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Progress Made and Lessons Learned

December 4, 2013 | Community News

During the conference, six interactive workshops presented current thinking on policy and environmental change strategies that can increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. Each moderated session featured discussion among experts in the field and enabled the audience to ask questions and move discourse further. Topics, moderators and panel members were as follows:

Using Advocacy to Advance Health in All Policies: Fran Gallagher, executive director of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, moderated a panel on creating a movement and advocating for health in all policies to help build healthy, vibrant communities and inspire the creation of a national network to prevent childhood obesity. Leigh Ann Von Hagen, Rutgers University senior research specialist, and Marty Kearns, program director, addressed policy making across different sectors that influence health, public safety and education.

Community-Based Strategies to Build Healthier Communities: Moderator William Lovett, New Jersey YMCA State Alliance executive director, led a discussion about what New Jersey communities are doing to create healthier environments in which to live, work, play and raise a family. The workshop looked at the NJ Healthy Communities Network Mini-Grant program and ways for communities to get involved and receive funding. Panelists were Janet Heroux, New Jersey Department of Health physical activity specialist, and Kate Kraft, PhD, national coalition director for America Walks.

Taking Steps in Early Care and Education to Healthy Success: Peri Nearon, director of external affairs and strategic initiatives at the New Jersey Department of Health, moderated a discussion about impacts arising from the launch of the Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative in five regions and new regulations aimed at creating healthier environments for the state’s youngest children. Speakers were Allison Gertel-Rosenberg, director of national prevention and practice at Nemours National Office of Policy and Prevention; Juliet Jones, MBA, early care and education state coordinator for the New Jersey Department of Health; and Gloria Stone-Mitchell, EdD, director of early care and education for Respond Inc..

The Role of Hospitals and Healthcare in Community Prevention and Engagement: Moderated by Maria Mera, New Jersey Hospital Association project manager, this session explored the role of hospitals in building healthier communities. Laura Ahern director of community outreach at Meridian Health; Margaret Drozd, MSN, RN, APRN-BC, from Saint Peter’s University Hospital; and Robert J. Remstein, DO, MBA, FACP, vice president of Accountable Care at Capital Health, discussed how hospitals can successfully facilitate resource sharing among partners and align hospital community benefit planning with community priorities to produce healthier population outcomes.

Schools: The Heart of a Healthy Community: This session, moderated by Kathleen Morgan, Rutgers University chair of Family & Community Health Sciences, focused on how to use the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids guidelines to improve school environments. Nancy Parello, communications director at Advocates for Children of New Jersey, and Susan B. Solleder, MS, school food service and nutrition consultant, shared classroom lessons based on improving access to healthy food and beverages for elementary and middle school students, making the healthy choice the easy choice, and providing opportunities for physical activity during and after school.

Building Active Communities Through Transportation Policy: Jerry Fried, NJAIM lead ambassador, moderated a discussion about public policy campaigns at state and local levels to advance the adoption and implementation of Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School policies. Charles Brown, senior research specialist at the New Jersey Bicycle & Pedestrian Resource Center, and Keith Benjamin, street scale campaign manager at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, discussed bicycle and pedestrian transportation planning and other active transportation improvements to increase physical activity in underserved and rural communities.

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