A Bronx Success Story
Life in the South Bronx is noisy. Screaming sirens, screeching trains, and insistent honking merge with the everyday sounds of lively street music and chatty vendors in this culturally rich, low-income neighborhood. Amid the commotion is a friendly oasis – Urban Health Plan (UHP), a community health center that has provided care for over 30 years. Some say miracles happen there. For Hilda Colón, learning how to improve her health just might be one of those milagros.
A year ago, Hilda, who had type 2 diabetes, arthritis and high cholesterol, was taking insulin to control her diabetes and three pills a day to manage other health conditions. She was a dependable volunteer at UHP, but otherwise wasn’t interested in leaving her house.
All that has changed. Today, the young people Hilda meets at UHP call her “electric.” They want to know where she gets her energy. The answer, she explains, is the Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program (CRI LEP) that she experienced at UHP.
A healthy new start
Based on the program perfected for more than 20 years at the Life Enhancement Center® at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, the CRI LEP at UHP uses the integrative health approach to improve the lives of people living in economically disadvantaged areas.
Hilda learned from her UHP nutritionist to eat small portions of food throughout the day. She also discovered the joy of regular exercise. Hilda has never been to Canyon Ranch, but her nutritionist experienced the program’s “train the trainer” curriculum, and her exercise instructor followed the lesson plans in the CRI LEP Facilitator Manual. In this way, Canyon Ranch is being “exported” to help people who could never afford to come to Canyon Ranch.
Hilda says the program changed her life “100 percent,” and she has lost 25 pounds. Her doctor (who trained at Canyon Ranch through support from CRI) told her she could stop using insulin – because her diabetes is now under control. She exercises at UHP’s Centro de Salud y Bienestar (Health & Wellness Center) designed by Canyon Ranch and CRI. She also enjoys specialty classes UHP offers, such as belly dancing. And now when she volunteers at UHP, people just love to be with her. She feels the same way about them.
A lot of people come up to me and are interested in the program,” says Hilda.
“I tell them that, yes, it is worth the effort. It changes you totally, your whole person, physically and spiritually.”
Spreading the word
More than 100 people have experienced the CRI LEP in the South Bronx, and hundreds more are on the waiting list. CRI is seeking ongoing support so that more people can feel the joy that comes with having hope for the future. People say that Hilda is a great inspiration. “We support each other because we all have something to work on,” says Hilda. “And you know, you have to keep going!”
For information about CRI LEP and other Canyon Ranch Institute programs, please visit canyonranchinstitute.org