DeSalvo said that she is "pleased to support the efforts of FitLot because their goals directly support our mission of fostering an optimum health-related quality of life for those that live, learn, work, and play in New Orleans."
Hard numbers support the increase in quality of life for residents where blighted areas are turned into parks and for the health benefits of creating fitness parks where residents can make use of a variety of health equipment. In a recent study by The Trust for Public Land, From Fitness Zones to the Medical Mile, a number of case studies are given in which transforming public land in these ways directly increased the health and well-being of some of the United State's largest urban areas, including Baltimore and San Francisco.
Adam's vision is that this will be the first of hundreds of fitlots dotting country, replacing blighted trouble spots with beautiful parks for area residents to get fit and unwind.
To find out more about FitLot, please visit their website. You can support their current campaign here.