As our Shaping Dover initiative comes to an end we start to reminisce about our project, its challenges, its impact in our community, our activities, and all the people who have helped us get here. We can’t help but feel proud of our accomplishments.
We started by meeting monthly with great community partners such as: Zufall Health Center, Berkeley College; Get To It Program, ADP Insurance Agency, Little Peoples Academy, NORWESCAP Early Head Start, Henry O. Baker Insurance Agency, Head Start Community Program of Morris County, Dover Rotary Club, Statewide Parents Advocate Network, and Dover Lions Club, interns from William Paterson University, volunteers from our Family Success Center agency and In addition to these great partners, we are pleased to have the support of decision makers in our community such as James Dodd, Major of Dover; Susan Downer, Health Inspector of the Town of Dover, and Claudia Choto, Nurse of the Town of Dover.
These meetings allowed us to brainstorm great ideas for our initiative. First, it was decided to conduct assessments for food environment and physical activity in the Dover Community. More than 300 residents were surveyed. The results of the surveys guided us on where to focus our resources in order to make the most impactful environmental change possible. The results gave us an idea on what the residents of Dover needed the most such as more access to gyms and healthy food. Fifty one percent of the residents surveyed said that they “sometimes” engage in physical activity, meanwhile they listed “no time, no motivation, and no parks nearby as the major reasons why they do not engage in physical activities.
The Shaping Dover team decided to focus on creating free fitness workshops and fitness activities, while working with restaurant business owners to add healthier options in their menus. We had non-stop fitness workshops every Saturday at 12:00pm at our agency. However, the number of participants outgrew our facility thus we contacted our mayor’s office who gladly is permitting us to use the Dover Community Center. This center has the space to allow us to grow and offer the Dover community a place to exercise indefinitely.
In June 2015 we partnered with our local Health Department in order to train business owners and their employees in proper food handling and nutrition classes. More than one hundred individuals participated in this training which took place at Berkeley College, our local college in Dover. After having these trainings we surveyed the participants in order to analyze their cooking techniques and willingness to change or add to healthier options to their menus.
Seventy one percent of the restaurant owners/employees surveyed answered that they are willing to consider changing their cooking technics. Furthermore, Business owners responded that 46% of customers have at some point requested healthier options in their business.
We encouraged business owners to give us ideas on how to implement our goals. One of these suggestions was to design a logo that would express the meaning of Shaping Dover. The purpose of the logo contest is to raise awareness of our initiative while also getting kids involved in a healthier frame of mind. Kids ages 10-18 will design our logo and will not only receive great prizes but also better understand what it means to live a healthier lifestyle. The award ceremony of the contest will take place on October 3rd at the Annual Health Fair of one of our biggest supporters, The Head Start Community Program. This year The Dover Head Start program is also celebrating their 50th anniversary. We are extremely excited for Shaping Dover to join their celebration.
We are sad to see Shaping Dover coming to an end but we believe it has started a fitness revolution in our town. Dover is a peculiar town filled with great people who join together despite being from so many different backgrounds. We have the best restaurants in New Jersey (no, we are not biased) and we are working towards having the healthiest town as well. We are looking forward to what the next couple of months will bring but we are confident the community is ready for health!