Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County 4-H Youth Development Program led this three-year project, in which a total of 30 youth from Bound Brook, ages 14-21, received guidance from trained community-based coaches, to better understand topics around population health, develop leadership skills, and implement self-designed projects to make their communities healthier. Through this project, the youth participants gained the skills, knowledge, and confidence to work with municipal governments, cross-sector coalitions focused on health, school boards, and other organizations to build healthier and more vibrant communities. The youth are also participating in a statewide alumni network to stay connected to their peers as they continue on their leadership paths and move into the next phases of their lives. To advance this work in Bound Brook, Somerset County 4-H Youth Development Program partnered with Middle Earth, an at-risk youth service provider, and the NJHI-funded Healthier Somerset Coalition provide youth a robust experience, equipping them to work toward building a healthier Bound Brook. These Bound Brook youth represented one of 10 New Jersey communities supported by the NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders initiative.
In the first grant year, a team of Bound Brook youth worked to address traffic safety and enhance their walkable community through creative placemaking. In 2018, the team installed a parklet and murals in front of the Bound Brook pool, Smalley Elementary School, LaMonte-Annex Elementary School and along Hamilton Avenue. The team also evaluated the use of temporary crosswalks in their community. In Summer 2019, a new youth team worked to implement environmental-change strategies by installing a Storybook Trail to attract young children to reading and walking. In addition, the team addressed food insecurity by raising awareness and enrollment for eligible community members in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Follow the team on Twitter, plus
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Hear alumni from the first-year Next Generation Community Leaders teams reflect on their work, the value of meaningful experiences and authentic adult-youth partnerships, and share new insights that developed a broader perspective.
View recommendations from this initiative:
Atkins, B. and Hart, D. Principles for Engaging Youth as Partners to Build Healthier Communities. Grantmakers in Health – Views from the Field. January 28, 2020.
Follow the latest news coverage regarding NJHI: Next Generation Community Leaders:
Students Create Park to Promote Healthy Living
Tapinto.net/ Blumberg, A. (2019, August 20).
Youth Leaders Revitalize Bound Brook Park
Tapinto.net. (2019, July13).
Butterfly Sculptures to Beautify Bound Brook
Broadway World. (2019, June 16).
Teens Paint Bound Brook Crosswalks for Pedestrian Safety Awareness
News 12 New Jersey. (2018, July 30).
Bound Brook Students Work to Improve Quality of Life in Town
MyCentralJersey.com/ Antonucci, A. (2018, July 21).
MyCentralJersey.com (2017, August 11).
NJ Spotlight. (2017, July 12).
SNJ Today. (2017, July 12).