NJPHK-Camden reports strong momentum in the efforts of its community partners to bring more opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity to Camden residents. As a result of the NJPHK-Camden efforts, three community partners will be adopting wellness policies in the coming months. Slated for the Camden Public Schools, Respond Inc. and the Parkside Methodist Church the policies will benefit children and their families throughout Camden.
Camden Public Schools: The NJPHK-Camden subcommittee has been working diligently on a new and enhanced wellness policy for the Camden Board of Education to adopt by this upcoming school year. The new policy includes high standards for nutrition and physical activity to be implemented for all Camden Public Schools. The Board expects to consider the policy at the July-August board meetings. The Superintendent’s office has reviewed the policy and understands that students’ health and wellness are critical for successful academic achievement. Therefore, they are committed to ensuring our policy is a priority.
Respond, Inc. is in final review of their new and enhanced wellness policy for all 12 of its childcare centers. In addition, they have included details to add new healthy options to the catering menu and bake shop which is open to the community at large.
The organization has a far reach into the Camden community through its many services, which include child care, a senior adult center, and programs for homeless adults, rental housing and home ownership, youth services, employment, economic development, job training and associated programs that help people help themselves.
Adopting the wellness policy will institutionalize what the organization strives to do daily. Executive Director Wilbert Mitchell says Respond Inc. is invested in trying to reduce obesity levels among children in their childcare centers. “Our school nurse will recommend diet, weigh youngsters and keep track of the progress we are making,” Mitchell says.
Respond Inc. staff works closely with parents to carry healthy living messages into the home. Children at various centers have taste-tested and even prepared healthy food options, including Green Slime Smoothies concocted of pineapples and spinach among other ingredients, oatmeal pancakes and veggie bagel faces.
“Healthy has to be a team approach between child and parent to make sure healthy meals are being served at home as well as at the day care center,” Mitchell observes. “It’s a slow process but parents are becoming more aware of the types of foods they should be serving young children. A father told me that he offered his child a snack but the child said, ‘no, that’s not healthy.’ The dad had to regroup. So the messages are spilling over into the home.”
In addition, Respond Inc. teachers are incorporating physical activity into their lesson plans. The centers make good use of a rooftop play area and indoor play grounds to make sure children are active.
Parkside United Methodist Church is on track to be the first faith-based organization in the city to implement a policy change to support healthy eating and physical activity. The Church Board has drafted a wellness policy and their Health & Welfare Ministry is working towards the adoption of the policy this summer.
The Church has a champion in Merdis Hill, a self-described “resident health nut.” As chair of the Church’s Health & Welfare Ministry and a leader in the Dance Ministry, Hill is passionate about living an active lifestyle. She is spearheading efforts to draft and adopt the Wellness Policy, which will focus on shopping for food, preparation, portion control and movement.
“First, when we shop for Church meals and children’s activities, we want to keep good nutrition in mind. Let’s purchase chicken, turkey, fish and stay away from fatty foods and white flour,” Hill explains. “When we prepare meals for Church events, we want to bake and broil rather than fry. Use healthier oils, such as olive instead of vegetable oil. Leave out the fat back and salt pork and season with turkey wings. Cook collard greens and green beans in non-fat chicken broth. Then serve one meat, one vegetable and one starch.”
The final aspect of the Wellness Policy focuses on exercise. The Church hopes to encourage those who lead children and youth activities to incorporate exercise. They plan a walkers club for adults and have committed to holding activities at Farnham Park to get members outdoors and take advantage of the recently refurbished park so close to the church.SHARE: