If you build it, they will come

The expansion of the walking path at the Salem County Recreation Park is complete! The expanded path is a half of mile long and ADA complaint. It loops around softball and soccer fields along a wooded tree line. Walkers have been out in full force enjoying the expanded walking path.

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The installation of two exercise stations, a bike rack, and marker signs are expected to be installed in the beginning of October. Improvements to the parks such as benches, shrubs, trees, and a fence are in the future plans for this park. Position of equipment

Improving our parks will provide physical activity opportunities and can help people of all ages lead a more active lifestyle. According to the countyhealthrankings.org, in Salem County only 82 percent of the population has adequate access to exercise opportunities.  The NJ state average is 96 percent and the US top performers are at 92 percent. Investing in our parks and open space is an investment in our community.

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In 2015, Salem County overall health ranking improved #18 out of 21 NJ counties.  A small improvement from the 2014  ranking of #19. We will take it! Thank you Shaping NJ and the other organizations that invest in improving the health of Salem County.

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The Salem County Health Department is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles.

PUMPED UP AND READY FOR MORE!

OH WHAT A FEELING!

I am writing this blog on such a high!  Just back from our Shaping Elizabeth Work Group Meeting.

I wish I could pass the good vibes that I am feeling through the blog.  The conversations, honesty, successes and commitment that were shared were both rewarding and exhilarating.

At the meeting the Playstreets Team and Corner Store Team shared their success, challenges, plans for the future and a call for action with the group through pictures, anecdotes, data and stories.  Below is a link to lessons learned and future planning for our playstreets initiative.  Next year bigger and better is already in planning stages.  Healthy Stores is plugging along and 2 organizations signed on to support the project with stores in their area that they have relationships with.  Dates were set to make those connections.

We also shared our nutrition education program “Eat Healthy, Be Active Community Workshops” coming this fall.  A nutritionist will be hired next week and organization has already signed up to provide space and most importantly people to attend.  This program is funded through The Elizabethtown Healthcare Grant.

In 9 months we have formed “working collaborations” not just paper collaborations that benefited the community.  Playstreets brought together City of Elizabeth, The Gateway Family YMCA, 3 council people, 1 Freeholder, WellCare Inc., Union County Community Food Bank, City of Elizabeth Health Department and several organizations in participation, in-kind support and donations Sept WG DAC 2 Sept WG DAC 4

Shaping Elizabeth Partners understanding how to work better together.

Shaping Elizabeth Partners understanding how to work better together.

Impacting over 350 children and adults with 3 play streets.  In addition we feel we can use the Playstreets events as a model of engagement and a change agent for the community.

Currently we have 1 Corner Store Signed up and 2 more in the works.  We also received a grant from the Food Trust to be able to supply nutrition education, taste testings and equipment to committed owners.

We shared an exercise from our Robert Wood Johnson Center for Creative Leadership Training on Direction, Commitment and Alignment.  The discussion that followed and the information from the team was inspiring and will help set future direction.

My final thought comes from one of our participants, I am paraphrasing: She stated that Shaping Elizabeth was her community team of choice to attend – she went on to say – the spirit of collaboration, the support for each other and the meeting organization was valued by her and her organization.

What could be better than that! Can You Feel it!

Shaping Elizabeth Celebrating Playstreets Lesson Learned

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!

Walking toward a healthier you

The grant cycle may be coming to an DSC_0314end but the life-changing habits formed continue on. We held a Kick-off Walk of our Fit-Trail system last weekend. Even through the raindrops we had participants using the system. The additions to the current walking path offer participants a full body workout while they make their way around the park. DSC_0325Hardyston Township did an amazing job installing the system throughout their Wheatsworth Park, which is now a featured park in Sussex County. For our Kick-off Walk we brought a trainer from the Y to help educate participants in proper technique as well as modifications for the different stations. Moms or dads waiting for their children at soccer/football practice, active adults meeting up or a quick workout during a lunch break. The flexibility of the system can suit all workout needs.

We have seen a lifestyle change in our CSA recipient families. When the fields were ready with fresh vegetables and produce our families were a bit apprehensive. They hadn’t ever seen Swiss chard, let alone know how to cook with it. The most they knew to do with a tomato was slice it but most were not big fans of the flavor. With the guidance from the Y and simple recipes to follow the families began learning how easy preparation could be with fresh produce. They have had an entire growing season to learn about different vegetables, mushrooms and other produce. The families find themselves shopping the outer aisles of the grocery store. Not afraid to pick up a fresh vegetable. They are now armed with the knowledge of preparation and the reward of eating healthy. HEART-FRUIT-AND-VEG-COMP_edit

Visit the Elevator, WALK the STAIRS

If you’ve had the pleasure of entering Bloomfield’s municipal building, you will notice something a bit different – signs around the elevators encouraging folks to take the stairs and burn a few extra calories.  Recently, Michael Hodges, the Health Educator, and Gail Gutierrez, the Wellness Coach, met with all of the department heads from the Township of Bloomfield to inform them of the new initiative – Take The Stairs.

In addition to informing the directors and gaining their buy in, the team also wanted to explain why physical activity is so important, especially for those with sedentary office jobs. For instance, did you know that even if you exercise, long periods of sitting are associated with:

  • Mental Fatigue
  • Poor Circulation and Heart Disease
  • Bone Loss and Poor Posture
  • Slow Metabolism and Insulin Problems

With the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their “StairWELL to Better Health” we found these great motivational signs that we have posted throughout the municipal building.

Decision prompts at the elevator

Supporting physical activity for Bloomfield.

Supporting physical activity for Bloomfield.

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Encouraging messages in the Stairwell

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More Messaging by the Elevator

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Reminders by the vending machines.

Reminders by the vending machines.

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Closer look of vending machine reminders

In addition to taking the stairs, other suggestions for office workers include:

  • standing when speaking on the phone.
  • walking to a colleague’s desk in lieu of e-mail or phone.
  • setting reminders on your computer or phone to take a break from sitting every 1-2 hours.

With these signs and the photos from The Historical Society of Bloomfield http://bloomfieldhistorical.org  that we’ll be displaying in the stairwells, we hope to encourage employees and any visitors to the municipal building, who are able, to get that body moving and take the stairs.  We’d love to know what you all think.  Give us a holler by commenting or liking the blog, and learn more about our programs at http://www.bloomfieldtwpnj.com/health-human-services/ 

Interested in supporting your very own mini-campaign to encourage more activity at your workplace? If so, check out the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/hwi/toolkits/stairwell/index.htm for some helpful resources and ideas.