New Jersey’s Second Cohort of Next Generation of Community Leaders Prepare to Launch Their Projects for Building a Culture of Health

“I think talking to elected officials is like talking to anyone else. You just have to be prepared, and approach them with “this is my community, and you need to listen to me,” offered Newark Leaders of Health member Kenton Hall, to his Next Generation Community Leaders (NGCL) workshop group.

Some, in this workshop group comprised of Paterson’s Youth CARES team and Newark’s Leaders of Health, responded by nodding in agreement with their fellow Next Generation Community Leader’s perspective. All of the youth then continued developing elevator speeches that could galvanize support for their work to build a Culture of Health for their families, friends and neighbors.

These youth represent nearly 300 that have participated in New Jersey Health Initiatives’ (NJHI) Next Generation Community Leaders initiative, which is based on the premise that all youth should have the tools and opportunity to partner in building healthier communities. This second cohort of 10 community teams has been learning about local health priorities and, in partnership with mayors and other elected officials, community leaders, local social service providers, cross-sector coalitions, residents and stakeholders, designing projects they will undertake this summer. The teams gathered at Rutgers University–Camden to reveal their summer projects, participate in leadership development activities, and build citizenship skills such as how to serve on local boards and commissions or file an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to advocate for their communities.

Throughout July, the Next Generation Community Leaders will implement their projects to promote meaningful change in New Jersey. The Paterson team intends to address food insecurity through a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment campaign, while the Newark team is partnering with the South Ward Children’s Alliance of Neighborhood Youth Allies to connect families with existing health resources.

Throughout July, the Next Generation Community Leaders will implement their projects to promote meaningful change in New Jersey.

Below is an overview of the Next Generation Community Leaders teams’ 2019 summer projects. Get a statewide view of their progress, and connect with the nearest team at #NJLeaders2030. Upon completion of their projects, these youth will then join a statewide alumni network of nearly 300 Next Generation Community Leaders.

  • Atlantic City’s team will partner with Stockton University, AtlantiCare Foundation and the City of Atlantic City to help provide anti-bullying education to participants in the community’s summer schools and camps.
  • The Bound Brook team will enhance their walkable community by installing a Storybook Trail to attract young children to reading and walking. In addition, the team will address food insecurity by raising awareness and enrollment for eligible community members in the federal SNAP program.
  • Bridgeton’s team will address summer hunger by building on their alumni team’s summer feeding program. The team will connect eligible households to existing services that support family well-being, including SNAP and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
  • Through their “The Grandbabies Project,” the team from Camden and Pennsauken will connect seniors with transportation resources and inform them of and assist with enrollment in other valuable resources for which they may be eligible.
  • Elizabeth’s team will work to revitalize vacant lots by installing community gardens, and help educate and enroll eligible residents in the federal SNAP program.
  • Newark’s team will partner with the South Ward Children’s Alliance of Neighborhood Youth Allies to connect families with available health resources which include services that promote resiliency. The youth team will also begin the process of joining the Alliance’s advisory board to sustain this work.
  • The Paterson team is collaborating with Habitat for Humanity, United Way and additional community partners to improve access to green space by revitalizing neighborhood gardens.
  • Perth Amboy’s team is establishing a new summer feeding site for children and launching a food delivery service to homebound seniors. In addition, the team is collaborating with business partners and the City of Perth Amboy to promote the testing of residential water for lead.

  • Secaucus’ youth team is auditing community parks and sharing recommendations with City Councilmembers about necessary changes that can improve residents’ access to the parks and promote increased physical activity by park visitors.
  • The Trenton youth will work to revitalize a community park, where they will host programs to connect residents and neighbors with available resources that promote family health. The youth will also meet regularly with city officials to advocate on behalf of their community.

Hear Next Generation Community Leaders alumni reflect on their work and experiences

Learn more about the NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders initiative here.

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