Shaping Elizabeth’s organizational strategy supports the way we work together to complete the goals of our projects. The Active Living Work Group is leading our Play Streets project and Access to Healthy Foods is leading the Corner Store Initiative. Due to this structure we have had the ability to engage many partners in order to achieve success.
Krishna Garlic, Director of Health & Human Services, City of Elizabeth is the leader of the Active Living Work Group and along with Michael Johnson, Director of Association Initiatives, The Gateway Family YMCA have been working together with several organization to plan and implement 3 Play Streets in Elizabeth. Krishna’s leadership has led to connections with all 3 council people in each Ward who not only support the events with their time and presence, all have also agreed to match a bicycle donation for a raffle. WellCare Health Plans would donate 3 bikes if we could find a match. The council people also were instrumental in finding locations in each of their Ward areas.
The Community Food Bank of New Jersey will donate water and fresh fruit for each event and each partner is donating water as well. The City of Elizabeth has agreed to support the event through staffing, police and emergency personal as well as shirts for the event. It is our hope that Mayor Bollwage will attend.
The goal of the Play Streets is to engage both adults and children to get active. In that spirit we will use a “bingo card” for event participation that can be submitted for raffle prizes for both adults and children. We want to see everyone participate.
Attached is our Play Streets flyer. Shaping Elizabeth Playstreets
Jonathan Phillips, Executive Director, Groundwork Elizabeth and Karen Ensle, Family & Community Educator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension are Leaders of our Healthy Foods Work Group. At the first organizational meeting the team reviewed the list of stores provided by the City of Elizabeth Health Officer Mark Colicchio and decided on parameters for engagement: size of store (smaller square footage locations), willingness of owners to change, location of store (near a school or housing authority) and current inventory. Each participant agreed to visit stores, take a picture and asses current offerings. The next planning meeting is scheduled for May 27th, 7-8 stores will be selected for further engagement.
Both projects are progressing. The Play Streets Program has moved at a quick pace due to the leadership and support of the City of Elizabeth. The biggest challenge is deciding on the need for people to sign a waiver or release to attend the event which may limit children participating alone. The Corner Store Initiative is progressing and now that the Healthy Food Work Group has assumed leadership implementation of initiative is off and running. Time is always our biggest challenge.
Shaping Elizabeth is very fortunate to have the City of Elizabeth’s support for both of these projects. The resources and connections that have been facilitated have lead to increased support from City of Elizabeth Council People as well as city services. The Mayor of Elizabeth supports both of these projects in a large part due to the advocacy for our work by Ms. Garlic. In the future, this should prove invaluable when moving to sustainable policy and environmental changes.