Welcome to the new Atlantic City, where health is imperative and change is occurring! After a very productive and positive summer, it is safe to say that a movement is underway. Six of Atlantic City’s corner stores have begun implementing the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative. The owners of La Abaduncia, Cedar Basic Foods, A&B Grocery, K&K Gift and Grocery, and Cedar Market VIII—just to name a few—have taken steps toward improving the quality of life for local residents by providing healthier food options.

As where there have been changes to the physical environment, health based educational and encouragement programs have also been expanded to ensure that true impact occurs. Last year, the YMCA brought its Healthy U Program to two of Atlantic City’s schools: Texas Avenue and Richmond Avenue. This year, the program will be brought to New York Avenue School! This means that more children will have the opportunity to be engaged in physical activity. During out of school time, children will have access to healthier foods at participating corner stores.

So, what are the future plans? Recently, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and Rutgers SnapED department have been discussing expanding education programs by offering health screenings near partnered corner stores and schools. As where this has only been a preliminary discussion, creating a culture of health in Atlantic City looks promising.


YMCA Encouraging Healthy Perth Amboy Teens

Over the last 6 weeks, every Saturday from 7pm-10:30pm, we opened our doors to the neighborhood teens.  ALL Perth Amboy teens are welcome, not just Y members, as we wanted to ensure every local teen had access to exercise and a safe environment where they could thrive.

We have seen the attendance at our Teen Center nights more than double each week!  As the word gets out to the community, more and more teens are taking advantage of this great opportunity to come together just for the sake of exercise and of course FUN!  The teens are lining up in front of our building at 6:30pm waiting to utilize the gymnasium, weight room, athletic training center, aquatics and dance/exercise studios.  Last week’s Teen Center night brought in 300+ neighborhood teens to our facility.  We are so pleased to offer over 300 community teens the opportunity to exercise!

Teen Center night is helping to foster a sense of belonging with the community teens.  The first time they attend a Teen Center night, they join a 30 min session to learn about the facility and how it is “their place” as long as they respect it, and each other.  We want them to feel the Y is their home away from home, to incorporate exercise into their daily lives and create a sense of pride and accomplishment when they care for their community assets.

They come to Teen Center nights for exercise and leave with friendships, stronger interpersonal skills and a sense of belonging.  Our hope is that it also creates a big impact on their overall health.

To learn more about our Teen Center, please follow us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/RBAYMCA

RETURNING SOON!!  Community Garden and Farmer’s Market

SAVE THE DATE: April 25th Healthy Kids Day

Photos courtesy of Jack Heidelberger


Our Sports Director, Louis Quinones working with first-time Teen Center attendees

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Whether baseball, basketball, dance, weights or just walking the track, the teens take full advantage of THEIR NIGHT at the Raritan Bay Area Y!

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Making Healthy Food Choices with “Go,” “Slow,” and “Whoa”


Franklin Borough Elementary After School Care creating “MyPlate”

Franklin Borough Elementary After School Care creating “MyPlate”

Franklin Borough Elementary After School Care creating “MyPlate”

Franklin Borough Elementary After School Care creating “MyPlate”

Thanks to a grant from the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, which was awarded to the Sussex County YMCA, children at the Franklin Borough Elementary School have been given an opportunity to learn about healthy eating habits.

The kids have been learning about “Go,” “Slow,” and “Whoa” foods through the “Healthy U” program. “Go” foods are the healthiest foods that children can eat almost anytime, such as fruits and vegetables, skim and low-fat milk. “Slow” foods are sometimes foods, and shouldn’t be eaten everyday such as waffles and pancakes. “Whoa” foods should make you say “Whoa! Should I eat that?” “Whoa” foods are the least healthy foods or the once in a while foods such as french fries or soda. When children know the difference between “Go,” “Slow,” and “Whoa” foods, they feel empowered to make smart choices for healthy eating.

In addition, the children have been learning portion control using “MyPlate” learning activities. “MyPlate” gives children a strong visual picture of the five food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein (meat, beans, fish, and nuts), milk and dairy products.

Helping Kids Get Fit and Healthier in Asbury Park, NJ!

The Monmouth County Health Department is getting kids fit and healthier one community at a time!  We’re expanding our “Action for Fitness” program to Asbury Park, NJ in 2014. 

Building on the successful School Health Councils (SHCs) in Farmingdale (2011) and Belmar (2012) we are ready to start SHCs at two Asbury Park schools in March – Bradley Elementary School and Thurgood Marshall School.  

Research has shown that SHCs are a proven way to promote good nutrition and increased physical activity for students and their families.

Our plans for the Asbury Park SHCs include the following policy and environmental changes which will transform the school community. 

  • We’ll develop a birthday/school celebration strategy to promote fruits and veggies and limit the amount and portion size of sweets.
  • We’ll study the current physical activity policy in the schools and suggest changes to support increased activity.
  • We’ll provide 3 weeks of rollerskating lessons during physical education class that will get kids active, smiling and sweating; start a weekly walking contest that will have kids counting steps to reach different NJ locations; and provide a memorable school assembly about the need for daily heart-pumping activity and how nutrition impacts all that the students do in a day. 
  • We’ll promote healthy recipes and low cost fitness activities in newsletters, posters and by other means. 
  • Our YMCA partner will provide Zumba classes and family fitness events for kids and parents. In addition, we hope to start the CATCH curriculum in the Fall to encourage healthy eating and more activity.

SHC partners include the Community YMCA, YMCA of Western Monmouth County, Master Gardeners, Medical Reserve Corps, CentraState Health Care System, Meridian Health, Mayor’s Wellness Committee, NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids, Shaping NJ, NJ Department of Health, the PTO, local merchants and corporate funders.

To find out more about what we are doing, contact Lisa Lee at Lisa.Lee@co.monmouth.nj.us or 732-431-7456.

Salad Bars and Safer Streets in Trenton, NJ

The focus of New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids – Trenton is to prevent childhood obesity through the implementation of environmental and policy change.  Our leadership team is directed by the Trenton Area YMCA and Isles, Incorporated.We have been working to “make the healthy choice the easy choice” for our youth and their families for over a year, and plan to build upon our successes.

Let’s take a trip back to last year and recap what was accomplished in both the physical activity and nutrition strategies:

Last year, we proposed a physical activity strategy to team up with church congregants and hold walking audits to analyze the City’s streetscape around three public schools in Trenton, to identify possible improvements that could be made to turn the busy, vehicle-centric streets into safe Complete Streets that students and citizens could travel safely.

Below are some photos from those walking audits, where we found LOTS of improvements to be made!


Overgrown foliage blocks the sidewalk and obstructs the motorist’s vision of pedestrians and vice versa.


No handicapped-accessible ramp – NOT safe for wheelchairs/power chairs, strollers, etc!


No designated parking shoulders for vehicles, so vehicles park directly on the sidewalk, obstructing pedestrians and blocking motorist’s view of pedestrians.


Maybe the scariest find of the walking audits – This telephone pole is split wide enough to fit a head though!

A checklist was created from the walking audits to be fixed.  This year, we plan to fix those items on the checklist.

Also, last year we proposed a healthy nutrition strategy of implementing five wellness policies into active faith-based organizations around Trenton.  As a result, ministries and their congregations would have healthier food choices at church-based events, youth-based activities, child care centers and more.  The policies would also promote physical activity along with healthy nutrition.  We were successful in getting our wellness policies adopted and implemented at most of the activities run by these faith-based organizations.

This year, our healthy nutrition strategy is to install a salad bar into the cafeteria of Trenton Central High School – West Campus.  The salad bar will be stocked and maintained FREE OF CHARGE by the school’s food provider, and will introduce the students to healthier lunch options they haven’t had before.  We have installed salad bars in three (3) other public schools in the area, and have observed much success, so we are very excited to give these healthy options to another school!

We are very thankful to be able to implement our physical activity and nutrition strategies for a second time; stay tuned for updates!