project leader
Andrea M
44 West 125th Street, 3rd Floor
Manhattan (Harlem)
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the project

The NYC Prenatal Fitness Initiative wants to pilot a free belly dancing class to make this innovative and effective form of prenatal fitness accessible to low income women in Harlem and other parts of Northern Manhattan and the Bronx. The 12-week workshop will be hosted by Harlem Yoga Studio, which is offering use of its space free of charge. Classes will be held once a week and taught by Nyota Nayo, a highly experienced yoga and dance instructor who has been teaching Egyptian belly dance and prenatal yoga in the Harlem community for years. The NYC Prenatal Fitness Initiative will promote the class through our targeted network of outreach partners, primarily health care providers that serve pregnant women at locations such as Harlem Hospital and New York Presbyterian's community clinics as well as through the Nurse Family Partnership Program. We plan to conduct outreach in English and Spanish, and hope to attract a large number of immigrant women, women of color, and others who have limited access to quality prenatal fitness programming. We are hoping the opportunity to participate in this traditional dance, an ancient form of childbirth preparation, will appeal to a large number of pregnant women and help them enjoy the benefits of prenatal fitness such as a healthier pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery. We also hope that participation in this exciting indoor program during the winter and early spring will inspire many to join in outdoor programming in warmer weather, including walking programs and prenatal water exercise classes at NYC recreation facilities. 

the steps

We will offer donation-based prenatal belly dance classes once a week for 12 weeks during the months of February, March, and April 2012. Classes will be held at Harlem Yoga Studio and will be open to women in all stages of pregnancy. The classes will be promoted through extensive outreach with community health care providers serving pregnant women in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, with a focus on providers that serve low income women, women of color, and immigrants. Although classes will be conducted in English, we will conduct outreach in Spanish as well. Fliers will be shared with staff at community health clinics and other organizations, and the classes will also be promoted by online/email-based listings.  Women will be able to join the class on any of the twelve consecutive Mondays. 

why we're doing it

We have been offering free and discounted access to prenatal yoga and water exercise classes for the past two years in response to a high level of interest in quality, affordable, group fitness activities for pregnant women. Thus far we have only offered two types of classes - prenatal yoga and prenatal water exercise. We have heard repeatedly from community members and our partners that a dance class would be a very popular, innovative way to engage women in prenatal fitness. Belly dance is a traditional form of dance that is grounded in childbirth preparation. We hope that participation in this indoor class during the winter and early spring will inspire women to participate in outdoor activities during warmer weather months for the duration of their pregnancy, and also seek out environmentally friendly active living activities for their families in the years to come.


We are seeking $600 to support an instructor stipend for dance and yoga instructor Nyota Nayo. This will cover a $50 stipend for each class, for a total of 12 classes. As stated previously, use of the space at Harlem Yoga Studio will be offered free of charge, and all outreach will be conducted on a volunteer basis. project total = $600 ioby fee = $48 total to fundraise = $648


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