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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Safe Cycling for Healthy Neighborhoods

Scouts groupwinners w staff

Paul Mickiewicz, Executive Director of the Wellness Center Branch is leading this program.
The main objective is to get more people riding bicycles for fun, fitness and as a viable, healthy form of transportation. Empowering people through hands on learning to build skills and awareness while experiencing the joy of riding a bicycle, is how we plan on accomplishing this.
Many people would love to ride a bicycle more but are fearful of riding on their own neighborhood streets because of safety concerns. Establishing a Safe Cycling curriculum for children and families will increase the number of people who feel comfortable riding their bikes. As more people ride, the safer it gets for everyone, which leads to more people riding. A bicycle and pedestrian friendly environment promotes more walking and biking for short trips around town and helps to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
In cooperation with local schools we have already started to offer a variety of Safe Cycling classes which address various levels and groups. We are developing partnerships with surrounding school districts, PTA’s, Scouts, Meadowlink and advocacy group Union County Bike Works.
There are Learn To Ride classes which teach people simply how to balance and pedal a bike. This is obviously the first step and using the balance first method can provides a simple, low stress method for learning. Ride Rodeo classes are designed for kids who may be able to balance and pedal their bike, but lack awareness for their surroundings and need to develop their bike handling skills. A series of progressively challenging bike handling skills are presented and practiced, developing the confidence of those riding as they become more capable of handling emergency stops, predictable straight line riding, (no wobbles), scanning, signaling, turning, intersections and more. Community Rides, start with parking lot drills to assess riding skills and then venture out onto open roads to properly apply “the rules of the road” to navigating a bicycle among other vehicles. The strategies are essentially the same. Fix A Flat empowers people to get over their limiting fear of getting stuck with a flat tire while out on a ride. Traffic Skills 101 is a comprehensive class which incorporates virtually all the above and goes into more depth in each of the topics.
Fear is a major limiting factor for many people who would prefer to ride their bike. Our programs will build skills and confidence for people of all ages and allow them to experience the true joy of riding a bicycle and that “It’s almost always better by bike!”

Allen at Grace Rodeochopper

North Plainfield SRTS Awards and Playground Expansion Project Completed!

Opening Slide

Opening Slide

 

SRTS Awards 1

SRTS Awards 1

SRTS Awards 2

SRTS Awards 2

Awards 4

Awards 4

 

Agenda

Agenda

 

Existing Playground Before

Existing Playground

New equip in static

New equip in static

 

New playground

New playground

Back playground

Back playground

New Playground 3

New Playground 3

New Playground 4

New Playground 4

On June 10th,the North Plainfield Safe Routes to School Committee along with representatives from the NJ Department of Transportation, North Plainfield Board of Education and Modell’s Sporting Goods held our annual Safe Routes to School awards ceremony at Stony Brook School. At the event, all of our local crossing guards were recognized for their outstanding service to the community and each one was presented with a framed certificate of appreciation. We would once again like to thank all of our crossing guards for all they do to keep the students of North Plainfield safe on their way to and from school each day.

After the crossing guard awards concluded, we presented the Modell’s Miles that Matter: Walk to the Shore Challenge Awards. The Miles that Matter program was established to encourage K-8 students to walk-to-school on a more frequent basis to improve physical activity and reduce traffic congestion near our schools. For each day that a student walked, they receive a half-mile credit along our predetermined route from North Plainfield to Island Beach State Park.  Credits were tabulated on a monthly and participating students received certificates of recognition for each milestone accomplished and a place of honor on the school wide tracking chart. At year-end, the top three finishers at Somerset, West End, East End, and Stony Brook were recognized with a framed certificate and an invitation to attend an upcoming Somerset Patriots baseball game. Due to the generous support of Modell’s Sporting Goods, we were also able to raffle off one $50 Modell’s gift cards to the top-15 finishers at each school. We would once again like to thank Modell’s for all their program support this year. For our Walk Across America Challenge students at our four participating schools walked a combined 5,273 miles exceeding our original goal of 3,814 mile goal from Bangor, Maine to San Francisco, CA, nice work students! 

During our event, we also presented three Distinguished Service Awards to North Plainfield Mayor Giordano, Stony Brook Principal Cathy Kobylarz, and NPBOE Business Administrator Don Sternberg, all of whom have made significant contributions to the success of our program over the last four years. Without their tireless and continual support none of our current accomplishments would have been possible. The NPSRTS Committee also recognized the generous support of our three primary financial sponsors: NJ Department of Transportation, Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs; NJ Department of Health, Office of Nutrition & Fitness, Shaping NJ Partnership; Modell’s Sporting Goods our chief corporate sponsor. Thanks you again for supporting the work of this outstanding program.

Our event concluded with the NJDOH-Shaping NJ joint groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting for the Stony Brook Playground Expansion Project. Due to the outstanding work of Ed Ostroff, the Director of Operations and Auxiliary Services for NPBOE, we were able to push up the project completion date from September 3rd to June 10th. This means that our children are now able to enjoy the expanded playground equipment through the end of the school year and over the entire summer. Ed, we are so grateful for all you did to move up the completion date and to get this project done in record time. Congratulations to you, your team, and your contract partners.

Finally, we especially want to thank Karin Mille NJDOH, Office of Nutrition and Fitness, Shaping NJ Partnership; Dr. Katherine Kraft National Coalition Director from America Walks; and everyone associated with the Shaping NJ Partnership for all their support and guidance during the planning, funding, and construction process. We did it! Thanks again.

Surveying Kids About Transportation in Trenton

In our first blog, we explained that we are working with the Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) to supplement the ShapingNJ mini-grant.  As part of the data collection, VTC provided us with a tally sheet so that teachers can record how children travel to and from the three target schools. If most of them are driven, the researchers might suggest building a safe drop-off loop. However, if most students walk, then better crosswalks, flashing lights, and traffic patterns could be recommended.

VTC provided valuable insight into how data can often get confused when the respondents are young children.  Kindergarten and first graders think concretely. When asked “Did you walk to school today?” they may answer “yes” because they walked from the parking lot to their classroom after being dropped off in a car. Similarly, few children are acquainted with the term “carpool”, and can get confused; more simply it can be explained as “driving to school with other people”. VTC offered the following suggestions for clarifying the various modes of transportation when speaking with children:

  • Walking
    “Did you walk all the way from your house to school?” “Will you be walking from school all the way to your house?”
  • Driving
    “Did someone drive you to the school parking lot?”
  • Carpooling
    “When you came to school this morning, did you ride in a car with other kids who do not live in your house?” “When you go home today, will other kids in the car go to different houses?”
  • Biking
    “Did you ride your bike to school this morning? Is your bike parked inside the school/on a rack in the school parking lot? Will you ride your bike home today, or will someone put it in the car and drive you home.”

School principals were grateful to have the suggestions compiled into a one-page instruction sheet that was passed out to teachers. Monument school was the first and we are awaiting the completed surveys from Wilson and Hedgepeth. We will be putting the numbers to work as soon as the walking audits are completed in May and use the information to guide the selection of mini routes around the schools.