Growing Our Way Toward Fitness

GEF-CSA-80The produce is in! The produce is in!! Willow Brook Farms has announced that the crop has come in and we will be distributing farm fresh produce for our three families. The fresh produce will allow our families to enjoy all the benefits of healthy eating while learning new ways to incorporate the vegetables into their meal planning. We are very excited for this kickoff to the Willow Brook Farms CSA and all the families have been invited to a reception this Saturday at the farm to meet with the farmers and see the inner workings of what it takes to get the produce to their tables.

Fit Trail 2 StretchWe are making strides in securing a Fit-Trail outdoor exercise system to be installed at Wheatsworth Park in collaboration with Hardyston Township. This exercise system contains instructional signs and exercise equipment designed for the novice wellness seeker or well conditioned athlete.   The exercises, done in a circuit, include a warm up and cool down section, which includes the distance walked or jogged between exercise stations.Fit trail1 Family

We also recently collaborated with the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce volunteering at their Off the Beaten Track 5K trail run and wellness event. This event brought runners over some of the beautiful trails of Sussex County. One goal of the event was to increase awareness of the many trails Sussex County has to offer.

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Let’s P.L.A.A.Y!! Swing Set Ground Breaking! National Get Outdoors Day! Saturday, June 13, 2015

Healthy Parks, Healthy People: On Saturday, June 13, 2015 National Get Outdoors Day the Willingboro Recreation & Parks Department hosted a day of events encouraging healthy, active outdoor recreation opportunities and a day of fun in the sun!

The event partners included: Burlington County Community Action Program Head Start/Early Head Start; Pi Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated; G3 Health & Fitness; Burlington County Health Department; Rita Water Ice; Chef Delilah Winder – Food Network Winner and Chef Dante Foggy – Food Network Teen Chopped Winner

The highlight of this day was the Swing Set Playground Ground Breaking Ceremony!

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Swing Set Ground Breaking holding the shovels from left to right: Mr. Nathaniel Anderson, Deputy Mayor of Willingboro; Cynthia Carpenter, Founder and President of G3 Health & Fitness; Philippa Chaplain, President of Pi Mu Omega Chapter of AKA Sorority Incorporated.

Ground Breaking Picture above also includes from left to right:  Mr. Kendall Brunson, Willingboro Recreation and Parks Department Supervisor; Willingboro Recreation & Parks Staff; Mrs. Linda Williams-Barnes, BCCAP Head Start/Early Head Start Director; BCCAP Head Start/Early Head Start Staff; Victoria Goyins and G3 Health & Fitness Staff and officers and members of Pi Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.

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The Burlington County Sheriff Department,YMCA, Burlington County WIC, Family Success Center of Burlington County, Fire Department; SNAP –Ed Rutgers Cooperative Extension Program, Rancocas Nature Center, Burlington, Camden Health and Wellness Coalition and other community organization shared and provided information on health, fitness, learning, summer fun, bike safety and wellness.

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The day of events included: 9 AM Fishing Derby – Mill Creek Park, Willingboro, NJ; 10 AM Healthy Fun Walk – Mill Creek Park, Willingboro, NJ; 10 AM Car Show – JF Kennedy Center, Willingboro, NJ; 11 AM Millcreek Park Swing Set Playground Ground Breaking Ceremony with Deputy Mayor of Willingboro; 11 AM Kids Health Fun Day – Millcreek Park, Willingboro, NJ; 11:30 AM Healthy Cooking Demo with Chef Delilah Winder & Chef Dante Foggy – Food Network Winners; 12 noon – Tennis Fun – Millcreek Park, Willingboro, NJ and Outdoor Movie Night at Dusk – JF Kennedy Center.

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Next steps include the installation of the new swing set, ribbon cutting ceremony and the creation of a short DVD promoting walking for all ages.  Continued team meetings and evaluation of June 13, 2015 event in order to prepare for 2016 National Get Outdoors Day. P.L.A.A.Y. grant team meetings regarding 2015 – 2016 community goals to support a culture of health and address policies focused on community health, fitness, nutrition and wellness.

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

“Don’t let the fear of falling keep you from flying”

Our projected expansion of the walking path has been stalled by wetlands. Salem County features more than 34,000 acres of meadow and marshland including tidal and freshwater wetlands. The question of wetlands was raised from the “wet” condition  of the surveyed areas of the proposed walking path.  We are currently working with the engineers of the Salem County to have a official inspection of the land. We may need to apply for special permit to build on the protected area.  Unfortunately, the special permit process is slow and we may need to rework the plan.

The planned walking path is along the tree line of the park. It’s very scenic and beautiful.  The ideal location to walk and take in nature. According to the wetland map the wetlands begin in the tree line the tree line and the regulations require a 50 foot buffer zone. A visit to the park is planned for next week to scout out an alternative location to lay the walking path. Ideas for the  layout of the path are looping around the softball fields and soccer fields.

Our partners have been great with helping the Salem County Health Department with these challenges. We are proceeding forward with the expansion plans despite the wetland issues. Construction  of the path is planned to begin in June while the weather is still ideal to lay the asphalt. The bike racks and exercise equipment are expected to be delivered in July.

Positive press announcing our grant award.

Positive press announcing our grant award.

Asbury Park Gets Active and Healthier!

Active Asbury pedometer photoAsbury Park School Health Council Accomplishments

In just six short months, Action for Fitness in Monmouth County has worked with our committed partners to start two School Health Councils in the Asbury Park elementary schools.  Together with our key partners, the Asbury Park School District, the YMCA and Meridian Healthcare, we are developing strategies and methods to teach students the importance of eating healthier foods and moving more everyday, we are creating effective policy and environmental change in the Bradley and Thurgood Marshall schools, and we are seeking to motivate and empower the school staff to be effective role models who make a difference in the lives of their students and the community of Asbury Park.

Bradley School 4th graders learn to roller skate

Bradley School 4th graders learn to roller skate

We have:

  • Submitted a Party Policy change that has been approved by both  SHCs and needs final approval by the District Board of Education.  The policy requires all school parties to adhere to the District nutrition guidelines which follow NJDOH guidelines. Additionally, a template for parties that  promotes  small bite-size portions and more fresh fruits and vegetables and the elimination of foods that have sugar as primary ingredient.
  • Surveyed more than 1,000 PK-4th grade students at both schools to find out what they know about nutrition & physical activity
  • Evaluated current district Physical Activity policies and suggested changes that will support our mission
  •  hopscotch fitness at Thurgood  4  hopscotch fitness program at Thurgood 6
  • Fostered an environment that lets the students know that physical activity is important for them to live long and healthy lives by starting/promoting:
    • rollerskating classes (more than 500 students skated in P.E.)
    • Moving and Grooving with Hopscotch program for K-2 students at one school
    • pilot walking programs at both schools
    • a Family Fitness Activity for students, staff and families to do fun cardio exercises together afterschool
    • a visual media/TV system that provides fitness reminders and eating tips daily to staff and students in a central school location
    • monthly articles in newsletter re nutrition and physical activity

Thurgood Container planting

  • Promoted and utilized evidence-based initiatives and educational programs to teach kids about the importance of good nutrition, 60 minutes of daily physical activity, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables such as
      • the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables grant,
      • Kid Power and Operation Lunchline 3D Musical
      • creating an edible raised bed vegetable garden at one school
      • donating a peach tree/strawberry plants to the PK and K classes at both schools to teach the kids how to grow healthy food and let them taste the fruits of their labor

     

  • encouraged Sodexo Food Services to look at the Smart Lunchroom program and asked them to highlight fruits and veggies for kids to taste
  • Thurgood peach tree plant

For more info, contact Lisa Lee, School Health Council Program Coordinator at 732-431-7456 or Lisa.Lee@co.monmouth.nj.us.