One of the most powerful aspects of the Shaping NJ program is that it brings various organizations and volunteers together to create change that is bigger than any one group could produce alone. Throughout the duration of the “Walking Towards the Green” health impact and livability assessment in Camden’s Waterfront South neighborhood, our partnerships have continued to blossom, aiding in the implementation of this grant and spurring future collaborations.
We had the pleasure of interviewing one of our original project partners, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s (NJCF) Olivia Glenn, who was able to expand on the assessment’s successes and to offer future strategies for continuing to enhance access to walking and biking routes in Waterfront South. Below are Olivia’s responses to our interview questions.
What do you see as the primary role of NJCF in the Shaping NJ Waterfront South Assessment? New Jersey Conservation Foundation takes great pride in preserving land statewide for the benefit of all. We know that there are clear health benefits in access and utilization of preserved lands and health outcomes. It was our great pleasure to participate in this assessment to work with Waterfront South neighborhood residents in safely accessing their locally preserved lands to prospectively improve their health outcomes.
In your opinion, what are the most essential follow-up steps to the walking assessment? I think it is imperative that we do all we can to ensure that the street corridors are safe. This can be achieved through enhancing ongoing efforts to reroute truck traffic outside of residential neighborhoods and improving major crosswalks with pedestrian friendly features. Examples include painting crosswalks, installing planters and improving lighting for residents.
What most surprised you about the assessment process, or what was the most interesting thing you discovered? Many of the items we discussed for improvements are “low hanging fruit.” By continuing to work together and bring in additional partners, many improvements can be installed in short order.
Going forward, who needs to be informed about the assessment results and how can additional outside partners help move us towards implementation of study recommendations? We should bring in additional transportation professionals to properly install proposed safety features on the roadways.
We are lucky to be able to work with such a strong and passionate group of local residents, non-profit groups and agency officials. Feedback from Olivia Glenn and all project partners will certainly aid in our efforts going forward to make Waterfront South a safer and more convenient place to walk, bicycle and incorporate exercise into people’s daily lives.
Residents of Elizabeth enjoyed our second play street July 20th in Midtown Elizabeth.
The pictures and videos tell the story:
Stan Neuron, City of Elizabeth along with Council Members William Gallman, Jr 5th Ward and Carlos Torres, 1st Ward and Donald Johnson welcome everyone to Shaping Elizabeth Play Street.
Safety first. Over 50 kids received helmets from “Safe Kids Program” Children’s Specialized Hospital.
YMCA Staff Leo and Rafael help the kids “Get Physical”.
You Go Girl!
Lets Get Loose!
The Day Begins!
Congratulations to Emily’s Supermarket in Elizabeth
FIRST HEALTHY CORNER STORE IN BAYWAY AREA!
Our First Healthy Corner Store Enrollment!
A team from Shaping Elizabeth including: Priscilla Machado, Bayway Family Success Center, Jonathan Phillips and Rocio Morales, Groundwork Elizabeth, Karen Ensle, Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Alane McCahey, The Gateway Family YMCA accompanied by Anna Ramos, NJ Corner Store Initiative set out into Elizabeth to visit 3 stores.
Anna was a great teacher and helped us get started. Priscilla had scouted a couple of stores in Bayway. Emily’s Supermarket in the Bayway area next to Mrvalag Housing and School #5 was excited to sign up. Storeowner Daniel Bernal has been involved with healthy corner stores in Newark and was ready to sign on immediately. With intake form complete Priscilla and Alane will be visiting the store in 2 weeks to supply healthy signage and learn what 4 healthy changes the store has made. We are hoping they may choose a healthy snack option and maybe some whole wheat bread.
The YES Program of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen continues to make healthy connections with the families and children in New Brunswick. As the summer is upon us, the program continues to plan multiple activities focused around health and nutrition. In June, the program offered a Father’s Day healthy breakfast and nutrition activities in partnership with the New Brunswick Food Corps.
Supplies for garden and Farmer’s Market activities were purchased as part of the summer program offered to over 100 children in July and August at the Catholic Charities YES Program. Additionally, our garden continues to grow and flourish as we water and nurture our plants and flowers.
The YES Program continues to plan a Family Fitness Fun Night in July which will include a Zumba class as well as a field trip to the local Farmer’s Market this summer. Additional cooking classes will be provided towards the fall in collaboration with Elijah’s Promise.
Feedback from community partners and families continues to show positive involvement in the projects and accomplishments in educating the community of New Brunswick on the importance of health and nutrition.
Here is one comment:
“The parents like learning about ways to eat healthier for them and their children and they found out some nutritional facts they never knew, which was good.”
The old African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” rings true for anyone in the field of education. At National Park School we are extremely fortunate to have the support of many “villagers”, especially that of councilwoman Annemarie Henry. The concept of a Community Garden specifically designed for the children of the borough all started with Mrs. Henry just twelve short months ago. And as we walked around the garden one steamy summer afternoon, surrounded by tomatoes, squash, peppers and more, it was exciting to note that her ideas have come to fruition. Mrs. Henry’s support has not only resulted in a thriving garden, it has also resulted in increased awareness regarding how vegetables grow and are harvested. Thanks to the support of National Park’s Mayor Mark Cooper and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Mrs. Henry has started a weekly Farm Stand where community members are able to support the garden by purchasing freshly grown vegetables every Saturday. Mrs. Henry uses this opportunity to teach the students about the garden, allowing them to personally harvest vegetables ready for the taking. Just this past weekend a 1st grade student stopped by anxious to check on her blue tomatoes. This excitement is a direct reflection of Mrs. Henry’s own excitement about the garden. Mrs. Henry also dedicates every Wednesday, 10:00am-1:00pm tending the garden as well as Sunday mornings starting at 9:00am. Volunteers are welcome to join her as we work together to support our growing children!
Our path is under construction pictures will be coming soon.
It is a good time to take a moment to thank our Walk N Talk group and other partners. The Walk N Talk program has grown into a close network of friendships for the participants. Most of the group are senior citizens many living on their own and very eager to participate in social events.
The Walk N Talk group walks rain or shine.
When the weather gets cold, we move indoors to the Health Department’s conference room. We walk in place with the guidance of Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home DVD.
WALK WALK WALK
Our number one walker Howard Foxwell. He is a retired mailman. 36 years of mail service. That’s a lot of miles!
Worlds Greatest Grandpa marching in place.
Last year, we ran a pilot program with the Salem County Office of Aging to provide free lunches to our walking participants. The lunches were paid for by a grant to prevent nutritional deprivation in the elderly. To receive the free lunch participants must be a Salem County resident, over the age of 60, and fill out a small form.
The girls enjoying lunch!
Last lunch of 2014.
The pilot lunch program was a success and the lunches are back! The walking group is very happy. Thank you Office of Aging for taking care of our group of special people. Thank you to the Walk N Talk group for your dedication to the program!
Victoria from the Salem County Office of Aging handing out lunches to our participants.