Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Spiritually Sound – Physically Fit

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

November 15, 2007


Capital Region






Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in New York, taking the lives of nearly 60,000 residents each year. Blacks, in particular, are more likely to die prematurely than whites: they are 30% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease; 25% more likely to die from cerebrovascular disease; 19% more likely to die from congestive heart failure; and 48% more likely to die from a stroke. A recent Schenectady County health assessment found that mortality rates for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases are above average in New York. In particular, the Schenectady County Public Health Services found that hospitalization rates related to heart disease and diabetes were different for blacks depending on where they lived: residents in the lowest-income zip code had higher hospitalization rates than those living in the highest-income zip code. To address these disparities, NYHealth awarded the Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SICM) a grant to implement the Spiritually Sound – Physically Fit (SSPF) program in four predominantly black congregations and one drop-in HIV/AIDS center, all of which were located in the lowest-income zip code.

Spiritually Sound – Physically Fit 2 is a broad collaboration continuing a multi-faceted approach to address health problems among minorities throughout inner-city Schenectady. Spiritually Sound – Physically Fit 2 is a unique model for improving the physical health of individuals at higher-than-average risk of chronic diseases that provides a culturally supportive environment for individuals to be educated, encouraged, and supported to begin and continue healthier lifestyles. The project included: a structured exercise and nutrition program for participants at the four sites; heart-healthy community meals served at the drop-in center; and a heart-healthy emphasis in the four churches for all church functions offering food and beverage. In year one, the program targeted 85 individuals who retained their healthier practices in year two when another 85 individuals were targeted for the intervention.