“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.SHARE: