Moving from Doing Good, to Making a Difference, to Making a Change

As with our first cohort of NJHI: Building a Culture of Health in NJ – Communities Moving to Action grantees, our 2016 grantees recently wrapped up their first grant year, reaching some major milestones – they participated in the intensive Boundary Spanning Leadership Institute, expanded and strengthened their coalitions and leadership teams, and developed Blueprints for Action that will guide their work for the next three grant years and beyond. Similar to their 2015 predecessors, these 2016 grantees represent a diversity of NJ communities in size, geography and socio-economic indicators.

What are some of the issues that exist in NJ communities that these coalitions are determined to improve?

What are some of the issues that exist in NJ communities that these coalitions are determined to improve? As our grantees recently shared with each other:

  • Some Paterson residents need multiple buses to reach St. Joseph’s, while others must ride into NYC, then back into Paterson, in order to reach St. Joseph’s.
  • In Asbury Park, 96% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch.
  • Thirty percent of Freehold Borough children ages 5-17 live in households that cannot afford basic necessities.

To celebrate their transition from planning to action, leaders from these 10 coalitions recently attended a “Share the Impact” event, the capstone to the Boundary Spanning Leadership Institute, and shared their progress, stories and lessons learned. The event served as a forum to tell how their work has already begun to impact health outcomes in their respective communities, connect over shared health priorities and identify collaborative opportunities.

Among the highlights:

  • The Cape Regional Wellness Alliance recently presented a resolution to declare the month of November as “ACEs Awareness” month in Cape May. This coalition of 27 community-based organizations has identified Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) as a health priority in building a healthier community. Partnering with the Lower Cape May Regional School District, the coalition’s plans include launching a student-driven awareness campaign. Contact the project director to learn more and become a coalition partner
  • In Hunterdon County, the Hunterdon Partnership for Health identified obesity as a health priority. To address this, the coalition is approaching food as a substance that can be misused, particularly when other symptoms or indicators of stress are present. Collaborating with school partners, this grantee is launching the evidence-based social-emotional learning, Mind Up program in local schools to help students cope with stress. Reach out to the project director to learn more
  • Members of Healthier Somerset’s Building Bridges to Better Health – Bound Brook and South Bound Brook Initiative shared that they seek to address the prevalence of diabetes as well as focus on housing, employment and educational attainment as key health factors impacting their community. The coalition also seeks to engage Millennials living in their community primarily for its access to public transportation, and whose voices are not yet part of the health conversation. Offer your suggestions to the project director
  • Thirty percent of Plainfield youth do not graduate high school on time, and data indicates that ninety 11th and 12th graders are lacking the physical education credits required to graduate on time. Leveraging community relationships and resources, the Healthy Plainfield coalition has partnered with school district officials, the YMCA of Plainfield, local libraries and the health director of the Mayor’s Wellness campaign to impact health outcomes by addressing high school graduation rates. Thirty Plainfield youth will now have an opportunity to earn their physical education requirements through the YMCA’s programs and facilities, and substitute a curriculum developed by the Mayor’s Wellness Council nutritionist for their classroom education requirement. The YMCA’s class offerings reflect the coalition’s learning that many Plainfield students often work part-time to support themselves or their families and need flexibility to meet this graduation. Reach out to the project director to learn more

Discover the work underway in all of the communities supported by NJHI: Building a Culture of Health – Communities Moving to Action, Round 2: Asbury ParkBound Brook and South Bound BrookBridgetonCape MayFreeholdHunterdon CountyPerth AmboyPatersonPlainfield and Toms River.

These grantees also share updates from their perspectives. Visit the Grantee Blog

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