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New Brunswick Youth Film Project Encourages a Healthier Environment

July 20, 2012 | New Brunswick

Nearly 75 residents of New Brunswick got a sneak peek at the environmental factors that have contributed to childhood obesity in their neighborhood through the lens of middle school students. The screening of the Health HEROES Video Journalism project was one of the main attractions at the New Brunswick Community Health Fair held at Roosevelt School in April.

The 20-minute documentary was created by sixth- and seventh-grade students participating in the Film Club@ the Hub and showcased the challenges children face when it comes to access to quality food and physical fitness activities in the New Brunswick community. The student journalism project kicked off in January 2012 on Martin Luther King Day. From January through March, students determined areas of focus, developed interview questions and embarked on a journey to nearby corner stores, a local farmers market, restaurants and a community park.

“The project gave students the opportunity to take action and improve their overall health and quality of life in a way that was not only educational, but beneficial for their entire community,” said Maura Carey, coordinator for Film Club @ the Hub.

According to data from the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, 49% of New Brunswick boys and 44% of New Brunswick girls are either overweight or obese compared to 32% boys and 31% girls nationally. Only 19% of New Brunswick children meet the recommended level of daily physical activity. In addition, the community has more convenience stores than supermarkets or other stores that offer healthier food options.

“Creating healthy communities is the key to reversing the obesity epidemic,” said Fatimah Williams-Castro, coordinator for New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-New Brunswick. “When communities have access to healthy, affordable foods and safe places to walk, bike and play, our children have the benefit of a healthier, happier life.”

The video project was funded by the New Brunswick Tomorrow  with a grant received from Youth Services America and UnitedHealth Group Heroes.  New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-New Brunswick is co-directed by New Brunswick Tomorrow and the Raritan Valley YMCA.   Watch Video

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