Home | Contact Us

Community News and Media

Health and Wellness Expands to Additional Camden City Parks

Y_WebPhoto1This summer, children in East Camden will be able to play and engage in structured activities at four Camden parks, thanks to the addition of Stockton Park to the summertime programs run by the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties from June 30 through August 29. “We are thrilled to extend this popular program to another neighborhood park,” says Valeria Galarza, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Camden (NJPHK-Camden) project manager. “The partnership has always advocated for the use of city parks, and working closely with the city of Camden, the YMCA was able to lead this program to continue its growth within the community.” NJPHK-Camden is also working with other organizations to present structured activities in city parks. Activities offered may include arts and crafts; clinics to teach and enhance skills in soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball and field hockey; and CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health), a YMCA program designed to teach children that eating healthy and being physically active every day can be fun.

It Takes All Hands on Deck to Curb Childhood Obesity

handsondeckThe beginnings of what would become an obesity “tsunami” in the U.S. tracks back to 1982 according to Dr. Nwando Anyaoku, MD, FAAP, director of General Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, and co-chair of New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Newark (NJPHK-Newark). By 2010, 44 percent of children ages 3 to 19 in Newark, NJ had a body mass index (BMI) of 44.2 percent, putting them at risk for obesity and in grave danger of developing serious illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes and pulmonary disease, normally associated with older adults.

Dr. Anyaoku has dedicated her career to helping families address childhood obesity through healthy lifestyle choices. In 2013, she was an early champion of “Let’s Move in the Clinic and Community!”, a healthy lifestyle toolkit designed to help health care providers talk with patients and families about setting small, achievable nutrition and physical activity goals.

The New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, is partnering with NJPHK-Newark to bring the “Let’s Move in the Clinic and Community!” obesity prevention program to Newark-based pediatric providers and their staff. The joint effort provides practices with the training and tools to: 1) strengthen quality improvement efforts related to obesity prevention and intervention within the context of the patient centered medical home, and 2) equip healthcare providers with tools to become policy advocates to improve the health of their communities, beyond the walls of their office.

In connection with “Let’s Move in the Clinic and Community!” Dr. Anyaoku conducted a webinar for healthcare providers on May 22, 2014 to further educate participants about obesity rates and trends in the US and NJ, and the principles of nutrition and physical activity for children and adolescents. The webinar also addressed using BMI to measure overweight and obesity, starting at age two, and providing age appropriate guidance and messaging related to physical activity related to physical activity and access to healthy foods.

Dr. Anyaoku called on healthcare providers to start talking to parents early about nutrition, healthy eating, and an active lifestyle. Between 12 and 24 months, children assume the eating habits of the family, so it’s crucial for adults to understand portion control and be aware of what constitutes fruits and vegetables. “French fries are the most common vegetable in the U.S.,” Dr. Anyaoku observed, noting the need for education. She explained that children should not drink juice before they are six months old and thereafter; only 100% fruit juice. She also noted that all screen time should be limited, not just time watching TV.

In 2013, the CDC reported a decrease in obesity rates among young children from lower-income families in 19 states, including New Jersey. Dr. Anyaoku believes that we have the power to reverse the trends. “It takes all hands on deck; and when patients and their families have the tools for better choices, it makes a difference,” she concluded.

Thought Leadership on Open Streets

CicloviaWhen 4,000+ residents took to the streets during the first New Brunswick Ciclovia on October 6, 2013 they likely did not realize that opening a seven-mile loop of city streets to meet neighbors, bike, skateboard, dance, enjoy music, and play took nine months of concerted planning and organizing on the part of a diverse partnership of committed leaders representing 30 community organizations and the city of New Brunswick.

What was learned from New Brunswick’s successful first Ciclovia was incorporated into the planning for Ciclovia events scheduled throughout 2014, and also provided a framework for other cities and towns that want to give their streets back to the residents for physical activities and promote social cohesion and integration.

The first of three 2014 Ciclovia’s took place on May 4th, with even more participants than the initial one. “We also expanded to 12 activity stations throughout the route and greater and more sponsorship support,” stated Jaymie Santiago, project manager of New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-New Brunswick, who has been involved with Ciclovia from the start. The remaining year events are scheduled for July 12 and October 12, 2014.

“Our success in New Brunswick combined with our extensive work evaluating Ciclovia has provided valuable insight and best practices for how to organize and promote open streets in a community.Part of our strategic framework for Ciclovia is to share what we’ve learned and help other communities realize the same benefits.”

Cicolvia is an international phenomenon that began in Bogotá, Columbia in the 1980s and has spread to countries as diverse as Australia, Ecuador, Canada, Israel and Argentina. Santiago traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to observe and learn from that city’s Ciclovia in January, in preparation for his involvement in the Open Streets National Summit in Los Angeles this past April.

“In New Brunswick, Ciclovia took root thanks to participants of the New Brunswick Tomorrow (NBT) sponsored program, Leadership Tomorrow in 2012,” Santiago explained. “Their focus was on addressing some of the needs in distressed neighborhoods.” The Ciclovia concept came from their review of the 2012 Eagleton survey conducted in New Brunswick.

The Leadership Tomorrow group established a community enterprise, representing a wide array of expertise, including community organizing, planning and development; corporate and local businesses; community health and obesity prevention advocates; arts and culture groups; faith communities; school-based communities; law enforcement; and bike and walk activists. The Ciclovia Advisory, Logistics, Programming and Marketing Committees were established, comprising more than 30 community organizations and institutions, to guide the planning and tactical execution of the event and pre-event activities.

“By including representatives from different communities and organizations focusing on various aspects of the community, the committees were able to bring the diverse needs of the community residents into the planning process,” Santiago explained

New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-New Brunswick underwrote the costs associated with the logo, graphic arts materials, the website and other promotional materials for New Brunswick’s Ciclovia. Also, the NJPHK-NB guided the initiative at the onset, establishing an infrastructure that supported the working committees.

The goals of New Brunswick Tomorrow, as part of Ciclovia are: 1) to develop and coordinate a comprehensive outreach strategy with a focus on sustaining the effort beyond the first scheduled Ciclovia; and, 2) to create a community outreach infrastructure that will assist in meeting the desired goals of fostering a culture of health, wellness and active living in the city of New Brunswick.

Through the support and vision of Mayor James Cahill, the New Brunswick Ciclovia Advisory Committee views this initiative as part of the city’s ongoing efforts to improve the health and wellness for all New Brunswick residents. Moreover, the mayor’s expressed goal is to host the remaining two Ciclovias for 2014 and monthly Ciclovias thereafter. “Through our community partners, we envision Ciclovia to be part of the fabric of the city where a culture of health and wellness is created. Ultimately, Ciclovia not only assists city residents to lead active, healthier lifestyles, but also strengthens community pride,” Santiago said.

New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative Set to Expand Following Statewide WIC Trainings

wicThe NJ Department of Health (DOH) Chronic Disease unit and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program recently collaborated to increase access to healthier foods in small stores throughout New Jersey. Supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the organizations worked with The Food Trust to create and execute a series of 20 bilingual training sessions that reached all WIC authorized vendors in the state. The trainings took place from April to June 2014 as part of an interactive training session that takes place once every three years in conjunction with NJ WIC programming. Beginning June 1, 2014, New Jersey WIC instituted a new policy requiring all WIC-authorized stores to stock more fresh fruits and vegetables.

“With this new policy going into effect, the training provided us a great opportunity to state the business case for the promotion of healthy retail sales, showcasing how store owners can maintain profits while selling healthier, more nutritious items,” said Stephanie Weiss, senior associate,The Food Trust.

The training sessions focused on several technical assistance modules, including: selecting healthy product inventory, buying and handling fresh produce, pricing and promotions, and in-store marketing strategies to promote healthy products. Attendees received a manual entitled – “Sell Healthy! Guide – Learn How to Sell Healthy Foods, Increase Sales and Attract More Customers” and were directed to including the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative, New Jersey Food Access Initiative, Healthy Food Access Portal, and how to source local New Jersey produce.

Attendees took part in a voluntary survey to assess their reactions to the training and concerns regarding selling fresh fruits and vegetables in their stores. Key outcomes included:

  • Most respondents desired training in the areas of: educating consumers, business management/planning, and funding/financing operations.
  • Top concerns about stocking fresh fruit and vegetables for small stores included waste/spoilage, marketing and profitability.
  • 60% of small stores stocked fewer than 10 varieties of fresh products.
  • 186 stores that completed the training expressed interest in joining or learning more about becoming a member of the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative.

“Small store owners were very enthusiastic about the training, and we believe we’ve created a great partnership through the trainings to help build capacity of these stores to sell healthy foods, including fresh produce,” said Weiss. “Through this initiative we’ve been able to really maximize both enrollment and other state programming. The Food Trust looks forward to expanding on this effort as part of a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to develop a Healthy Food Network in conjunction with the NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids.”

The Skinny on Fitness and Health

Originally published in The Grapevine Newspaper, June 18, 2014

Local experts weigh in on ways to succeed
By: Mary Jane Kinkade

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series on the Vineland area’s fitness and health landscape – the challenges, local options and exciting new developments. Part one will focus on mind and body fitness – why it’s important, local programs and resources, and tips for success.

As James Leigh Hunt, a 19th century writer and poet, so eloquently said, “The groundwork of all happiness is health.” If you’re thinking it’s easier said than done, you’re probably correct, but with the right mindset and support, it doesn’t have to be hard — and may even be fun.

While gym memberships may swell at the beginning of the year and during bathing suit season, it’s not always indicative of people being ready to make the commitment to getting healthy. “The key is being ready,” said Lisa Scheetz, Chief Operating Officer for the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA. “Decisions like losing weight or getting in shape are very personal. Different people are ready at different times and for different reasons.”

Statistics show that the need is real. According to a recent study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Cumberland is the unhealthiest county in the state. There are many factors that contribute to this including unemployment rate, poverty level, lack of exercise, and more.

Scheetz explained that things such as where a person lives or whether or not they have a support system also play a role. “At the Y, families are at the heart of everything we do,” she said. “Children as young as 11 years old can work out in our Family Fitness Center. We believe that families who exercise together stay together, which is key to success.”

Unfortunately, many of Vineland’s inner city families don’t have a car, which makes it difficult to get to a regular grocery store with a wide variety of choices and access to fresh purchase. Getting exercise can also be challenging, as people often feel unsafe going walking or biking on busy neighborhood streets.

The good news is that progress is being made thanks to initiatives like the brand new two-mile bike lane that now exists on Wood and Elmer streets between West and East avenues. It’s a first for inner-city Vineland and is complete with painted lines, cross walks and signage. It was funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK). “Families now have a safe place to ride and walk,” said Scheetz. “It’s all about meeting people where they are, which in this case, is in their neighborhoods.”

Another program that’s making strides is Vineland’s Corner Store Initiative. With help from the NJPHK’s Vineland team from the YMCA and Vineland Health Department, many of the city’s corner stores are literally turning a corner when it comes to providing healthy food choices for their customers. Also participating are local restaurants like Tony Soprano’s pizza. “Store and restaurant owners are working with us to implement the Healthy Corner Store Tool Kit, which was created by the Food Trust of Philadelphia,” says Scheetz. “This program is really taking off as owners want to help. We’re even testing the sale of healthy options like fruit smoothies in some stores. By working together, we’re making eating healthy an easy choice.”

What’s not always easy is getting started even when you have access to healthy food choices and exercise facilities. For many people, it’s the lack of energy and clarity of mind that stands in the way. “Things like depression, unhappiness and negativity can be huge barriers to healthfulness,” says Shirley Burke, owner of Serene Touch Center in Vineland, which offers Reiki, life coaching and mediation services. “Everything in the universe is made of energy. The universe vibrates, as do we. The higher our levels of energy and vibration, the happier and healthier we feel.”

In 2011, Burke added Reiki therapy to her repertoire of services. What began as a spur-of-the-minute class during a Gilda’s Club meeting, has turned into a thriving business that’s making a difference in people’s lives. Reiki is a safe, gentle, non-invasive holistic energy therapy that helps to restore depleted energy, reduce pain and lower stress. It can also aid conventional health care during patient recovery. “Often fixing one part of person’s life can lead to fixes in many other areas, like getting healthy and fit,” said Burke. Therapies like Reiki, mediation and life coaching can help us learn to take our oars of the water and go with the flow.”

If learning to flow, particularly when it comes to movement sounds good, you might want to consider stopping in to see Master Chuck Vertolli at Yi’s Karate. Located on Lincoln Avenue in Vineland, Yi’s Karate provides a great option for people who want to become physically fit. What’s more, Yi’s also provides a healthy dose of self-discipline, self-control, focus, and respect.

“We address both the physical and mental aspects of health,” says Vertolli who began his training 28 years ago. “Our students include both children and adults, and sometimes whole families,” he said.   We work with children as young as five and with adults of all ages. Anyone can do it and it’s never too late to start.”

Like Sheetz, Vertolli agrees that a commitment is necessary. “This isn’t something you master in one month,” he said. “We start slowly, usually with a private lesson, and then continue from there. Everyone progresses at a different pace, and that’s okay. What’s important is that you don’t give up. It takes time but remember no one was born a black belt.”

While there are many forms of Martial Arts, Tang Soo Do is the type practiced at Yi’s. Tang Soo Do is a relatively modern Korean martial art that dates back to the 6th Century. “It challenges both the body and the mind and teaches self-discipline.” says Vertolli. Our students learn to perform at full speed and with full power, but also how and when to stop.”

So, are you ready? If so, everything you need to get both your mind and body fit and healthy is ready and waiting for you — right here in Vineland. Next week in part two of this series, we will explore some of the area’s most recent advances in health care, both traditional and alternative.

YMCA Healthy Family Home Program Pillars:

  1. Eat Healthier – Choose water over soda, add in healthy ingredients, and don’t forget fruits and vegetables.
  2. Play Every Day – Go for a walk or bike ride.  Be physically active for at least 150 minutes each week.
  3. Get Together – Exercise and eat dinner together, share stories about your day.
  4. Go Outside – Enjoy the sunshine and breathe in lots of fresh air.
  5. Sleep Well – Refuel with a good night’s sleep.

School Wellness Now a Priority in Vineland Schools

The Vineland Board of Education passed the “new and improved” Vineland School District Wellness Policy on June 11. “We commend the Vineland Health Department for working with the school district on this critical commitment that focuses on nutrition quality of foods and beverages sold and served in schools, education about and promotion of nutrition and physical activity with students, parents and staff,” said Lisa Scheetz, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Vineland (NJPHK-Vineland) project manager. As a result of the policy, schools will provide healthy and nutritious food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk and whole grains. Opportunities for physical activity will be incorporated into other subject lessons and teachers will provide short physical activity breaks between lessons or classes, as appropriate. The board is committed to promoting the School Wellness Policy to all food service personnel, teachers, nurses and other school administrative staff to ensure that they have the skills needed to implement the policy with all stakeholders.

Helmets from the Heavens

Helmets from HeavensA medevac helicopter from Cooper University Hospital landing on the Elwyn grounds in Vineland was just one fun aspect of the Safety Awareness Bicycle and Scooter Rodeo held on Founder’s Day in Vineland on May 17.

The helicopter was filled with bike helmets which were provided for free to the 300 children attending the rodeo. Representatives from the Vineland Police Department, Safe Routes to School and Kids Safe of Southern New Jersey then instructed children and adults in the proper way to strap on the helmets and buckle up for safety.

With their helmets on, children were able to navigate a bike course and learn safe techniques for riding bikes and scooters.

“It was a fun day that emphasized safe exercise and active outdoor activities,” said Lisa Scheetz, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Vineland (NJPHK-Vineland) project manager. Scheetz and NJPHK-Vineland partners worked with various organizations to plan and execute the event.

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Gardening

On May 5th, Paul Robeson Elementary School in Trenton added gardening to its curriculum when students, faculty, parents and members of the community gathered to open an American Heart Association Teaching Garden on the school grounds. The garden is part of an education initiative to help build healthy bodies and minds. Representatives from the American Heart Association, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Trenton (NJPHK-Trenton) and Living Hope Empowerment Center (LHEC) joined in the May 5th Plant Day Celebration.

Aimed at first- through fifth-graders, the garden will be a hands-on experience enabling children to learn how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits.

Garden-themed lessons will teach students about nutrition, math, science and other subjects all while having fun in the fresh air and working with their hands.

The Teaching Garden was created using American Heart Association science and nutrition guidelines, as well as information from gardening and education experts. The garden is a real-life “laboratory” with programming that combines nutrition education with garden-based learning. Numerous studies have shown that participating in school garden programs can improve students’ attitudes about fruits and vegetables.

Marissa Davis, NJPHK-Trenton project manager said, “Studies show that kids who are healthy are proven to have higher academic performance. The partnership has been working with the school and the Living Hope Empowerment Center to connect Paul Robeson staff and students with the resources that will help them live healthier lives.”

“We hope that interest in the school garden will extend to community gardening,” said Francis Blanco, executive director of the Living Hope Empowerment Center (LHEC). LHEC, located on Farragut Avenue near the school, has a large community garden on its grounds. “Ideally we want children to continue gardening outside of school hours and for the kids, parents and other neighbors to use the LHEC garden as their community garden. Children can be very vocal and passionate spokespeople by sharing what they learn with their parents and extended community.”

Blanco sees the school and community gardens as places where the community can come together, be neighbors, and get involved in eating better – “a safe haven for recreation, community and healthy living.”

Healthy Kids Day Previews Summer Fun in New Jersey

Healthy Kids DayChildren and their families got a taste of summer at the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day in April.

Healthy Kids Day is a YMCA tradition celebrated across the country. Each year as children begin yearning for summer vacation, local Ys sponsor a safe and healthy play day to preview summer activities and underscore the importance of safety and wellness. The event allows families to try out Y summer programs, which focus on good nutrition and fun physical activity.

New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Vineland (NJPHK-Vineland) helped the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA celebrate its 10th Healthy Kids Day on April 12, in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Vineland.

More than 200 children and adults enjoyed the many activities, including a family obstacle course. Adults and children raced one another through an inflatable playground and crawled, jumped and ran through various obstacles to reach the big slide at end. The Y also focused on water safety programs and many other organizations presented information on health and safety in the home and on the playground.

Healthy Kids Day is held across YMCAs across the nation.  Andrea Plaza, senior vice president of marketing & communications for The Community YMCA explained that the YMCA of USA established Healthy Kids Day in 1992 in response to alarming statistics that one in three children were overweight or obese. “The Y found that kids tended to be less active during summer when they were not participating in physical activities and mental challenges at school. More than 1,600 Ys across the country host Healthy Kids Days. Throughout New Jersey, more than 6,000 kids participated in a variety of activities at their local Ys.

Opinion: Fighting type 2 diabetes and obesity in the local area

Originally published in The Daily Journal

Last week, the 2014 New Jersey state report titled “Providing Access to Healthy Solutions — An Analysis of New Jersey’s Opportunities to Enhance Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes” was released.

The report, written by PATHS (Providing Access to Healthy Solutions), an initiative led by the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI), provides an overview of the landscape of type 2 diabetes in New Jersey, where approximately 700,000 individuals live with the disease and many others are at risk for developing it, including children. New Jersey ranks No. 3 in the nation for obesity among low-income children ages 2 to 5, of whom 16.6 percent are obese. In Cumberland County, the prevalence of obesity is 33.4 percent. These children are at greater risk of receiving a diabetes diagnosis in their future. This new report is a welcome look at how government and community agencies can come together to implement health care and prevention strategies that address type 2 diabetes in New Jersey.

Government and community-based organizations were interviewed over 18 months to obtain information for inclusion in the report. Last week, individuals from those organizations attended the New Jersey Diabetes Leadership Forum at the Trenton War Memorial to discuss the report’s findings and how we can work together to make an impact and change the tide of diabetes.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney spoke during the forum on the need for collaboration as well as policy change to create healthier communities. Christene Dewitt-Parker, coordinator for School Health at the New Jersey Department of Education, spoke about the role of our schools and the need to help students prevent and manage diabetes. There were many other guest speakers who provided great insights and promise in the area of preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

In Vineland, the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Vineland and its partners work together to increase access to affordable, healthy foods and safe places for residents to be active. These partners have created the following outcomes:

  • NJPHK-Vineland, the Vineland Health Department and Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA got five Vineland corner stores and restaurants to increase the availability of fresh produce and other healthy food choices in their establishments by implementing the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Toolkit.
  • NJPHK-Vineland partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Vineland Public School District to strengthen the school’s wellness policy, also forming a Wellness Council. Landis Intermediate won the Alliance’s Bronze award last year, which recognizes schools for creating healthier menu options. This year Landis is on Elementary will qualify for bronze.
  • Vineland High School added two menu items made with Jersey-grown fresh produce, resulting from the collaboration of NJPHK-Vineland, the city of Vineland Health Department, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Rutgers Food Innovation Center, Vineland Public Schools and food vendor Sodexo.
  • City of Vineland Engineering, Planning Health and Economic Department are working to create bike lanes, crosswalks and share the road signage on Elmer Street and Wood.
  • Healthy Kids Champion worked with schools on the introduction of a new Healthy U — a structured recess program taught during the school day.

New Program:

The Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA has been a community convener to help reduce obesity in children and families in Cumberland County. In February 2014, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA was selected to facilitate the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program to begin in the spring/summer of this year.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a year-long program with 16 weekly sessions followed by 8 monthly sessions. In a relaxed classroom setting, a trained Lifestyle Coach helps participants learn skills that will help them incorporate healthy eating, increasing physical activity, and other behavior changes into their everyday lives. The goals of the program are 7 percent weight loss and an increase in physical activity to 150 minutes per week.

To be eligible for this program, participants must be at least 18 years old with a BMI of 25 or greater and at risk for developing type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Youth under 18 and people diagnosed with diabetes do not qualify. A Y membership is not required for participation.

The PATHS report on New Jersey’s type 2 diabetes issues provides several recommendations, including:

• Addressing how to make fruits and vegetables affordable to people in many of our low-income communities

• Helping them gain access to healthy foods in the community and at school.

• Making communities conducive to healthy, active living; and providing access to diabetes prevention and management services

• Enhancing care coordination for Medicaid/Family Care enrollees.

Actions taken around these recommendations can truly make a difference in our state and our community. It is time for us to step up our efforts in preventing and managing diabetes in New Jersey, and it starts right here in our community.

Editor’s note: A copy of the full report can be found at http://bit.ly/1lmFwy1.)

Lisa Scheetz
Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA
Project Manager
New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids—Vineland

425 Greenwood Ave, Trenton, NJ  08609 | info@njhealthykids.org | 609-278-9622 | Fax 609-278-9678
Designed & Hosted by Princeton Online