Building healthier communities in KC’s Historic Northeast

Where people live, work and play significantly impacts their overall health. Communities are able to thrive when they have access to healthy environments, and Mattie Rhodes Center is pleased to assist in this effort through their “Health and Wellness Program” supported by Health Forward Foundation.

Mattie Rhodes Center (MRC) is excited to announce that this program has seen tremendous growth in the past six months due to the addition of a new community engagement specialist. The agency has been able to better connect with the 20,000 residents of the Historic Northeast community and build on new and ongoing community partnerships.

The Northeast News has become a valuable partner and asset for spreading the word about the health and wellness programming occurring at MRC’s Northeast Building on 148 N. Topping in Kansas City, MO.

The newspaper spotlights weekly fitness and cooking classes, after-school youth development programming, and recreational sports readily available to family members and friends.

One highlighted program that has shown continued success is Mattie Rhodes’ “Soccer for Success.” Through this innovative and evidence-based curriculum, more than 500 Northeast middle and high school students are engaged in after-school soccer programming. To date, 65 percent of soccer participants have reduced their BMI to a healthier level, and 68 percent of participants have increased their endurance skills! Overall, this program provides a healthy outlet for youth to learn about fitness and nutrition through tailored mentorship and activities.

Another successful component of Mattie Rhodes’ “Health and Wellness Program” has been the addition of bilingual cooking classes in partnership with the University of Missouri Extension. The cooking classes came to fruition after MRC was granted the Healthy Communities grant in 2016 to continue nurturing Jubilee Garden, the agency’s local community garden.

Jubiliee Garden

The Jubilee Garden and nutrition cooking classes are provided to local neighbors that live in close proximity to Mattie Rhodes Northeast Building and the Indian Mound neighborhood. Community residents rent out plots for a small, annual fee to grow for themselves, all while creating a sense of community and revitalization. The garden allows direct access to fresh produce and the cooking class complements use of produce in a nutritious way.

Furthermore, the Community Garden Coordinator funded by Health Forward cultivates the plots daily and all produce that is grown during the season is donated to MRC participants at no cost to the individual or family. Currently the Jubilee Garden is sprouting kale, lettuce, peppers, zucchini, and squash!

Another crucial aspect of Mattie Rhodes’ Health and Wellness Program has been Fit Club. This class combines elements from a variety of exercises, including resistance training, plyometric, and high intensity interval training (HIIT). Classes are typically designed in circuits that involve short bouts of exercise followed by short rest periods.

Throughout the year, one family became particularly fond of Fit Club and became regulars in the program. Over the span of their attendance, subtle adaptations from exercises were observed in the participants such as an increase in power output and visibly better posture! Not only did the program participants gain physical strength from Fit Club, but knowledge to help them become more independent as they continue to reach their fitness goals.

You can learn more about Mattie Rhodes Center by visiting their website or Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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Health Forward Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact Health Forward Communications Officer Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006