Shaping Irvington to launch Play Street events in the summer!

Shaping Irvington coalition members got together on March 17th for the first meeting of the year to discuss the details of planning and execution of nutrition and physical activity strategies to promote community health.Members discussed success stories, lessons learned and challenges from last year Open / Play Streets program to promote physical activities in the community. It was decided to boost this momentum to raise awareness of the need for children to be more physically active by providing basketball, soccer, volley balls, badminton, jump rope, hula hoops, rock climbing and healthy snacks during this will start a journey for kids that can last their entire future.

Open/Play Street events create two to three blocks of safe, fun, car-free space and featured locally organized programming for people to enjoy. Play Streets provide recreational opportunities aimed at youth in Irvington Township’s neighborhoods that currently lack adequate resources and access to recreational programs. We organized one event in each ward of the township during Summer 2013.  Township’s Mayor, council members, block association members, local community leaders and Township’s employees from the Recreation Department, Fire Department, Health Department and Police Department all come out and play with youth and community members to promote healthy physical activities. Programming includes free public health screening, free public health educational literature and nutrition information as well as physical activities targeted towards youth and families. All participants enjoy healthy food, fresh fruits, juices, nuts, granola bars, green salads, smoothies, lemonades and water.

Play Streets will be once a month event on Saturday’s from 11am-2pm starting in early summer running through September. This year two indoor events in the Fall will be organized to promote physical activities.  Councilwoman Ms. Frederic will reach out to the other council members from each ward to pick the dates, location of street and mobilize the community members to participate.

Community and family advocates from the Irvington Schools suggested to reach out the PTA parent members. We will contact the parent coordinators from each public school who will happily work with us for walkability and bikeability assessment focusing on the establishment of safe walking routes to public schools. It was decided that the first planning and training meeting with Meadowlink and Rutgers University’s Voorhees Transportation Center should be in the end of April in order to develop Township wide pedestrian crash mapping.

Members from Community gardens club and University Avenue Middles School’s garden share the success stories from last year gardening projects and requested for additional support in the form of topsoil, seeds and gardening tools. Lead persons from community and school gardens were advised to prepare the list of required items which will be purchased with this year’s Florence Avenue School’s garden supplies. One of the coalition members from the PTA group from Florence Avenue School mentioned that the PTA will be having a monthly meeting on March 20th and our team members are welcome to reach out to the other parents, students and school staff members.

“Adopt the bodega” program to promote the healthy option availability for the community was discussed and decided that we will adopt two more corner grocery store this year near Berkley Ter. Elementary School and Madison Avenue School.

Florence Ave. Elementary School garden moving along!

The students, teachers, parents and community members in attendance were pleased to hear of the plans for the school garden during the meeting on Thursday evening 3-20-2014 at the cafeteria of Florence Avenue Elementary School. Majority of students and parents in the meeting committed to participate and help sustain this exciting new and improved gardening project at their school. With the help of The Master Gardeners of Essex County, Rutgers Cooperative Extension expert, school principal, staff members, parents and students, the suitable garden site was selected in the parking lot area near the water hoes of the school building. It was decided to develop a health council, gardening club in the school under the leadership of two teachers, which will consist of students, teaching staff members, custodian team members and parents.

Fran Kroeckel from The Master Gardeners of Essex County, Rutgers Cooperative Extension who is a key lead person for the Irvington community and school gardens projects, agreed again to provide hands on training in the garden and in classrooms on the Garden Curriculum to teachers and children.

ShapingNJ Irvington is off the a great start!

Irvington Township Health Department appreciates the ShapingNJ grant program to support our community for this third round of grant. Our mission is to encourage, promote and assure the development of an active, healthy community through innovative public health practices.

With funding from the previous rounds of ShapingNJ Irvington  Grants, the Health Department and the Mayor’s office worked together effectively (along with the Board of Education, Public Housing Authority, local business,  faith  base and community partner organizations ) to establish community gardens on the grounds of the Senior Building and the University Middle School, create 2 separate walking clubs constituted by over 240 hundred participants, establish a community gardening club of over 65 members, promote healthy food choices at four local bodegas near schools, create an open play streets program about 2000 residents participated , and develop healthy life style educational materials for community consumption.  Momentum from these initiatives has spread through Irvington and other community gardens have sprung up at the Waris Cultural Center and within the township’s East Ward. The Mayor’s office and the health department have even been successful in garnering other funds from the Wells Fargo Foundation to supplement these efforts, providing seed dollars for the East Ward Joint Block Association to create a truly exceptional garden.

For the first time in the history of Irvington, 20 Irvington seniors have participated during the last couple of New Jersey Seniors Olympics at Woodbridge and have won 7 gold medals, 5 bronze & 2 silver in different games!

With the third round of funds from ShapingNJ, Irvington will spearhead activities that will lead to the expansion of physical activity of local play/open streets program. This involves the continuation of the successful outdoor program initiated in 2013 and the addition of 2 indoor play events at the local community center and at Irvington High School.  The promotion of healthy nutrition offerings recently at four bodegas initiated with the ShapingNJ   will also be expanded with the addition of two new bodega partners and more racks for healthy foods at existing partner locations in the proximity of public schools.  Additionally, we plan to support the creation of another community garden and gardening club at one of our elementary schools.  We will be working with Meadowlink and Rutgers University’s Voorhees Transportation Center in order to develop township wide pedestrian crash mapping and execute a walkability and bikeability assessment focusing on the establishment of safe walking and biking routes to public schools.

Stay tuned for more information!

Irvington Play/Open Street Program 2013

We are pleased to announce the Irvington Play/Open Street Program 2013:

South Ward
Date: Saturday, June 8, 2013
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Location: Maple Ave between Nye & May Ave.

West Ward
Date: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Location: 40th Street Park

Unity Day
Date: Saturday, August 10, 2013
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Location: Orange Park, Behind Irvington High School

East Ward
Date: Saturday, August 24, 2013
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Location: Berkley Terr.  Between Eastern Parkway & Grove St.

North Ward
Date: Saturday, August 31, 2013
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Location: In front Irvington Town Hall, between Clinton Ave. & Springfield Ave.

Gathering to Shaping Irvington

On February 12, we met with the Irvington Mayor, Irvington council members, Directors of Police Department, Fire Department, Parks & Recreation Department, Neighborhood Services, Urban Enterprise Zone and Health Department regarding Play Streets Program and marketing healthy products in food markets within the proximity of schools.  We held discussions on dates, locations and activities for the Play Streets Program and decided that we will be organizing six play street events, one in each ward, one in front of Town Hall and one at Orange Park on Irvington Township’s annual Unity day. We also discussed the food markets and identified four locations near schools to market the healthy foods. These locations will be near elementary, middle, high school and business district of the Township. We have scheduled our next partnership meeting for March 22.  We are extremely grateful to ShapingNJ, with your help we are gathering to SHAPE Township of Irvington!