Different Paths to the Same Destination

In March of 2014, the YMCA of Paterson set out to assist faith-based congregations and communities within the city of Paterson, New Jersey. The goal was to provide physical and nutrition based programming once a week for three hours. Within this time period, activities included Healthy Eating workshops, Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) activities, and general fitness and aquatics programs. With 60.7% of New Jersey’s population being overweight and 23.8% obese, according to the CDC website, the YMCA felt it was necessary to help put a large dent into the obesity epidemic prevalent within the Paterson community.

We began our programming with St. Luke’s Baptist Church and outreached with Wholelife Community Church from the neighboring township of Totowa. 33 individuals were introduced to CATCH and to the importance of food selection and food timing and participated in swimming, basketball, and fitness activities. With the end of the school year and the onset of the hot summer months, scheduled family vacations and weekend trips slowed down attendance.

To not lose momentum, we incorporated the YMCA Summer Camp and its 125 participants into the program. We changed our internal policy by introducing the YMCA’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards. 45 minutes of physical activity for four days out of the week with limited television and computer usage was also implemented. Collaborating with the Paterson Task Force allowed for every student to be provided a meal that consisted of one protein, one fruit, one vegetable, and an occasional starch. Furthermore, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Program spent the summer months teaching the many different aspects of healthy eating such as the My Plate Icon, new to most campers, the importance of family meal time, and how more fruits and vegetables can be included in their diet.

Understanding that healthy eating and increased physical movement must be put into practice, our goal was to introduce, further expand, and activate movement and the importance of a balanced diet. Many children and adults know its importance and the YMCA of Paterson wanted to and accomplished providing the opportunity to physically use the knowledge that has been sitting within them through use of our facility, the improvement of standards, and education.


Living Faith the Healthy Way

The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School advocates for legal,regulatory, and policy reform to improve the health of under served populations with a focus on the needs of low income people living with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The recently published PATHS: Providing Access to Healthy Solutions of March 2014, focuses on Diabetes.

They included a segment regarding Complete Streets and promoted how physical activity is a crucial factor in decreasing obesity and also type 2 diabetes. We are happy that the Complete Streets Policy is in alignment with a national campaign that will help to combat obesity!

The second part of our grant focuses on our faith based champion, Selinette Bordoy, who has done tremendous work with her place of worship, The Living Faith Alliance Church of Vineland. She started her faith-based work by implementing the program “Living Faith the Healthy Way”and broke it down into three separate phases thus far. The current phase is “Living Faith the Healthy Way: The Movement Edition”.

A few of our Living Faith Alliance Church members staying active and enjoying some fun in the sun!

A few of our Living Faith Alliance Church members staying active and enjoying some fun in the sun!

We are enhancing the access to healthy food and physical activity within our parish and community. Instead of consuming sweets and pastries after church, we offer water and healthier snacks. By cooking demonstrations, members are ultimately changing their environment by taking the time to cook from scratch instead of buying prepackaged meals. We encourage and hold prayer walks, bike to church with our children in a bike seat, and move in our class while reviewing learned verses. There is a new found awareness of learning/following Jesus in our food and exercise.

Selinette stated “This program is about following Jesus into every part of our lives. We were taught and now it’s our job to teach others, just like the disciples would”.

Stay tuned to see the next phase of our Living Faith the Healthy Way program! Continue reading

Joining Healthy Spirits With Healthy Minds In Paterson

Beginning in March 2014, the YMCA of Paterson will assist faith-based congregations and communities within the City of Paterson in positively changing their perceptions on nutrition and physical activity.  The program will run every Saturday for three hours, with activities including Healthy Eating Workshops, Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) participation, and aquatics and general fitness programs.

We have partnered with local community organizations such as Shoprite, the Paterson Health Department, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and City Green in order to provide healthy eating workshops on a monthly basis.  The YMCA of Paterson will provide CATCH activities during the second segment of the day to help strengthen the bond between family members as they benefit from fun-filled physical activities.  The final segment will give participants the option to swim, play basketball, or use our fitness center, in order to increase the body’s movement.

According to the CDC website, 60.7% of New Jersey’s population is overweight, while 23.8% is obese.  With much excitement, the YMCA of Paterson is looking forward to work with our partners to introduce information regarding healthier eating habits to the city’s multiple faith-based communities and help increase intensity and duration of physical activity amongst our programs’ participants in order to help combat the obesity epidemic that has hit our community.

Living Healthy at Living Hope Church

Pastor Lucy Guzman of Living Hope Church

Pastor Lucy is writing a model wellness policy that can be used by faith-based organizations

Living Hope Church has a long history of leading East Trenton residents on a spiritual journey to health and happiness. Pastor Lucy Guzman has served on the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Trenton (NJPHK-T) steering committee since our inception in 2010. There was never a doubt that she would be a strong champion for the faith-based initiatives that are being funded by ShapingNJ. In addition to motivating her own congregants, Pastor Lucy is drafting a model wellness policy that she will with share the other four participating churches. Below, she shares her personal story of the integral role physical wellness plays in the creation of a healthy community church:

Shannon (Network Assistant for NJPHK-T):
Why is church wellness important? Can you provide an example or story from your experience as a pastor?

Pastor Lucy (Living Hope Church, 401 Farragut Avenue Trenton, NJ 08829):

Church wellness is important because our heavenly Father is not just concerned about our spiritual condition. He cares about our mind, body and soul. 

When we arrived to Trenton, two women in our church recognized that their lives had become unmanageable due to their uncontrollable overeating.  We began a walking group, and then used exercise DVDs and now we do 45 minutes of Zumba.  We began with classes on healthy food plans, but now we learn how to cook healthy recipes and about 25 of us have dinner together while we listen to a speaker on a topic of interest for women.


Most helpful were our motivational Bible studies reminding us that we are God’s creation and that we are commanded to be good stewards of His creation.  The Bible teaches that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that we are to keep it holy.


Two women in particular have remained constant in their commitment.  One lost 100 lbs and the other went from 254 to her current weight of 162 for a total loss of 92 lbs.  Both have kept the weight off.

What are some of the things you’re learning as you draft the Faith-Based Wellness Policy?

Pastor Lucy:

I am pleasantly surprised that people are not complaining about the fact that we stopped serving donuts and soda as part of our Sunday after church refreshments.

Shannon: How will having a wellness policy impact the lives the of your church members?

Pastor Lucy:

People are realizing that wellness is not just adhering to a temporary diet but a willingness to make a lifestyle change.  It involves healthy foods in moderate quantities, exercise and active living, and getting regular health screenings.

Pastor Lucy’s holistic ministry is an important part of building a healthier Trenton. To read more about her personal health journey, visit her bio.

Faith-Based Progress in Trenton

NJPHK-Trenton is happy to announce that Union Baptist Church of Trenton (UBC) will be participating in the Shaping NJ mini-grant church wellness initiative. UBC will be implementing two of the three initiative options. The UBC board put commendable effort into developing ideas that go above and beyond our recommendations for adopting a church wellness policy and conducting walking audits around Monument school.  Volunteers are already being gathered for the latter, and the board’s ideas for the former are very impressive.

UBC will host a Healthy Kickoff Event on May 19th, which will feature the first healthy fellowship breakfast. During this event, members of the Kids Church will be invited to participate in a poster contest to demonstrate their knowledge of nutritious foods and physical activity. A special area of the church bulletin board will be dedicated to wellness and revealed on the 19thas well. Healthy tips and physical activity suggestions will also be featured in weekly bulletins, and on their Facebook page. This will increase exposure to healthy foods and provide congregants with nutritional information that will help them make healthy decisions throughout the week. By modeling wellness, UBC is leading the pack!