Is Troy the Capital Region’s weakest link? Depends on how you look at it.
Channel 6News, WRGB Albany ran a story last week with some difficult-to-hear Troy statistics. Troy’s kids aren’t doing well compared to other children in the region and in some cases throughout the state. The report looks at nutrition, fitness and safety.
The Good News This report was particularly hard to reconcile with the abundant economic development good news coming from Rensselaer County. Top developers near and far have focused on beautiful historic buildings turning them into over 2,000 brand new market rate apartments within the last few years. As a result, a different crop of people have been moving to the city in droves.
The area demographics shows the largest share of smart people – those with a college education. It’s no surprise given that there are over 18,000 students enrolled at RPI, Russell Sage and HVCC colleges in Troy. This talent is fueling our highly successful businesses many of whom are in engineering, architecture, software development, cybersecurity, data centers, video gaming, healthcare and bioscience. International renown companies like Regeneron, Warner Brothers, Velan Studios, AMRI and WSP Global often make front page news with their innovations.
Troy is also highly diverse, with a blend of ethnicities, gender identities, and cultures. This mash up of people in a connected-community has generated creativity in the arts, food, music and film. In fact, Troy has been home to the region’s Art Center, Capital Roots - urban grow center, Tech Center of Gravity makerspace and its nationally recognized Troy Farmers Market.
Where is Troy falling short?
According to the news report, “life expectancy is almost 2 full years less than the rest of the state.” In areas of Troy, especially in points north and south of the downtown area, the violent crime rate is “twice more than the national average. According to Healthy Capital District, in Rensselaer County, fitness opportunities are 20% lower than the state average.” It is no wonder that “36% of elementary students and 37% of middle and high school students are overweight or obese.” The mental, physical and emotional well-being of our youth is abysmal.
There are strong Troy community and family support agencies that are working hard to reverse these trends, places like: Unity House, C.E.O., T.R.I.P. and Joseph’s House to name just a few. One organization often overlooked that directly addresses these statistics is the Troy and Greenbush YMCAs. While most of us know the Y for its “gym and swim” activities, it is so much more. Their programs appeal to all socio-economic levels, youth, families and individuals. They enrich the mind, body and soul of their communities. The sports and exercise activities, after school programs, summer camps, field trips, and S.T.E.M., ESL language, among other classes, keep kids off the streets, build teamwork and enhance individuals’ skills.
The YMCA not only nourishes the mind and body, it also directly feeds those in need. It’s Basket Brigade food drive established in 2016 is a Thanksgiving annual event. This year’s goal is to collect turkeys, canned and other goods (and cash donations) to feed at least 1,500 families. The second annual unique event called the Teal Pumpkin Party -- the region's only free, allergy-friendly Halloween celebration took place this weekend.
The YMCA is ideally suited to make a huge dent in these negative statistics; yet, they are hampered due to lack of funds and aging infrastructures. In fact, many of their most popular swim and gym programs have been postponed due to building repairs or reduced in hours because of staff shortages.
As the expression goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” While the people of Troy are often diehard loyalists, with big hearts and proud of their community, the “village” extends far beyond the zip code. To ensure our entire Capital region thrives, Troy’s kids can’t be the weakest link. With the help of all people and companies in the region, the children of Troy may well become the area’s greatest triumph.
Please donate to the Troy YMCA here: https://cdymca.org/infamilyadvisory