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Grantee Blog 2020

New Growth in the Summer

Smalley School in Bound Brook and Alexander Batcho Intermediate School (ABIS) in Manville both continue to excel in the implementation of their New Jersey Health Communities Network programming. During the 2020-2021 academic year, both schools successfully tended to indoor gardens, AeroGardens. Additionally, ABIS ran CATCH programming in its two Special Education classroom from January to June.

The schools’ enthusiasm over the AeroGardens led to them planting multiple times with different produce within the classroom. It also led to the confirmation of expanding their garden programs. After both schools expressed strong interest in the addition of outdoor gardens, the NJHCN team met with members from RWJBarnabas Health who have successfully launched outdoor gardens at schools throughout the state.

With planning calls and site visits in May and June, the administration and teachers at Smalley and ABIS have prepared the blueprints for what will become their schools’ outdoor gardens. ABIS will continue to work with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and their Master Gardeners to create raised bed gardens this summer. Smalley School is working with consults on the utilizations of EarthBoxes or something similar in their school’s courtyard area. Both schools will continue to maintain their AeroGardens as they expand their programs to outdoor gardening.

In addition to its growing gardens, ABIS has also kept up its momentum when it comes to physical activity outside of Physical Education. Erica Gaona from SNAP-Ed at Zufall Health led the CATCH program in both Special Education classrooms since January. “The kids definitely enjoyed our mini activities.  The last activity before the school year was over was a mindful activity. In which we shared what makes us smile and what are we grateful for.  They were all very open to sharing and mentioned things like, family, memes, pets, friends, warm weather, and many other things.”  These types of activities have been beneficial not only for the students, but for the teachers as well. CATCH will continue to be offered at ABIS at the start of the school year in September.

About the Grantee

Somerset Health Care Foundation

Healthier Somerset is a coalition created to improve the health and well-being of those who live and work in Somerset County. We promote healthy lifestyles through collaboration among 50 partner organizations representing thousands of Somerset County residents, businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, public health officials, healthcare providers, government, and faith-based organizations.