Keeping Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Present at Community Wide Events in Garfield NJ

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The Community of Garfield has certainly been alive with celebration in the month of June. A Community Week End took place on June 20th and 21st.

June 20th was a celebration for families; the first day of summer and the last day of school. What did over 1,000 (yes one thousand participants) decide to do that night? They came to Belmont Oval Park for a movie under the stars; Disney’s Frozen. The movie started at dusk but participants were invited to come to the park at 6:00 p.m. for games and food. The Y was present with their staff who are trained as Horizon BCBS Healthy U CATCH facilitators (Coordinated Approach to Childhood Health) to get kids playing. The CATCH curriculum puts an emphasis on non-elimination games which provides moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to keep kids moving and having fun.

In addition to CATCH, children had the opportunity to bounce and slide before settling down for a movie. The Y was also on hand with a Shaping NJ Project! Many families packed their own food and picnics; however dinner and snacks were for sale. The Y ensured there was a healthy option available and provided 500 bananas and apples as snacks for participants.

The following day, the City came out for the Dundee Dam River Walk Dedication. Many years in the making, Garfield cleaned up the diesel lots that once rested on the River Front and built a walk-way and a park. Families from the whole city came out to meet local business owners, play games, visit vendors and attended the unveiling of the statue of Casimir Pulaski — a Polish military commander who fought in the American Revolutionary War — that stands at the center of the park. The statue won the support of the large Polish population in Garfield. The Y was on hand once again with the Shaping NJ Project making sure healthy options were available and gave away bananas and apples all day.

In the meantime, there is a garden that is growing at 33 Outwater Lane and receiving tremendous attention because of its lush color and beauty! Visitors have been able to clip their own herbs from the garden including oregano, basil and mint. While we wait for our first harvest of vegetables, 2 Community Wide Programs are in place for the summer. “The Gardener Is In” is a 6 week program that meets at the garden once a week. Garden State Urban Farms and Master Gardeners will be supplying instruction and activity in the garden for any community member who is interested in learning more about growing food, nutrition, nature, science, etc…This is an intergenerational program and the  invitation to the community says,  “The Gardner is in every Thursday from 1:00-2:00. Meet at the picnic table at 33 Outwater Lane.”

Lastly, a larger Urban Farming Project in the City is taking place through the RWJ sponsored Healthy Living Food For Thought Summer Garden Program. This program will engage volunteers to support their community by learning how to grow healthy food while having fun. All ages will; learn how to garden, grow fruits and vegetables, learn healthy behaviors, nutrition education, have physical activity opportunities, experience fun and fellowship and lastly community service. The program is being run by Denise Pangilinan, a Rutgers graduate student currently working on a Master’s degree in Public Health. Her project is to do an evaluation of the “Food for Thought: Healthy Living” Community garden program. The purpose of the study is to evaluate if this program can lead to behavior change in physical activity and healthy food adoption among program participants. She will also do a process evaluation to measure the effectiveness of the program.

Summer will definitely be an exciting time in the Garden and around the City. We hope you can stop by to meet the Gardener one day!

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