Burlington County…..Let’s P.L.A.A.Y!

In Burlington County we set out to empower, encourage and equip the community, Head Start and Early Head Start Families with a variety of local resources and options designed to promote healthy food choices and fitness for adults and youth. In addition, our goal was to form new partnerships with community organizations with common goals.

The short time frame to revise our initial plans for the grant, the harsh winter, and summer vacation season all presented several challenges.  The harsh winter created postponement of meetings. The summer vacation season resulted in lower than anticipated or desired participation in some events.  As a result scheduling of events and the structure of events were adapted in order to accomplish our goals.

Despite the challenges, new partners enthusiastically joined the P.L.A.A.Y! Grant team.  Our partners include: The Burlington County Health, Holly Funckhouser the Public Health Officer, Department of Child Protection and Permanency, Pi Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, Dr. Trina Gipson, Chosen Freeholders of Burlington County “Health Starts Here Initiative with Fitness Instructor Tara Morton”, Chef Delilah Winder, Teen Chef Dante Foggy, Family Success Center, WIC, American Heart/Stroke Association, Burlington County Parks Department, NJAES/Rutgers, Providence House of Catholic Charities, Burlington County Human Service Office and American Diabetes Association.  The P.L.A.A.Y activities will be included in the Burlington County Community Health Improvement Plan (C.H.I.P.).

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The P.L.A.A.Y! grant offered Burlington County a variety of activities on wellness from the garden to the table as well as a variety of activities on health and fitness from the inside out over the last several months. The Health, Wellness, Nutrition and Fitness fair in May featured Go Green themes. The Go Green with gardening session was presented by the American Heart/Stroke Association. Participants learned how to plant their own garden and received free plants ready to plant.   During the summer months we offered a four week free Healthy Plate and Fitness Makeover and Challenge that allowed participants to learn key steps to promoting health.  One of the participants stated according to her doctor “her blood pressure has improved and she no longer needed one of two medications she was taking”.  There was a Brown Bag Lunch Series for working adults and an evening and afternoon wellness session at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Burlington, New Jersey. The Pastor of Tabernacle hosted a wellness Sunday and sermon on wellness.

We learned that offering incentives not only encourages participation, incentives equip participants to immediately apply what they have experienced or learned.  The free garden plants from the AHA allowed for hands-on gardening training and provided a plant ready to plant.  Some Participants won a Ninja or Nutra-Bullet during a cooking demonstration and hands-on instructions. The Ninja and Nutra-Bullet allowed participants to learn how to make soups, hummus, smoothies, healthy snacks for children and…. more with ingredients found in their kitchen. This encouraged and promoted the consumption of more vegetables and fruits and creative ways to prepare fresh vegetables and fruits. Participants who won fitness equipment learned how to properly use the equipment.

On Saturday, September 20, 2014 we will host a Community, Fun, Food, Family and Fitness Day.  This day will offer fitness information for all ages, a Moon Bounce, an outdoor play ground, walking trail, fitness obstacle course, cooking demonstrations, Family Community Resources and an opportunity to win a Health/Fitness Makeover. The winners will receive a 2 complimentary home visits from a professional chef and registered dietitian. The complimentary home visits will include wellness, nutrition, hands on cooking demonstrations and fitness instruction for the whole family. The event location is the Delanco (Carolynn Henderson) Head Start Center, 2431 Burlington Avenue, Delanco, NJ. Time is 9AM to 3PM.

P.L.A.A.Y! – Promoting Lifelong Activity among Adults and Youth!

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