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

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WE’VE GOT HIIIIIIIIIIGH HOPES… in Atlantic City!

Welcome to the new Atlantic City, where health is imperative and change is occurring! After a very productive and positive summer, it is safe to say that a movement is underway. Six of Atlantic City’s corner stores have begun implementing the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative. The owners of La Abaduncia, Cedar Basic Foods, A&B Grocery, K&K Gift and Grocery, and Cedar Market VIII—just to name a few—have taken steps toward improving the quality of life for local residents by providing healthier food options.

As where there have been changes to the physical environment, health based educational and encouragement programs have also been expanded to ensure that true impact occurs. Last year, the YMCA brought its Healthy U Program to two of Atlantic City’s schools: Texas Avenue and Richmond Avenue. This year, the program will be brought to New York Avenue School! This means that more children will have the opportunity to be engaged in physical activity. During out of school time, children will have access to healthier foods at participating corner stores.

So, what are the future plans? Recently, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and Rutgers SnapED department have been discussing expanding education programs by offering health screenings near partnered corner stores and schools. As where this has only been a preliminary discussion, creating a culture of health in Atlantic City looks promising.

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

Keeping the heart healthy one meal at a time

HEART-FRUIT-AND-VEG-COMP_editThrough out this summer our families have been receiving some incredible produce from their CSA shares from Willow Brook Farms.   That is the easy part, unless you ask our farmer Karen, she may have a different thought. The next step for our families has been taking all the ingredients to creating simple meals that are not only flavorful but also packed with necessary vitamins and nutrients.

ChardOne super green our families have been enjoying each and every week is Swiss chard.   This vegetable has large green leaves (similar to spinach and kale) and vibrant colored stalks of red, white and yellow. For some, this vegetable is a new experience as it was for our CSA families.

Since this is a staple produce from Willow Brook Farms we had our families try a couple different recipes for Swiss chard. Find the recipe here. The families agreed, the sooner you cook the chard the better the flavor of the side. Either way, however, this is still a vegetable jam packed with phytonutrients, which have been found to even regulate blood pressure!

Our families were amazed how the food they choose to eat have such an impact on not only their body but their families as well. Finding simplicity in the preparation of fresh ingredients was important to all of our families. They all agree, once they found how simple it was to get a flavorful meal preparation was a snap.

Achievement Unlocked: Expansion of the Healthy Corner Store Network and Healthy U in Atlantic City

Atlantic City is turning over a new leaf! The community has voiced its opinion and the verdict is in—healthy eating and active living are of utmost importance. Six corners stores have signed up to participate in the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative! A&B Food Market, Boom Supermarkets, Cedar Basic Foods  (1700 Baltic Ave.), Cedar Dollar Plus, Cedar Food Market VIII , K&K Gift and Grocery, and La Abundancia have all taken the first step to provide healthier food and beverage options. Staff at the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA will be providing free training to corner store owners on how to properly purchase and display fresh fruits and vegetables, market healthier foods, and conduct product placement seminars.

The Atlantic City School District was not to be outdone by local corner stores. New York Avenue School has signed up to participate in the YMCA’s Healthy U Program. Healthy U is a program aimed at preventing childhood obesity through improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and parental involvement. Results show improvement in key health measurements including increased physical activity and healthier eating.

Moving forward, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA hopes to partner with Atlantic City’s Family Success Centers to expand the effort through community ambassadors. As where work is moving forward, weaving the project throughout the fabric of the community will be key to achieve sustainability.