Grantee Blog

Reporting Our Impact

As our grant work for this funding cycle draws to a close we can share our accomplishments and substantiated data.  The Raritan Valley YMCA, in partnership with the Healthier Middlesex coalition, has successfully mobilized local camps to implement policy regarding healthier concessions and food service with reduced sugar drink and healthier snack options and secured signed policies by camps, concessions stand operators, and government authorities that agreed to these initiatives.

Furthermore the Y obtained additional funding to provide free swimming pool access to underserved youngsters in New Brunswick.  This opportunity provided increased physical activity to over 300 children through lifesaving swim instruction programs.  What a collaboration!  There may be no better exercise and opportunity for underserved youth in a riverfront community that has no public pool!

What we have not been able to measure, other than by the numbers of children served and testamonials, is the impact of our health educational programs brought to summer camps.  We do know that we have shaped camp and agency policy for better food choices at camps, concessions, and vending.

Yet, one never knows what goes through the mind of a child.  What health messages are they really hearing and processing?  While those answers we do not have, we do know that healthful environments and realistic public policy helps to formulate more nutritious food choices and increased physical activity. Long term, this effort helps to shape community healthy towards overcoming obesity, and social determinants that shape eating and exercise habits.

Our coalition has voted to continue to expand our efforts and serve as champions for children’s health and well-being through policy and environmental change!  Review our post summer impact report data here:

The Raritan Valley YMCA in conjunction with Healthier Middlesex Coalition, a partnership between Saint Peter’s University Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, harnessed resources and community partners to collectively address and impact community health issues.  By working together, the partnership has delivered on equitably meeting the needs of a diverse county.   This summer, coalition partners generated highly visible events and grass roots efforts that promoted environmental and policy change, to help decrease the prevalence and severity of leading chronic health conditions affecting Middlesex County.

The collective impact was impressive.  Highlights include:

Eight policy change statements were signed by local camp directors that included a MOU with policy adoption criteria and suggested policies.

Overall, 2,076 children were impacted by increased physical activity, healthier camp foods, and the reduction or elimination of sugar sweet beverages and snacks in the camp environment.  Camps were shown how to increase servings of more fruits, vegetable, and water.

Nine walk and bicycle rodeo events conducted by Keep Middlesex Moving reached 430 children to promote youth walking and bicycling while teaching and demonstrating safe practices.

The Middlesex County Health Department’s conducted 16 education sessions to camps speaking on sun safety.  Sun safety presentations reached 280 camp youngsters throughout the county and doubled the impact with health messages provided to parents via informative literature.

Fitness was brought to Middlesex Borough and Middlesex Community School camps by Robert Wood Johnson Rahway Fitness & Wellness Center at Carteret, energizing 140 youth towards life-long wellness habits in the process!

An interactive YMCA water safety program series touched 435 lives with a message swim for fun and exercise but swim safely.  Provided by the Raritan Valley YMCA, swim safe coloring books were also disbursed.

The Raritan Bay YMCA provided a CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) training prior to the camp season that taught camp staff a unique physical activity curriculum and toolbox to disperse the activities.  Forty camp employees were trained to implement the CATCH activity program.

In an effort to encourage physical activity and team work into the curriculum to summer camps across Middlesex County the Healthier Middlesex Coalition distributed 7 physical activity equipment kits and 2 all-time favorite game kits to participating camps.

What we learned:

  1. Program implementation requires camps to develop policy that makes comprehensive well-being activities part of camps.
  2. Agencies working together multiplies impact!
  3. Continue program in 2020 with goals of enrolling additional camps and increasing numbers served.
  4. Host a camp director training in early winter to educate and enroll new camps.


Thank you – we had a great time participating!  We really appreciate the healthful programs and how it adds to the children’s experience and their lives.  We had about 320 children attend the summer camps.

Thank you,

Andrea M. Costas-Baay

Highland Park Recreation Camps


My campers, staff and I were very impressed with the presentations that we scheduled with HKC! The presenters were knowledgeable and imparted the information for the respective sessions very eloquently and in a manner that was easily comprehended by even our youngest campers.  I am looking forward to future presentations by your group next year!

Best regards,

Barbara Ferris

Middlesex Recreation Camps


The bike rodeo was enthusiastically received thanks to Chris of KMM!  We learned that only 1/3 of our campers knew how to ride a bike so we added weekly bicycling into our camp programming.  Our vending machine and camp food sales are regulated to include 0 sugar sweet beverages and low sugar and fat snacks.  Snacks are fresh fruits and vegetables or whole grain products.  There are water jugs on camp picnic tables.  The camp culture has changed to improve child health since I began here 20 years ago.

Brenda Dempsey

Camp Director, Raritan Valley YMCA





About the Grantee

Raritan Valley YMCA

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. To learn more about the Raritan Valley YMCA programs, health and wellness, visit or call 732-257-4114. The Y is located at 144 Tices Lane in East Brunswick.