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Faith-Based Conference Brings Healthy Living to NJ Congregations

April 27, 2012 | Community News

Darrin Anderson addresses conference

Darrin Anderson, NJPHK’s Deputy Director, spoke on community engagement and advocacy at the first ShapingNJ faith-based conference, “Healthy Living for All: Bringing Healthy Eating and Active Living to Your Faith-Based Community.” The conference was held at the Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton Center for Health and Wellness in Mercerville.  Hosted by ShapingNJ and the New Jersey Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, the conference brought together over 100 representatives from nearly 50 New Jersey congregations to learn about existing programs and activities that promote healthy eating and active living in NJ congregations.

Anderson participated in the “Lend Your Voice” panel, explaining how changing policies and environmental factors impact those that live, play and work in a community and why it’s important for faith-based organizations to advocate for policy and environmental change. “When people have access to local playgrounds, pools and trails, they are more likely to choose physical activity and less likely to be obese,” Anderson said. “Policies to support recreational sites increase the physical activity of the residents with a long-term outcome of improved health among the community.”

The majority of participants felt the conference was relevant to their congregation, and commented that the presentations were “inspirational,” “timely,” and “well worth it,” providing “lots of ideas to take back.” The later included tool kits and curriculums available to faith-based congregations. The Office of Minority and Multicultural Health used the conference as an opportunity to announce a competitive state mini-grant process to implement faith-based initiatives. “Everyone that spoke provided food for thought and inspiration,” one participant commented. “There were many initiatives I would never have envisioned.” Over three-fourths of the participants said they identified at least one healthy eating or active living strategy to bring back to their congregation.

Other presenters included: Office of Nutrition and Fitness, First Tabernacle, Shri Krishna Nidhi Foundation, First Episcopal District AME Church, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, Rutgers University, NJ SNAP-Ed, NJ Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Islamic Community, Garden State Sikh Association, United Sikhs, Living Hope Church, GreenFaith, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and The American Heart Association.

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