The Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle will continue!

The YES Program of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen is wrapping up its last month of the Shaping NJ grant funding. We can’t believe it is that time already!

The program and community of New Brunswick has blossomed from the knowledge gained around the importance of health, fitness, and nutrition. The partnerships developed over the past nine months have been outstanding and the families have much to be thankful for.

The YES Program of Catholic Charities has been able to provide a wealth of resources and information to the families and children through the many partnerships that we have developed as well as many special activities and events. From our Health Fair to our monthly workshops to our trip to the Farmers Market, the families of New Brunswick have gained education and involvement on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. This project has strengthened some of our previous relationships as well as provided the opportunity to connect to new partners. It additionally enhanced the teamwork at the YES Program with staff from all levels. Many of the staff are already thinking about what the program can do with a new funding opportunity!

As the program wraps up the grant we look back at some of our highlights:

*Expanded partnerships and collaborations with the New Brunswick Food Corps, Rutgers Cooperative Extension (SNAP Ed), and the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market to name only a few

*Over 100 people and 65 families in attendance at our Healthy Families, Healthy Communities fair on April 11, 2015

*Healthy Eating and Physical Activity project with the YMCA

*Family workshops offered on a variety of health, fitness, and nutrition topics

*Planting new flowers and vegetables in our garden with our partners from Food Corps

*Weekly healthy eating education, activities, and supplies for 100 New Brunswick preschool children (“Color Me Healthy”)

*Father’s Day healthy breakfast

*Family Fitness Day

*Field trip to the New Brunswick Farmer’s Market

*Zumba classes for staff, parents, and children

*Landscape Assessment completed with Food Corps to assess and improve the overall school environment focused on health and wellness

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Recent Zumba classes offered to children, staff, and families of New Brunswick are one of the many activities offered as we wrap up the funding and prepare for our presentation at the September grantee meeting. The YES Program of Catholic Charities looks forward to our involvement in the gallery walk to showcase our highlights and experiences on September 25th!

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Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

Salem County hosted its annual fair August 4-7. Our true county fair draws thousands of visitors over a four-day run. The Salem County fair is unique, its an agricultural fair with activities for everyone – pig scramble, dog show, skillet throwing contest, tractor pulls, horse show, 4H displays, best of show for fruits, veggies, and livestock. The fair is a showcase of what of our county is!

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With the large number of visitors to the fair, we decided to target the crowd with a healthy lifestyle display. Our fair booth hosted free blood pressure screenings, apples, oranges, jump ropes, healthy cookbooks and educational information. The biggest hit of our booth was the “Eat This, Exercise That” and “Rethink Your Drink” displays.

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The “Eat This, Exercise That” display showed how in the past 20 years our portion sizes have grown and how much exercise it would take to burn off the calories. The kids were surprised that to burn off that chocolate chip cookie, they would have to wash a car for 1 hour and 20 minutes. The “Rethink Your Drink” display showed the sugar content of popular drinks.

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Free Apples and Oranges!

To reinforce the “Rethink your Drink” display, we had a sugar guessing game. Everyone was invited to guess how many teaspoons of sugar was in their drink.  The bags of sugar were a great hands on aid for the kids and parents to get a real visual of what they are drinking! Everyone was surprised by the amounts of sugar and walked away rethinking their drinks.

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Sierra Mist 29 grams of sugar = 7 teaspoons of sugar Brisk Ice Tea 20 grams of sugar = 5 teaspoons of sugar

The fair was a success!

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If you want to read more about our unique county fair, follow the link: http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2015/08/5_reasons_the_salem_county_fair_remains_such_a_pop.html

Maintaining Healthy Connections in New Brunswick!

The YES Program of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen continues to make healthy connections with the families and children in New Brunswick. As the summer is upon us, the program continues to plan multiple activities focused around health and nutrition. In June, the program offered a Father’s Day healthy breakfast and nutrition activities in partnership with the New Brunswick Food Corps.

Supplies for garden and Farmer’s Market activities were purchased as part of the summer program offered to over 100 children in July and August at the Catholic Charities YES Program. Additionally, our garden continues to grow and flourish as we water and nurture our plants and flowers.

The YES Program continues to plan a Family Fitness Fun Night in July which will include a Zumba class as well as a field trip to the local Farmer’s Market this summer. Additional cooking classes will be provided towards the fall in collaboration with Elijah’s Promise.

Feedback from community partners and families continues to show positive involvement in the projects and accomplishments in educating the community of New Brunswick on the importance of health and nutrition.

Here is one comment:

“The parents like learning about ways to eat healthier for them and their children and they found out some nutritional facts they never knew, which was good.”

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Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. ~Henry Ford

No plan B or C needed. No crushed stone.  No alternate layout. The walking path can proceed forward as planned.  The report from our partners in the Engineers Department showed that the planned expansion of the walking path is not in wetlands.  Thank you Salem County Engineers Department for the excellent news!

On Monday June 8th,  Mary Blithe Health Educator/Public Health Nurse and community partner Steven Schalick Supervisor of Salem County Public Works had a meeting at the Salem County Recreation Park to discuss the expansion of the path. We walked the path, discussed the timeline, and took a selfie.

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Selfie with Mary Blithe Health Educator/Public Health Nurse and community partner Steven Schalick Supervisor of Salem County Public Works

During our meeting, Facilities Management employees were doing a clean up at the park and securing the trash receptacles to the fence. The park is hosting a lot of softball and soccer games this time of year. Construction of the path will begin July 1st. The exercise equipment and bike rack will be installed when received from the vendor.

Steven Schalick Supervisor of Salem County Public Works

Steven Schalick Supervisor of Salem County Public Works

It’s great to see the plans are moving forward. The anticipation from the community is building. The Move Yourself! Salem County walking club is ready to use the expanded path.Since, the beginning of the year we have had over a dozen walks on the existing path.  A new partnership with Gretchen Kilgore, Exercise Physiologist at Fox Rehabilitation, in the Memorial Hospital of Salem County provides the walking group with warm up and cool down exercises at our walks. We can’t wait to incorporate the exercise equipment into the routine.

June 2015 Walk Schedule

Move Yourself! Salem County Walk N Talk Flyer

Shaping New Brunswick in Every Way!

The YES Program of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen continues to build partnerships throughout this project that have significantly improved our program and the surrounding community. While we wrapped up our Health Fair on April 11th, the programs continue to implement additional projects supporting the children and families of New Brunswick.

Our collaboration with the New Brunswick Food Corps continues with weekly classes for the preschool children on cooking, gardening, and nutrition education. Additionally, the school age program continues its partnership with the New Brunswick 4-H on nutrition and healthy eating. Additionally, the YES School Age Program began their relationship with the YMCA on their Healthy Eating and Physical Activity project/training. The program received a site visit and will continue to work with the YMCA staff to improve the program around the topics of healthy eating and activities. Family workshops were also offered on portion sizes and healthy breakfast options.

Our garden will be prepared soon with support from the New Brunswick Food Corps. The children will be planting carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and sunflowers with the help of adults.  They are excited to begin this project.

These collaborations and new relationships have been a wonderful addition to our program and support to our families. Without the support of the grant, they may not have been possible. We have found very few challenges during this project and have been able to foster partnerships that we hope will continue in the future.

On another note, the YES Program just recently was able to add new playground equipment offering additional physical opportunities for the preschool and school age children. The staff and children are excited for this new addition! Check out our pictures!YESPlaygroundCompletePic3YESPlaygroundCompletePic1