Different Paths to the Same Destination

In March of 2014, the YMCA of Paterson set out to assist faith-based congregations and communities within the city of Paterson, New Jersey. The goal was to provide physical and nutrition based programming once a week for three hours. Within this time period, activities included Healthy Eating workshops, Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) activities, and general fitness and aquatics programs. With 60.7% of New Jersey’s population being overweight and 23.8% obese, according to the CDC website, the YMCA felt it was necessary to help put a large dent into the obesity epidemic prevalent within the Paterson community.

We began our programming with St. Luke’s Baptist Church and outreached with Wholelife Community Church from the neighboring township of Totowa. 33 individuals were introduced to CATCH and to the importance of food selection and food timing and participated in swimming, basketball, and fitness activities. With the end of the school year and the onset of the hot summer months, scheduled family vacations and weekend trips slowed down attendance.

To not lose momentum, we incorporated the YMCA Summer Camp and its 125 participants into the program. We changed our internal policy by introducing the YMCA’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards. 45 minutes of physical activity for four days out of the week with limited television and computer usage was also implemented. Collaborating with the Paterson Task Force allowed for every student to be provided a meal that consisted of one protein, one fruit, one vegetable, and an occasional starch. Furthermore, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Program spent the summer months teaching the many different aspects of healthy eating such as the My Plate Icon, new to most campers, the importance of family meal time, and how more fruits and vegetables can be included in their diet.

Understanding that healthy eating and increased physical movement must be put into practice, our goal was to introduce, further expand, and activate movement and the importance of a balanced diet. Many children and adults know its importance and the YMCA of Paterson wanted to and accomplished providing the opportunity to physically use the knowledge that has been sitting within them through use of our facility, the improvement of standards, and education.


Let’s Expand To Reduce Expansion!!!

With the community’s increased interest in reducing the expansion of children’s waistlines, the YMCA of Paterson has decided to expand our weekend CATCH activities provided to our Inter-faith community to the Paterson children attending our Summer Camp Program. 125 Paterson youth will attend our facility from July 7th to August 22nd and participate in several activities such as CATCH, martial arts, swimming, and educational classes.

While the kids enjoyed their first week of freedom from teachers and books, the YMCA of Paterson Summer Camp and their counselors participated in orientations, workshops, and trainings. One of the trainings provided was that of ensuring that their groups of children will participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least three of their activity sessions every week during the summer months. The counselors jumped, danced, and ran through activities, having a taste of the fun that the kids will share with each other. If the counselors had a blast, the children are guaranteed to have a great time while they keep their waistlines from expanding!!!

What’s the Elvis Dance???


Although I was barely two years old when the King of Rock and Roll swung his hips for the last time, I have been aware for years of several dances that Elvis Presley performed while singing “Jailhouse Rock.” Performing an Elvis dance for 30 seconds was one of ten mini-activities performed by 23 kids from St. Luke’s Baptist Church as their warm-up. This warm-up was followed by an additional thirty minutes of CATCH activities and requests for rest and water!!!

The Jewels and Brothers from St. Luke’s Baptist Church, varying in ages from 10 years old to 18, visited our YMCA in Paterson for a few hours of physical activity fun and healthy eating education. Rutgers Cooperative Extension provided the diet and nutritional portion of the day and what started as a twenty minute presentation turned into an hour of questions and a positive realization of the importance of food quality and portion control. The physical rest provided by the nutritionist’s workshop allowed for their restoration of energy and had them ready to use the rest of our facility. The majority swam while the rest tested each other’s jump shot on the basketball court for the remainder of their time in our facility.

During their warm up, the kids and teenagers did their wall push-ups, jumping jacks, took their heart rates, but paused when they arrived to the “dance like Elvis for 30 seconds” portion. Some asked what an Elvis dance would look like while others even asked, “Who’s Elvis?” One of the wonderful things about group activities is its flexibility. Instead of 30 seconds of dancing like Elvis…why not “do the dougie?” If the kids can do it…if Michelle Obama can do it…why can’t I???

St. Luke's Parachute

Stronger, Healthier, Longer

One of the missions of the YMCA of Paterson is to introduce the importance of consistent healthy eating habits and increased physical activity throughout the Paterson Community through the programs offered at our facility. We have changed our internal policy and have introduced the YMCA’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards within our afterschool program.

The students enrolled in our Afterschool Program have been introduced to 45 minutes of physical activity for four days out of the week. The kids enjoy constant movement through participation in swim lessons and recreational swim, basic stretching, striking, and kicking techniques in our martial arts program, practicing basic golf swings and putting in our First Tee Golfing Program, and introduction to various sports in our Pick-A-Sport Club. Television and computer usage has been severely limited in order to allow for increased physical movement.

Any health program is incomplete without improved eating habits education. The YMCA of Paterson Family Services Center has introduced the importance of balanced meals through their collaboration with the Paterson Task Force. The Task Force provides every student with a meal that consists of one protein, one fruit, one vegetable, and an occasional starch. Water is always accessible to the children and an option of low-fat milk or fruit juice is provided.

With the obesity epidemic racing through our children’s lives, every opportunity should be taken to improve the livelihood of our community for a healthier, longer-lasting future.

We Help You, You Help Us

What started off as a goal assisting faith-based congregations and communities within the City of Paterson, has sprung into outreach into at least one of our neighboring cities. This past Saturday, we were delighted to host St. Luke’s Baptist Church of Paterson and Wholelife Community Church of Totowa, New Jersey. We presented CATCH-based activities and spoke about the importance of food selection and food timing.

Meeting people from these faith-based communities has also given the YMCA of Paterson the opportunity to connect with individuals with different talents and the opportunity for these talents to be displayed and, in turn, enhance the experience provided at our facility. We met an instructor with years of Mixed Martial Arts experience, visiting us from Wholelife Community Church. Hopefully, this new relationship will introduce a mini, non-contact, martial arts conditioning class to the activities provided on Saturdays.

The connections made during our nutritional and physical activity outreach has helped introduce additional pathways into other communities and among people with different talents. Paterson is excited to see how much more we can help people, just as much as how these people may help us!!!