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Two to be honored by YMCA

Originally posted on MyCentralJersey.com

by Cheryl Makin

Bill Lovett and Mickey Gross named winners of prestigious awards

Two community members are set to be honored at the 2016 Annual Dinner Meeting of the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, and Woodbridge and South Amboy in May. William “Bill” Lovett and Michael “Mickey” Gross were named the recipients of two prestigious awards — the Charles S. Edgar Memorial Award and the Peter J. Barnes, Jr. Community Champion Award, respectively.

For his outstanding work with the YMCA and the community, Lovett, currently the Executive Director of the New Jersey Alliance for YMCA’s, will receive the Charles S. Edgar Memorial Award. The Alliance is a not-for-profit association made up of 37 YMCA’s from throughout the state. Prior to this position, Lovett was the CEO of the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and South Amboy from 1988 until his retirement in 2012.

According to the YMCA, the Charles S. Edgar Award recipient is a person who demonstrates leadership and is of the highest personal integrity, has greatly served the youth of the community, exemplifies community spirit at its best, has contributed to the community through a variety of organizations and in a variety of roles.

This person also is responsive to and interested in the work of the YMCA, has a record of long-term service, is recognized for his or her individual efforts, not on behalf of a group and lastly, whose acceptance will enrich the tradition of the Charles S. Edgar Memorial Award.

By his record, Lovett embodies all of the award’s qualifications.

In addition to many successful projects to expand the reach of the YMCA during his tenure, Lovett played an important and active role in the National YMCA Movement as he served on the YMCA of the USA Board of Directors and  was President of the New Jersey Alliance of YMCA’s. Lovett’s legacy also included positively impacting the community outside his CEO role when he led a number of community initiatives including the establishment of wellness programs outside the walls of the YMCA buildings, such as the Student Fitness Center at Metuchen High School. He also gave leadership to the community when establishing the Metuchen Freedom Plaza, a memorial to state residents who died on 9/11.

Lovett worked with the Metuchen Board of Education to institute programs such as the Metuchen High School STAR Awards and Project Graduation. His collaborations with area churches included the organization of six child care programs and the Martin Luther King Breakfast, which brought people together to celebrate the life of Dr. King and featured an essay contest for students focusing on civic responsibility.

Lovett also was a member of the Livestrong/Lance Armstrong Foundation National Collaborative and Chairman of the Public Policy for the NJ Alliance of YMCA’s and Chairman of the Garden State Executive Network. He is the State Program Director of the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and leads the New Jersey Healthy Communities Network.

For his outstanding leadership and contribution to the YMCA and the community as a whole, Gross will be presented with the YMCA Peter J. Barnes Jr. Community Champion Award.

The Peter J. Barnes, Jr. Community Champion Award recipient is a person who has a legacy of community service, is responsive to and interested in the work of the YMCA as part of a demonstrated long-term commitment to furthering the greater good of the communities in which we serve. That person also serves as an example for others of leadership, integrity and the core values of the YMCA — caring, honesty, respect, responsibility as well as demonstrates a character that is beyond reproach and who consistently exemplifies the highest standards of community service and whose acceptance will enrich the tradition of the YMCA Community Champion Award.

A resident of South Amboy for over 30 years, Gross is the head of the Environmental Division of the Middlesex County Health Department, which oversees twenty-five municipalities. He serves as Chairman to the New Jersey Public Health Council, appointed by Governor Codey in 2005, and is a member of the New Jersey Hospital Planning Board. During his tenure as a member of the Public Health Council, Gross was the board member who made a motion for stronger immunization reform for all children enrolled in school, which was approved and now is a state law.

Gross has been active in South Amboy since he and his wife Susan moved there in 1985. Some of the highlights of his volunteerism include assisting with South Amboy Little League, Vice President of the St. Mary’s Athletic Association for seven years, and for more than 20 years with his wife, serving as board members of the Mavis Music Association of the Visually Impaired, an organization that provides musical equipment and lessons to the blind who have a desire to learn how to play musical instruments.

He has been a board member of the Frog Hollow Swim Club for more than 15 years and served for one year as President. During his years at Frog Hollow, he chaired 5 Mile and 5K runs to raise funds for the South Amboy First Aid Squad and Fire Department. Gross was a member of the South Amboy Zoning Board for numerous years before being voted “Councilman at Large.” For the last two years, he has held the title as Council President and organized countless fundraisers within South Amboy.

Lovett and Gross will be honored at the 2016 Annual Dinner Meeting of the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge, and South Amboy on at 6 p.m. May 4 at the Pines Manor in Edison. The cost is $65. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Jeanine Costa, Association Advancement Assistant at 732-516-2083 or jeanine.costa@ymcaofmewsa.org.

Childhood Obesity Can be Linked to Asthma

asthma-obesityObesity across the nation is still a growing epidemic and being obese at a young age has been linked to the onset of asthma in adults. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory system. According to a study in the Journal for Nurse Practitioners, both obesity and asthma are considered inflammatory diseases. Excess fatty tissues surrounding the lungs and heart can restrict deep breathing and therefore lead to asthma development.

Obesity greatly increases the risk for diabetes, stroke and other diseases later in life. The good news is that there is a growing movement to address and reverse the obesity epidemic. Daily, we see posts and news reports filled with different ways to stay active and be physically healthy. There are social media sites dedicated to clean eating and simple recipes that adults and children would both enjoy. Yet many barriers remain when it comes to ensuring that children and families have healthy choices, especially in our most underserved communities.

Visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology to learn more about childhood asthma.

Vineland Schools Form District Wellness Team

school wellnessWellness has been on the forefront in Vineland public schools since the Board adopted a wellness policy in 2014.

Now the District has created a District Wellness Team to support the individual schools and to filter information within the district about wellness best practices and opportunities for funding.

Chelsea Welch, field representative for the Vineland Department of Health, is working with the Team. She got involved when she saw that funding opportunities from Sustainable Jersey and other sources were not getting the necessary traction because the District lacked a central “clearing house” to review opportunities and get the word out to the various schools. “The District team brings 17 diverse representatives together to consider the opportunities for grant funding, generate ideas for grants and help to focus and push funding applications forward,” Welch explained. “The goal is to consolidate efforts and focus on grants and programs that are best for the Vineland schools as a whole. The District team also will help individual schools form their own teams to implement wellness policies within the schools.”

The District Team has wide representation including the superintendent and assistant superintendent, middle school and elementary school principals, the Sodexo food services director and the athletic director for the high school, a union representative and an involved citizen, the YMCA, and the Board of Education Accounting department, and Vineland health educator.

Some members of the District Green Team, which focuses on sustaining the environment, will serve on the District Wellness Team to allow for cross-pollination and coordination and allowing the Wellness Team to take part in Sustainable Jersey grants for the schools.

The team met in April and May and new ideas are already taking hold. “A ‘Top Chef”-type food competition at one middle school ignited the Team’s interest. It showed how wellness can take many forms and be a fun activity for kids,” said Welch. Schools also expressed interest in applying for Girls on the Run, a transformational learning program for 8 to 13 year-old girls that teaches life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running.

As part of an ongoing effort to promote healthy eating and exercise to students, Sodexo, the district’s food service provider, donated new bicycles to students from Sabater and Leuchter Elementary Schools and Landis Intermediate School. The donation was linked to both the “healthy foods, healthy kids” initiative and Safe Routes to School, with the goal of encouraging students to spend more time outside and be more active. Helmets were also provided to ensure safe bike use. Future bicycle donations to students at other schools are possible, said Purvesh Patel, food service director for Sodexo and a member of the District Team.

If the initial results are an indication, the District now has a strong, motivated team in place to make the district wellness policy actionable throughout Vineland’s schools.

Seven Lessons in Creating an Urban Farmers Market

FarmersMarket_CostumesLast year, Greenwood Ave.’s first urban market gave nearly 4,000 Trenton residents access to locally grown fruits and vegetables to ignite healthier living. Not a typical farmers market, the goal of the market was to help make the healthy choice the easy choice by offering on-site free health screenings, live cooking demonstrations, lessons in nutrition and weekly physical fitness activities.

Greenwood Ave.’s second market season opens every Monday beginning June 13, 2016 through October 24, from 2 – 6 PM. Each week, the market will feature Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables. Matching dollars will be provided for residents using SNAP, WIC and FMNP vouchers. Health screenings, nutrition education, cooking demonstrations and live music will also be included in the weekly activities. For the first time, the farmers market will also provide free dinner for children ages 18 and under as a part of the USDA Summer Food Service meal site every Monday beginning June 27, 2016.

If you are planning to launch an urban farmers market, below are a number of best practices from the Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market team for making your market successful:

  1. Have a strong marketing strategy – promotions are a vital part of getting the word out – making sure to post posters, billboards, and flyers around the city helps raise awareness about the market, when it will be available and what it will offer.
  2. Get feedback from customers – hearing what the residents have to say about their experiences is a great way to learn what’s working and what changes need to be made.
  3. Have an active presence on social mediums – social media is a major force all over the world – especially with youth. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great places to post photos of the market’s events and allow customers to interact. Utilizing these platforms gives you a strong online identity and can even expand the reach of your marketing campaigns.
  4. Get the community involved – people from all walks of life make up urban communities and it’s important to get everyone excited about their health.
  5. Accept SNAP, WIC, and vouchers – matching dollars are a great way to increase attendance and allows residents to extend their buying power.
  6. Teach people how to prepare healthier meals – host live cooking demonstrations that showcase how delicious healthier choices really are. Taste tests after the demo are a huge selling point, too!
  7. Provide entertainment, activities and games for all ages – with 4,000 people visiting over the course of Greenwood Ave.’s market season, there has to be a welcoming environment! Zumba, live music and monthly festivals are entertaining for all ages.

For more information on its summer activities, visit the Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market website.

YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day a Success in Trenton

HKDGAFMtable-BrandinHarris age7 TrentonNJA fun afternoon was had by everyone who came out to celebrate the Trenton YMCA’s Healthy Kid’s Day on April 30. Trenton’s Healthy Kids Day event was one of 23 separate events across New Jersey. Held from 10 am – 2 pm, the event provided local residents with music, games, prizes, and plenty of health-conscious vendors who shared their knowledge with the community.

Trenton’s Healthy Kids Day encouraged kids to go outside and play.  A passport listing all participating organizations was given to every child who came to the event. After kids filled their respective passports with stamps from each table, they received a free t-shirt. At the NJPHK-Trenton table, kids received plant seedlings with Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market stickers, promoting its June 13 opening day. Along with the passport, games and a live DJ, the event also included tours of the facilities, a rock climbing wall, circus aerialists and a fire truck. Healthy Kids Day is celebrated as a nationwide initiative to improve and sustain the overall health and wellness of today’s youth.

In celebration of YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, the YMCA offers the following tips to help families develop healthy habits:

  • Eat Five Fruits and Veggies– Make sure kids get at least five servings a day, the minimum number nutritionists recommend to maintain healthy childhood development.
  • Foster an Early and Ongoing Passion for Books– Read to and with your kids. Help children read at every age and every stage of their development.
  • Team Up for Athletic Events – Set a family goal of great health by teaming up for community or charity events like races, walks, fun runs, bike rides, etc.
  • Volunteer Together – Find a cause that matters to the kids. Open their eyes to a world beyond themselves and the rich rewards that come from making a difference.
  • Lead by Example & Be a Good Role Model – kids can be influenced by seeing how hard their parents work at home or on the job, and how rewarding that experience is.

Healthy Kids Day was started in 1992 and continues to be celebrated nationwide annually. For more information about the YMCA and Healthy Kids Day, visit their website.

Camden’s Partner Meeting Focuses on Building a Culture of Health

camdenallpartnersmeeting“Basic human needs have to be fulfilled”“Education is most important to bring to the community”“Children need proper outlets for physical activity.” These were among the comments shared by individuals who came together on May 3rd for an All Partners Meeting to explore solutions to getting one step closer to building a Culture of Health in Camden. Valeria Galarza, senior project manager for Cooper’s Ferry Partnership facilitated the two-hour meeting attended by more than 80 people and included suggestions and ideas from speakers, residents, and partners, all concerned about the South Jersey city’s future and its citizens.

Galarza kicked off the meeting with the unveiling of the new Get Healthy Camden initiative, which focuses on food access, physical activity and school wellness.

Cooper’s Ferry Partnership’s Vice President of Neighborhood Initiatives Meishka Mitchell provided background information on the Camden Collaborative Initiative, the umbrella organization that Get Healthy Camden falls under. Chandler Hart-McGonigle of AmeriCorps VISTA explained the benefits of Camden being designated a Promise Zone by President Obama. A Promise Zone designation partners the federal government with local leaders and residents to revitalize Camden’s community, while giving the city preference to certain federal grants and assistance over the next ten years.

Kim Fortunato, director of Healthy Communities for Campbell’s Soup Company, spoke about the importance of a collective impact stating, “We all need to have the same end goal to achieve what’s most important together.” Alison Hastings, communications & engagement manager for Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), explained DVRPC’s food economy strategy for Camden with the hope that healthier food can be readily accessible for residents. Director of Health Education for Camden County Patricia Hearey shared key data collected related to Camden’s health and wellness and how in compared to the overall state of New Jersey.

Attendees also participated in a live polling session where they gave immediate feedback on what they felt were the most pressing issues, as well as how they could help address them. Education, income, and employment was the number one priority, holding 35% of the votes, while the increase of affordable and high-quality healthy foods came in second with 21%.

A follow up meeting is planned to create a comprehensive roadmap to address the health and wellness priorities. For more information about the Camden Collaborative Initiative, visit their website and Twitter page.

Price Shares NJPHK Mission During Public Health Symposium

Price PresentThe 21st Annual Public Health Symposium, sponsored by Rutgers School of Public Health, was a homecoming of sorts for Courtney Price, Project Manager of New Jersey Partnership for Kids-Newark (NJPHK-N).

Price graduated from Rutgers School of Public Health in 2015 and returned this year as a Symposium presenter.

The Symposium addressed the many ways in which the public health system can support healthy living for today’s children. Speakers, poster presentations and exhibiters highlighted how families, communities, schools and other institutions can work together to make the U.S. the healthiest nation in one generation. Participants learned how they can encourage healthy habits for children in New Jersey and beyond.

The event kicked off Public Health Week, which is promoted by the American Public Health Association.

Price shared the podium with keynote speaker Jennifer Ng’andu, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Kristen Schiro, from EmPower Somerset. Price kicked her presentation off with some sobering statistics that underscore the challenges:

  • 14.2% of New Jersey children under the age of five that are from low-income families are obese.
  • Among the 44 states reporting on obesity rates among children from low-income families, New Jersey has the highest prevalence.
  • Nearly one out of four (24.7%) New Jersey children aged 10-17 is overweight or obese.
  • 9% of New Jersey high school students are obese and 14% are overweight.

Price focused on the work of NJPHK, explaining how communities are working to reverse the obesity trends through education and improved food choices in Newark neighborhoods. She focused on the achievements of Let’s Move in the Clinic! and the Newark Corner Store initiative.“

It was great to be back among colleagues and students and to meet future graduates of the program,” said Price. “I always welcome the opportunity to share the NJPHK mission and reflect on the impact we can make as a collective force.”

Washing Your Hands Can Save Lives

hand-washingWorld Hygiene Day is celebrated every May to spread awareness and knowledge of the importance of clean hands. Getting children to wash their hands properly is crucial to staying healthy and an important habit to instill at a young age. According to the CDC, educating kids about correct washing techniques reduces respiratory illnesses (like colds) by 21%. Washing hands three times a day can reduce the spread of illnesses and infectious diseases. In a report by the CDC, “Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives,” the CDC provides a how to guide for handwashing and informative videos that can help both children and adults learn proper handwashing techniques.

Alma College Students Visit Stockton University

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Rodger Jackson (SU), Dr. Laurie Shanderson (SU), Dr. Alysia Mastrangelo (SU and NJPHK-V), Darrin Anderson PhD (NJPHK), and Dr. Sanderson (Alma College)

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Rodger Jackson (SU), Dr. Laurie Shanderson (SU), Dr. Alysia Mastrangelo (SU and NJPHK-V), Darrin Anderson PhD (NJPHK), and Dr. Sanderson (Alma College)

As part of a U.S. experiential learning tour to witness various health challenges, a group of students from Alma College visited Stockton University on May 2.  The main focus of the day centered on disparities, equity and child health, followed by a campus tour.

The group was hosted by Dr. Laurie Shanderson, associate dean in the School of Health Sciences at Stockton University. Among the presenters were: NJPHK’s Deputy Director Dr. Darrin Anderson, PhD, who discussed the different challenges seen in rural community health in comparison to those seen in urban and suburban communities.

Dr. M. Alysia Mastrangelo, professor of physical therapy at Stockton University, also participated in the session. She shared information about Get FIT@Stockton, a program dedicated to promoting an inclusive culture of health and wellness for people with disabilities, health conditions and their caregivers. Dr. Mastrangelo is also a NJPHK-Vineland partner who leads the collective impact for Health Equity.

Is Community Health A Contemporary Civil Rights Issue?

CivilRightsIssueThat was the question posed by NJPHK Deputy Director Darrin Anderson, PhD at the “Empowering Adaptable Communities Summit.”  Anderson takes the audience on a historical journey to explore the impact of having a community rooted in inequities.  Watch the YouTube video

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