by Enid Zuckerman, Canyon Ranch Co-Founder
Autumn has arrived, but I’m still glowing from a remarkable summer. I hope yours was wonderful too. Did you visit us at the Ranch? Go somewhere exotic? Mel and I spent a couple of months in Lenox, and it was as beautiful and special as ever. We also took one excursion I’ll never forget – to the South Bronx, of all places.
Mel and I went there to visit the Urban Health Plan (UHP) community health center, which is working with our non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute® to offer healthy living education and experiences based on Canyon Ranch principles. UHP provides affordable, quality care to more than 40,000 low-income people, and it was the first place to offer the Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program.® Even as I write this, I am overwhelmed to think that this incredible opportunity is available to so many people who could never come to Canyon Ranch but can now experience the essence of it in significant, life-enhancing ways.
You may already know that Mel and I built our first Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson more than 30 years ago, because we made the decision to live in an all-healthy environment. Back then we had to create it, because it didn’t exist! By the mid-1980s, we realized that the all-inclusive experience we were offering – with the medical and wellness staff, dining, accommodations and amenities – would never be affordable for most people. We wanted to do something about that, so we started offering scholarships to the Ranch and thinking about what else we could do for those who are less fortunate. We are always guided by our vision to encourage as many people as possible to choose healthy living.
Urban Health Plan was the perfect place to start a program that includes the intrinsic educational experiences and inspiration that guests get at the Ranch. We started by having 10 health professionals from UHP participate in the Life Enhancement Program in Tucson. They were inspired and wanted to replicate the experience for their patients. With our Canyon Ranch Institute team, they adapted the program for cultural differences and prepared materials in English, and in Spanish for their largely Hispanic immigrant population. The main difference from the resort experience is that people come to UHP twice a week for classes, exercise and the learning opportunities. Participants have access to the Health & Wellness Center that we helped UHP design and build, which includes state-of-the-art exercise equipment and quiet spaces for meditation, yoga and simple relaxation. So far nearly 100 men and women have participated in the six-week program, and more than 300 people are on a waiting list.
During our visit, Mel and I met many enthusiastic folks who said that this program had greatly improved their health and well-being. They are making healthy food choices, exercising, managing stress, reducing their need for many medications, and feeling a new sense of optimism. Plus, they’re sharing their enthusiasm with family and friends – good health can be contagious!
We are happy to see our Life Enhancement Program thriving in a neighborhood where it’s so needed and appreciated. It’s also spreading to other places across the country. It’s great to feel that we’re making a difference for people in low-income communities.
To everyone’s good health!