Article10 Correbrand2

Local health advocate Munir Bahar. (AFRO/photo by Roberto Alejandro)

In addition to widespread food deserts, Baltimore City is pockmarked with what local health advocate Munir Bahar calls health deserts, areas of the city with no access to places to engage in physical activities—places with no gyms, no bike lanes, and no recreation centers.

To better address these health deserts, Bahar, who is also an entrepreneurial consultant, has rebranded his COR Community fitness program to streamline his message of the importance of fitness and regular physical activity to preventative healthcare.

“We’re spending $2.8 trillion per year,” said Bahar about America’s healthcare spending in a conversation with the AFRO. “Most of that money – 96 percent – is being spent after people get sick. So we’re saying . . . that we have to put more effort in prevention. So we rebranded ourselves to be more in line with what the national movement is in the health world.”

The rebranding simplifies COR’s basic message: they are health advocates who provide 60 minutes of physical activity per day for children (in line with national recommendations). It also puts COR’s advocacy of better and preventative health in the foreground.

“We’re taking a much bigger mission and not just simply being focused on the kids that we’re working with, but the whole healthcare system as a country, or in the nation, is something that we’re attacking. So we’re not only providing program, we’re also doing some advocacy work, advocating for more money being spent in prevention than money being spent in treatment,” said Bahar, who was recognized earlier this year by the White House with a 2014 Community Leadership Award from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Bahar notes that while you often hear of food deserts, many of Baltimore’s neighborhoods suffer from a lack of health infrastructure that goes well beyond food.

“We take it further,” says Bahar. “We say ‘health deserts’ because not only do we have to look for access to food, but we have to look for access to activities that promote physical activities and fitness. And we have communities that don’t have any of that.”

ralejandro@afro.com