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May 2nd: Down By the Riverside Community Health Walk


 “Down By the Riverside” Community Health Walk: Strong Parks, Strong Communities

Neighbors, community members, and local organizations “look to the parks” for a healthier, greener future

 Washington, DC: Washington Parks & People, the Institute for Public Health Innovation, and other partners will be joining with neighbors and community leaders on Saturday, May 2nd, to celebrate 14 years of community health and empowerment through the transformation of Marvin Gaye Park. Our Community Health Walk will begin at 9:30AM, at the Marvin Gaye Recreation Center (6201 Banks Place NE). The walk is scheduled to conclude at around noon, on the banks of the Anacostia River, in Kenilworth Park.

“Marvin Gaye Park has become an international model of what is possible when our community comes together to revitalize our green spaces as engines for jobs, health, and recreation,” says Steve Coleman, Executive Director of Washington Parks & People. “We hope that walking through the restored space of Marvin Gaye into Kenilworth Park will give us inspiration for how we can continue this journey of green growth and community empowerment.”

Michael E. Rhein, President and CEO of the Institute for Public Health Innovation says, “What’s happening in and around Marvin Gaye and Kenilworth Parks is truly inspiring.  Ward 7 residents know what their communities need, and by connecting families, friends, and neighbors, we hope this walk will stimulate ideas for further strengthening the parks and surrounding neighborhoods for years to come.”

Spanning the length of Far Northeast DC, east of the Anacostia River, Marvin Gaye and Kenilworth parks are becoming artery of health and community empowerment in the East of the River region of Washington, DC. Featuring 9 stops along the 3 mile walking route, Parks & People and local community members will be highlighting the vital role of our green spaces and parks to bring about health and prosperity for every part of our city.

This May 2nd, we invite you to join us “down by the riverside,” as we look to the parks for…

Health:  We believe that nature is the best medicine, and we will begin our walk at the Marvin Gaye Recreation Center, emphasizing the health benefits that our park system has to offer. With this in mind, we’ll begin our walk with a public health offering from medical personnel.

Environmental Justice: Through our parks, we are rooted in our land. In our second stop, at 59th/60th sts NE, we will explore how our DC green space can become engines of eco-justice and health for the entire Anacostia River Watershed.

Overcoming Addiction: Being present in our parks gives us freedom to grow and overcome addiction as a community. We will stop at the Marvin Gaye Amphitheatre to consider how we can use our green spaces to break the cycle of addiction and reclaim independence and self-reliance in our neighborhoods.

Workforce Development: Unemployment is a big problem in our city, and with the development of a local green economy, we see a bright future with green jobs for our neighborhood. At the Riverside Healthy Living Center (601 Division Avenue NE), we will highlight the successes of the DC Green Corps program’s 160 graduates, and consider how we can move forward together in the days ahead.

Healthy Food and Agriculture: Many of the neighborhoods along the route of our walk could be classified as “food deserts,” due to their lack of convenient, healthy, and affordable groceries. Where others see only emptiness, we see fresh food and fresh ideas – opportunity for community-based urban agriculture! As we stop at the Marvin Gaye Greening Center, we’ll catch a glimpse of what it will look like for our city to once again become a leader in local farming.

Countering Violence: It is our experience that peace starts in the park. In times of violence, hatred, and confusion, our green spaces can be refuges and places of healing. Our parks function as a sort of city-wide immune system from which we can draw strength to reject the lure of destruction and violence in our neighborhoods. Stopping for a moment of reflection in the Martin Luther King Sanctuary, we’ll consider how we can effectively use the parks to promote peace in our city.

Civic Engagement: Our parks are like a natural metro system that organically connect all the different parts of our city. We believe that our parks are powerful, both in the way that they bring us together for local engagement in our neighborhoods, as well as in the ways that they can become launchpads for connecting across the Washington region to improve health and develop community assets.

Imagining Our Future: The final leg of our journey will take us underneath 295 and into Kenilworth Park, where we will gather on the shore of the Anacostia River. We’ll be looking to the future of our parks and neighborhoods, with the closing theme of sowing seeds for tomorrow.

Everyone is invited to participate and enjoy fun, food, fitness and friends! The walk is a family-friendly event; bikes, strollers, wheelchairs, and roller skates are welcome. For the latest information about the Community Health Walk, visit the Down By the Riverside event site:




Micah Bales

Communications Coordinator

Washington Parks & People

[email protected]

202.462.7275 (ex.15)