After being approached by members of the executive board at Asphalt Green in 1994, Carol Tweedy could not picture herself shifting her career in social services to one involved with physical fitness. Once she saw the facilities being built on East 90th Street she realized that improving people's health was another way for her to help people.
"What I do is all about helping people face life's challenges. All the things I was doing in my career up until that point was about making people stronger, whether it was a kid on the run from a difficult family setting, or delivering healthy meals to home-bound senior citizens," she explained. This realization supported her decision to become the Executive Director of Asphalt Green, a position she has held for the past 30 years.
Tweedy has been successful in building the non-for-profit organization into one of the New York's most valuable resources, offering sports and fitness programs to our community from its beautiful Upper East Side location. Community service is a core part of their mission, offering health programs to thousands of public school students all over the city.
One of their goals at Asphalt Green is to fight the increasing rates of obesity in children. Tweedy and her team developed the Recess Enhancement Program (REP) in 2001 to transform the culture of recess, teaching students how to make the most out their time outdoors. They send their staff to schools where they teach kids new games to play that support positive interaction between the students, and get their heart rates going. The program now services 60 public elementary schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, reaching more than 27,500 students.
"As we grew, this site became like a hotel with no vacancy. It became clear that we have to take what we know and drive it into communities of need all over the city," she said. "Another important part of how our community programs developed was when we realized the pitiful conditions of physical education in the city."
Growing up as a pre title IX girl in New York, Tweedy didn't have access to any sports leagues, so she didn't realize how important staying active was until a little later in her life. Now an avid swimmer and skier, she advocates physical fitness to every all ages. "I realized how transformational being involved in sports and fitness was for me, and I became excited to focus my career on making it more accessible [to New Yorkers]."
In 2008, Tweedy was given the opportunity to make Asphalt Green a citywide agency after being approached by the Battery Park City authority to run their downtown community center. After being awarded this contract, it took several years to open having to wait for its construction and finding sufficient funding, but they successfully opened in June of 2013.
Beginning with her efforts to improve physical education in East Harlem, Carol Tweedy has done an outstanding job of improving the health of New Yorker's all over the city. Using her experience in social services and program development, her focus remains to be on making people stronger to face all the difficulties we encounter in life. "We can't control the challenges that come to us everyday, and life is full of them," she said.