Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Community Center. Photo: Supplied.
By: Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Advisory Board Chairman Joseph Coello Sr., Committee Member Unella Rhône-Perry and Committee Member Von Joseph

For generations we have wanted a place in our community where we had access to the resources and amenities that are all too common on the Upper East Side but rarely expected in the heart of Black/Brown Brooklyn.

Later this month, we will finally have that in the Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Community Center. But what truly makes this special for the Crown Heights community is that it is designed with us in mind and for our neighbors of all income levels.

After years of talk, this beacon of dreams and opportunity is finally here.

The recent tantrum politics have grabbed headlines, but for those of us who have been holding the developer accountable at every stage, we know the truth. This was a hard-fought effort, but in partnership with the City EDC, BFC Partners and ourselves, Crown Heights children and their families will be able to enjoy the thrills of swimming, basketball, soccer, yoga, archery, dance and so much more in a state-of-the-art facility right down the block.

As New York City’s first Health & Wellness Community, this Center will offer sports and academic classes for children as well as being the home to many familiar  nonprofits. There will be live performances in The Betty Carter Auditorium for the Arts, and cultural events and functions.

The wellness center will be available for as little as $8 a month for children and $10 per month for seniors and low-income adults below the income poverty level.

Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Community Center. Photo: Supplied.

We must be clear – this is not a basketball hoop in the corner of a hall. The Health and Wellness Center is bringing top-quality experiences to our Crown Heights community where we have long needed and wished them to be. Visitors will have access to: The following experiences will be available:

  • Swimming lessons at an 80% discount, scholarships, 9,000 discounted swim lessons (at $10 versus $50 per class) per year to Community Board 9 residents and at least two hours of open/family swim hours every day for discounted membership participants.
  • Fundamental basketball skill development training and college prep support for the College Bound enrolled student athletes, which is free for participants as well as clinics and leagues that combine life skills with fundamental basketball skill development for youth in the community for free or low cost to participants and open to all.
  • Discounted facility rentals ($65 versus $200 per hour) for organizations to run their existing programs and discounted soccer clinics and lessons (at $10 versus $50 per hour) to Community Board 9 residents.
  • Discounted rates and free programming for health and wellness classes, including Vinyasa yoga, power yoga, meditation, mindfulness, martial arts and group fitness classes for every member of a family. Typical class cost is $20 per session. Discounted rates range from $10 to $15 per session.

To ensure this isn’t a vanity effort to transplant programming and organizations designed for Manhattan to Brooklyn, we have worked to make this a highlight for our community.

BFC Partners offered leases for the 35,000 square feet of office space to key local groups at $6 a square foot, when the usual price is $26 to $33. This means that legendary nonprofit community-based organizations like Ifetayo,  Center Shot Archery, West Indian American Day Carnival Parade Organizers, Digital Girl, Inc. and the Brooklyn Pride Center – the only borough currently without a home for its LGBTQ center – now have permanent homes where they can continue their cultural awareness, supportive outreach and community efforts without fears of being priced out.

These commitments are just the tip of the iceberg in how we have designed this project to represent us, and it inspires such excitement and confidence that the Major R Owens Health and Wellness Center is truly community driven.

This neighborhood has changed more than we can say over the years. Many of us remember Congressman Major Owens fighting for our rights back when no one wanted to live here.

In appreciation of those fighters we have memorialized Major Owens and Carey Gabay and some of Brooklyn’s greatest visionaries including Jackie Robinson, Hon.Shirley Chisholm, Rev.Clarence Norman, Rabbi Schneerson, and Dr. Susan B. McKinney.  

Today, this community is growing rapidly with new people moving in regularly. But at this center, Hon. Major Owens’ legacy continues on through us, our kids, and grandchildren who will know they have a place to play and grow safely and we couldn’t be more proud than to be part of the efforts to deliver this jewel to the Crown Heights community. 

Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Community Center advisory board. Photo: Supplied.

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