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Camden Residents Get a New Mobile Farmers Market

June 6, 2017

Get Healthy Camden is teaming up with Virtua Health Systems to provide a mobile farmers market for Camden and Burlington counties’ residents this summer as part of Connect the Lots. Now in its third year, Connect the Lots is a community-driven initiative that utilizes underused and vacant spaces in the city for healthy, fun, and safe activities for residents. Starting on June 29 through September, the Mobile Market will set up shop every Thursday at Roosevelt Plaza Park. Open from 11 am to 1 pm, Camden residents will have access to a fun atmosphere with live music and fresh produce from Whole Foods. “We’re incredibly excited to partner with Virtua in providing residents access to fresh, healthy produce and continue building a culture of health in our city,” said Val Galarza, senior project director for Cooper’s Ferry and Get Healthy Camden. The Mobile Market will sell produce at a reduced […]


A Visit to Frost Valley Inspires Weight Loss and Healthier Habits

May 1, 2017

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Karen Merricks would add that it also takes a camp. In her case, the Frost Valley YMCA, a camping environmental education and conferencing center located in Claryville, New York, and part of the Catskill Mountains. Merricks believes the camp changed her life and the lives of her sons. They spent a weekend at Frost Valley last year sponsored by the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids. The camp’s emphasis on healthy eating and fun outdoor activities in a peaceful, mountain setting energized her and her sons to continue those healthy life lessons when they returned home to Camden. Merricks later returned to Frost Valley as an ambassador, accompanying other Camden families and championing the camp’s wellness philosophy. “When I visited Frost Valley, I weighed 200 pounds, had high blood pressure and swollen feet and ankles,” Merricks said. Merricks has been […]


Get Healthy Camden Leads Community Health Feedback Sessions

April 3, 2017

How can Camden improve its overall health? That was the discussion topic for 30 representatives of faith-based organizations who came together to share their suggestions with Get Healthy Camden (GHC) and Camden Coalition of Health Providers (Camden Coalition). During the meeting held at Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church on February 27th, Cooper’s Ferry and GHC project manager Val Galarza provided a brief background about Get Healthy Camden, and Camden Coalition program assistant Soley Berrios explained the next steps for the Faith in Prevention organization. “It’s crucial that we hear direct feedback from the community about the important issues affecting them daily and how Camden can become a healthier city,” said Galarza. Participants were asked to share the changes they had made in their respective congregations and to give feedback on the proposed plans for improvement in Camden’s health initiatives. Attendees were divided into breakout groups to share suggestions for improvements in four […]


Camden Families Have the “Healthy” Time of Their Lives

April 3, 2017

Justin Spencer-Linzie (far right) poses for a photo with some Frost Valley campers Imagine a no-cost weekend health retreat with your family at a 5,000-acre camp in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. Cell phones and other technology is banned. In exchange, families can spend the day hiking, zip-lining through the woods, swimming, boating, practicing archery, sitting around the campfire, stargazing, enjoying healthy meals and learning how to prepare them. About 75 individuals from Camden were able to enjoy such a two-night weekend last year at Frost Valley YMCA. The healthy family weekend retreat provides people of all ages and abilities with enriching, even life-altering, outdoor experiences, access to nature, adventure, environmental education, and fun. Justin Spencer-Linzie, Director of Community Youth Programs at the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties, and Valeria Galarza, Senior Project Manager with Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, accompanied each group of Camden families on their weekend health […]


NJPHK’s Anderson Serves on Camden’s ‘Investing in a Healthy Future’ Panel

March 2, 2017

L-R: Darrin Anderson (Deputy Director, NJPHK), Bob Atkins (Director of NJHI), Kim Fortunato (President, Campbell Soup Foundation), and Jerome Williams (Exec. Vice Chancellor, Rutgers-Newark) On February 15th, 2017, 50 members gathered at Campbell Soup Company headquarters in Camden, NJ for the ‘Investing in a Healthy Future: The Benefits of Regional Wellbeing conference. NJPHK Deputy Director Darrin Anderson served as a panelist, along with colleagues Robert Atkins, national program director, New Jersey Health Initiatives) and Jerome D. Williams, provost and executive vice chancellor, Rutgers University – Newark. Moderated by Kim Fortunato, president of the Campbell Soup Foundation, the panelists discussed topics related to improving and empowering children’s health in local communities. At the close of the program, each panelist was asked to choose one thing they would change immediately. Anderson indicated he would change poverty’s overall impact on children and their health. “Good health habits should be implemented at every age,” […]


Get Healthy Camden Awarded $25,000 from General Electric’s Healthy Cities Leadership Academy Challenge

January 12, 2017

BUILT TO LAST: GAINING AN EDGE FROM PARTNERSHIP AND CROSS-SECTOR COLLABORATION session with: Elizabeth Mitchell, CEO, Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (Moderator); David Erickson, Director, Community Development, U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; and Kim Fortunato, Director, Community Affairs; President, Campbell Soup Foundation Get Healthy Camden is one of the nine winners from around the country of the General Electric (GE) HealthyCities Leadership Academy Open Innovation Challenge. Get Healthy Camden receives an initial award of $25,000 to help develop population health improvements through partnerships with public and private entities. Representatives from Get Healthy Camden’s partner organizations also are participating in GE’s HealthyCities Leadership Academy. The Academy is a year-long learning collaborative designed to mentor and support leaders in their communities as they develop and support new strategies to tackle population health challenges. The Academy kicked off with a two-day, in-person workshop at GE’s Global Leadership Institute in Crotonville, New […]


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Valeria Galarza

September 29, 2016

Valeria Galarza’s extended family embraces the culture and heritage of the Dominican Republic on her mother’s side, El Salvador on her father’s side, Puerto Rico on her husband’s side and the USA where Galarza and her husband were born and raised. Galarza is senior project manager for Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and project manager for New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Camden where she provides leadership to the Get Healthy Camden initiative. Get Healthy Camden seeks to advance policy, systems and environmental changes that create equity and sustainability for a healthier Camden. Thanks in large part to Galarza’s leadership, Camden City Council recently adopted a wellness resolution committing the City to consider health in all policies moving forward. Spanish was Galarza’s first language, and she gained command of English through ESL classes and exposure to Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Being bi-lingual has proved to be a distinct advantage in a […]


Get Healthy Camden Examines Road Safety with a Bike Ride

August 19, 2016

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 71 percent of bicyclist fatalities occur in urban areas. Camden is taking action to make biking safer for its residents. The city is becoming a part of The Circuit Trails – a growing network of over 750 planned miles of interconnected community trails, branching from the greater Philadelphia area. The goal is to provide endless opportunities for recreation and commuting. Get Healthy Camden, the YMCA of Burlington & Camden Counties, Rutgers-Camden School of Nursing, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Cooper’s Ferry Partnership were among the organizations represented. Several Camden residents also participated in the nearly 10-mile tour which traveled through Camden’s north side neighborhood and among various highways.  Ultimately, our goal is to make the bike trails safe and accessible to all residents,” said Valeria Galarza, Senior Project Manager for Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. “We’re even looking to plan a Ciclovia for Camden in the future.” Ciclovia is a Spanish word that means “bikeway” and is a designated bike route […]


Camden’s Olympic Day Showcases Ways to Keep the Olympic Spirit Alive

July 20, 2016

Fun, entertainment, and health services were all part of the Camden-hosted “Let’s Move: Olympic Day” at Pyne Poynt Park on June 25. The event was free and open to the residents and offered plenty of space for children to run, play games, swim, and dance in one of the city’s beautiful parks. Health vendors lined walking paths and provided free health screenings and health services information to more than 200 visitors. “Creating a culture of health has been a big push for Get Healthy Camden and events like Olympic Day and Connect the Lots show residents how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle,” said Valeria Galarza, Senior Project Manager, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and Project Director for New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Camden. The Camden Olympic Day event was a great tie-in to the August 2016 Summer Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro‎, Brazil. This year, there are 30 New Jersey natives competing in a variety of Olympic Games and Trials. Worldwide events like the Summer Olympics also can be a motivator in kick starting a healthy journey in our local communities. […]


Camden Community Aims For Health and Summer Unity with ‘Connect The Lots’

June 21, 2016

A strong community is a powerful foundation for creating a culture of health. Connect the Lots is Camden’s community-driven initiative aimed at bringing the Camden community closer. With help from the Kresge Foundation, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, the City of Camden, and local residents and stakeholders, this city-wide initiative is utilizing Camden’s under-used open spaces and vacant lots to host games, exercise classes, movie nights, artistic workshops and live music for its residents. From June to September 2016, many activities and events will be happening weekly in various lots and parks throughout the city including Pyne Poynt Park, Dudley Grange Park, and Roosevelt Plaza Park. Cooper’s Ferry Senior Project Manager Val Galarza hopes that Connect the Lots will get residents outside for the summer. “We want this event to showcase all the great places that Camden has to offer and get people moving and embracing the culture of health we’re building,” […]