NJPHK representatives engaged about 60 teens from across the state in an energetic break-out discussion about the role they can play to improve the health of their communities as well as their own health, during the 30th Annual New Jersey Black Issues Convention (NJBIC). The theme of this year’s convention, held September 27 to 29 at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, was: “1982-2012 – Celebrating a Legacy of Unity, Survival and Progress.”
All sessions on September 28 focused specifically on issues facing youth, and featured a keynote address by Antoinette Ellis-Williams, Ph.D., director of the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center at New Jersey City University. Dr. Ellis-Williams encouraged the hundreds of students in attendance to channel their disappointments and challenges into passion, and then turn that passion into action to make a difference in their world, even at a young age. NJPHK’s presentation, “Healthy Eating and Physical Activity: Creating Sustainable Community Change,” drove home a similar message about getting involved in the process, according to Darrin Anderson, Ph.D., deputy director of NJPHK.
“Nearly one third of New Jersey’s youngsters, ages 10 to 17, are overweight or obese. Our goal was to empower the students with this information, while showing them ways they can create important, healthful changes in their own lives and in their communities. They need to be informed, to be engaged in the dialogue, and to be heard, because it’s their future we’re fighting for.”
Anderson was joined in the discussion by NJPHK-Camden Project Coordinator Valeria Galarza and New Brunswick community partners Miriam Merced from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Linda Bright from Mt. Zion AME Church. Highlighted were a number of successful NJPHK-supported programs including: the Fun in the Park program at Baker Park in New Brunswick; the transformation of Camden’s Northgate Park into a safe place for kids and families to play; the creation of a Health and Wellness Ministry at the Parkside United Methodist Church in Camden; and the “All for Kids” pilot program curriculum in New Brunswick, which has been so successful that it’s been expanded to the entire preschool for 2012-13. These projects and many others are supported by NJPHK in its effort to connect and empower community partnerships across the state to implement strategies that help prevent childhood obesity and create healthier communities.
The NJPHK session at NJBIC wrapped up with a thoughtful Q & A with the teens, arming them with lots of “food for thought,” including ideas they could use to increase their level of activity, ways to improve their own health and that of others in their community, and opportunities to volunteer with local NJPHK projects.SHARE: