From left: Matt Fishman, of Partners; Wanda McClain; Maisha Douyon Cover, director of Health Equity Programs at BWH; Toni Wiley, of Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center; State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry; and Paul Ridker

On June 9, the Brigham and Women’s Center for Community Wellness, Dorchester, opened its doors at the Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center at 950 Blue Hill Ave. in Dorchester.

The center’s goal is to make wellness programs available to the community, helping to improve nutrition and promote cardiovascular and overall health. Wellness programs and a fitness center will be free for all residents of Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury. The Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center has been providing academic and social programs for the youth and families of Boston’s most underserved neighborhoods since 2008.

At the center’s open house, BWH’s Paul Ridker, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at BWH and vice-chair of the Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center, and Wanda McClain, vice president of Community Health and Health Equity, spoke about BWH’s commitment to community health and the importance of this new health resource. Local and state officials, including Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito; Sportsmen’s Executive Director Toni Wiley; and others also attended the event.

“To be successful, prevention of heart disease, stroke and diabetes must start in community settings,” said Ridker. “Prevention has to be done where people live, play and work. We are delighted to be partnering with Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center in Dorchester to bring exercise and wellness opportunities to our neighbors.”

The vision for the center has been several years in the making. Funding and building of the space were made possible with the support of friends in the community, including AstraZeneca, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Amelia Peabody Charitable Trust, Mabel Louise Riley Foundation, Partners HealthCare, the U.S. Tennis Association New England and others. Classroom furniture, seating and computer stations were donated by Red Thread of Boston. Other groups, including BWH’s own Materials Management, also donated supplies to the center.

In addition to resources for weight management, diabetes control and smoking cessation, the center will also offer health screenings and regular exercise classes. Health professionals will provide services and information through forums, discussions, classes and hands-on demonstrations about cardiovascular wellness, diet and exercise. Wellness events and health services, run by a registered nurse, will soon begin and will be integrated with fitness activities. The center will also host free adult basic education (GED) courses, as well as financial literacy and home ownership workshops.

The Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center programs include tennis instruction and recreational play for youth of all levels from kindergarten through grade 12, as well as college readiness programs, social development programs and Volley against Violence—a partnership with the Boston Police Department that brings youth together for free tennis, life skills and mentoring.

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