Ropes and Hiking provide new opportunities to move in Verona

“Verona In Motion” is synonymous with the name Steve Neale. He has been an active partner, assisting with meeting the goals of our grant with a focus on nutrition and motion (exercise, positive movement with an emphasis on promoting health).

Steve worked with our intern to produce our, “Safe Routes to School Map” which also overlaps with Verona’s Sustainable NJ Project, Safe Routes action plan. Digitalizing the map made it available on the website as well as personal cell phones. He has been in charge of Verona’s social media, promoting the advertisement of grant related activities. His filming of our nutritional project enabled the Rainbow program to be placed on VTV, where young children could view it on their home TV or on the Township website.

Steve is the Chairman of Sustainable NJ, Verona’s Green Team. As such he has been moving Verona on a positive course including promotion of recycling and green projects. He was responsible for Verona’s first, “Green Fair” during which our nutritional and safe routes projects were highlighted along with healthy promotional displays which included exercise, gardening, cooking and energy saving exhibits to name a few.

An experienced hiker, Steve was instrumental in leading two successful family hikes on Verona’s Reservation trails. One of the hikes merged with the National Trails Day activity (created by the American Hiking Society) which resulted in a write up from the Governor’s office (NJ DEP). Sixty families participated in the successful hikes. As a result four hikes (one each season) will be added to the repertoire of recreational offerings in town. A couple’s sunset hike is also in the planning. New this summer season Steve is putting together the Town’s first Biathlon for grades 6-8, who participate in our Summer Adventure Camp program with plans to extend it to adults next year.

As the, “Ropes Course”, coordinator for Verona, Steve leads many groups through those exercises each year. He and our VMAC coordinator were instrumental in getting a low level course integrated into the fourth grade PE curriculum this fall as well. His expertise has also been an asset in establishing usage of the course in the recreation department, collaborating with the director on new opportunities for movement incorporating ropes elements and local hiking trails.

Partnering with Steve Neale has been a positive experience and has made the effort to bring the idea of, “Verona in Motion”, to the forefront. We are looking forward to collaborating on projects going forward keeping,“ Verona In Motion”.

best_baee16ca38993d7aa7e4_IMG_0517 IMG_4050 IMG_4051 Lets Take a Hike 1-5.2.15 SIZED IMG_3817





























Verona is “in motion”!

After a sluggish start due to weather and partner illnesses we are, “IN MOTION!”

Our, “Safe Routes to School” map is on our township website ( under the Department of Health. It contains the crossing guard stations and time the guards are on duty. It also contains school locations, recreation areas, emergency service locations and township buildings. It will go into the school, “Friday Folder” on their website as well.

Our nutritional program is moving along nicely. We have held three presentations, two at our local Library and one at the parochial school in town. The presentation included a tasting of fruits and vegetables the colors of the rainbow Verona 2 Ash & Erica Screen Shotand a healthy snack demonstration by Chef Carlos. verona B5There were over 120 preschool students and parents in attendance. We have a plan in place to present the program in six remaining preschools and will provide a nutritional theme at our summer playgrounds and recreation tent at the community pool this year.

Our exercise piece is going splendidly. We recently had a Family Hike with 62 families participating and another hike is planned on June 6th , to celebrate National Trails Day. The families enjoyed the hike and are looking forward future events.SIZED IMG_3817

Our coloring book, “Take Me For A Walk Please” will go to print by the end of the month. It is a story (in rhyme) about a little girl who gets her family up and moving. A simple walk provides exercise and time together for the family. The story takes place in Verona. Drawings depict familiar sites which include Verona Park, Hilltop Reservation and the Middle School track. There are also pedestrian walking tips provided.VERONA Takemeforawalkfinalforprint_Page_01

Our Municipal Alliance Committee representative, Rosanne Bornstein and Steve Neale (Sustainable NJ Chair and Ropes course instructor) have been instrumental in getting our Ropes course integrated into the fourth grade physical education curriculum. Physical Education teachers are currently being trained and the program will begin in the fall.

A Health Department representative will be available at Verona’s first Eco Friendly Fair to promote the programs now being offered through the grant.

Verona is in motion but the work continues to make, “Verona in Motion” a household word.




Good People + Good Communication = Success!

The factors which helped me with my project were the people involved. They lent their expertise and helped me with the grant process as well as the projects.

Challenges experienced had to do in part with time management. Getting persons involved with the project together in a timely manner in order to reach deadlines. Timing of presentations, printing of materials for presentations and formation of new materials were dependent upon people who also had other obligations which interfered with the process. There were personnel changes as well. Word press continues to be a challenge.

To overcome challenges it was important to keep in touch on a regular basis with contributors. Daily E-mails as well as phone contact became a regular part of communication. Chief Huber (Verona Police Dept.) Steve Neale (sustainable, NJ chair and our tech person) were instrumental along with intern Ashley Eagan to produce our , “Safe Routes to School map”. Steve Neale assisted with blogs and to do video programs. Erica Abruzzese , Health Educator from Montclair was a valuable resource for the nutritional presentation to preschoolers. A local resident is illustrating our booklet, “Take Me For A Walk Please”, to empower children to get their parents up and walking. Using local talent is helpful on many levels. VERONA Takemeforawalkfinalforprint_Page_01Our Recreation Director, Jim Cunningham also contributed to our family hikes. Relationships with printers we have worked with on other projects also helped.




Verona connects partners for healthy living

How we identified and recruited potential partners was fairly easy as we have been partnering with different organizations or sharing services with other townships. The areas of focus with this grant were discussed with several and those who felt they had something to offer came on board. There were some partners who were contacted with ideas on how they could lend their expertise to the projects.

Key partners include Sustainable Verona Chairperson Steve Neal, who is also our tech person. He has provided valuable assistance in the area of tech support and aligned us with Sustainable goals and objectives as well.

Erica Abruzzese who is the Health Educator for Montclair Health Department has assisted with the nutritional portion of the program and lent her personal expertise as a Health Educator.

Chief Huber from the Police Department has lent his expertise in the development of our, “ Safe Routes to School Map”. VERONA Safe Routes Map ENLARGEDBEST (4)

Key Volunteer organizations include:

Verona Municipal Alliance

Verona Junior Women’s Club

Verona Volunteer Fire Dept.

The volunteer organizations will be on board at a later time to (weather clearing) to promote our, “Walks”. Our Family Hike is scheduled for May 2nd.

Key community decision-makers are the Township Manager and Community Center Coordinator.


Motion is Necessary for Life!

“Verona In Motion” was chosen for our project because it is multifaceted. Motion is necessary for life. If we do not move we stagnate and perish. Movement can be interpreted in many ways. We can move to exercise, move to create, move toward better health habits, move to increase services, move to educate ourselves to all the outcomes of motion.

Our initial focus is on raising awareness and education with a preschool component to educate preschoolers to recognize nutritious fruits and vegetables and encourage parents to incorporate them in healthy meals, snacks and party foods. We will also be encouraging walking as an easy, accessible and inexpensive way to incorporate exercise within the daily routine. The goal is to empower the young to inspire the old. To make, “Motion” the word about town.

Children will learn what it means to Eat the Colors of the Rainbow. This will be fostered by an hour classroom presentation in each preschool in town and at story time in the Verona Library. Vegetable puppets, colorful charts and hands on craft will be presented. A healthy snacks demonstration will also be provided for children and parents.

Walking as a healthy form of exercise and complement for communication will provided through the presentation of a poetic story in coloring book format called, “Take Me For a Walk Please”. It is how a child motivates her family to walk with her, down her street, in the Township Park, on the school track and hilltop hiking path. All highlighting scenes familiar to Verona. Included will be a listing of pedestrian safety tips.

A safe routes to school map is being created which will highlight the crossing guard posts and hours of availability during the week. It will also include recreational areas, bike rack locations and bus stops. The

Maps will be displayed in Town Hall and the Verona Library. Smaller print outs will be handed out for distribution at the schools. Promotion of walking, biking and use of local recreational areas within the Township is used to encourage a wide range of opportunities for healthy motion. A, “Walk in the Park Day”, “Walk to School Day  are planned.

For those at home a series of 15 minute health films have be placed on our VTV 35 and web. An exercise video is also available at scheduled times throughout the day.

There are 5 nursery schools and one day care in town. The average classes have 15-20 students in grades pre three and pre four. A total of approximately 200 students. There are about 30 children attending the Township Library story time programs. There is a target of 230 preschool children for the nutritional and exercise piece. We will also video tape the program for our VTV for preschool viewing in the township which will far exceed the targeted numbers.