Agencies Working Together Multiply Impact!
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:
Ten policy change statements were signed by local camp directors that included a MOU with policy adoption criteria and suggested policies.
One municipal resolution endorsing the healthy camp policies for Milltown Borough’s summer recreation camps.
Overall, 2318 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.
Two bicycle rodeos conducted by Keep Middlesex Moving reached 260 children to promote youth walking and bicycling while teaching and demonstrating safe practices.
The Middlesex County Health Department’s visited 2 camps to speak on sun safety. Sun safety presentations reached 194 camp youngsters throughout the county and doubled the impact with health messages provided to parents via informative literature.
Fitness was brought to Spotswood’s camp by Robert Wood Johnson Rahway Fitness & Wellness Center at Carteret, energizing 42 youth towards life-long wellness habits in the process!
An interactive YMCA water safety program series touched 369 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. Twenty-four camp employees were trained to implement the CATCH activity program.
In effort to bring the CATCH curriculum to summer camps across Middlesex County the Healthier Middlesex Coalition distributed 9 physical activity equipment kits to participating camps.
What we learned:
- Program implementation requires camps to develop policy that makes comprehensive well-being activities part of camps.
- Agencies working together multiplies impact!
Next steps: Meet with personnel from the NJ Department of Health to explore the possibility of updating camp policies under the NJ State Youth Camp Safety Act to reflect those of the NJ state childcare regulations which mandate specific healthy eating and physical activity requirements.
About the Grantee
The Raritan Valley YMCA is for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Located in East Brunswick, our work for the New Jersey Healthy Communities Network has reached throughout the County of Middlesex. We are leaders in promoting policy and environmental change and lead by example, working with many agencies, schools, and governing bodies in our efforts.