New Jersey Health Initiatives - A Better State of Health
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program
Community Health Survey: Stories from the Community
April 20, 2017 / Healthy Plainfield

We were well into the process of collecting survey data in our Healthy Plainfield initiative, when we began an early analysis of the survey results. Upon review, our leadership team realized the coalition needed to engage a more diverse group of Plainfield community members. Working with our school liaison, several team members engaged students at Barack Obama High School as well as families and faculty at Cedarbrook Elementary.

Entering Barack Obama High School, our tote bags filled with surveys, our goal was to discuss health and the community with students. Both the students and the faculty actively participated in completing the survey and sharing their views. Many of the students play sports and admitted to eating a bit more junk food than they should, but overall, they were enthusiastic about discussing the ways they stay healthy! During our open discussion, we learned so much from each other and by the end, everyone realized the importance of creating a systems change at every level.

The survey team was also invited to attend the Chinese New Year Celebration at Cedarbrook Elementary School. The evening’s event featured cultural activities and food. As we began to talk with attendees about the survey, we were able to connect the evening’s activities directly to what we hope to accomplish with the Healthy Plainfield initiative. Our goals include addressing how factors such as the environment, food and social interaction can have an impact on our health. As we interacted with parents, we were able to educate them about why eating healthy and staying physically active at an early age can create better health outcomes as an adult and how these behaviors can prevent the onset of diseases later in life. While parents and faculty completed the survey, we had the opportunity to educate students about what they can do to stay healthy.

We can now analyze data that is more representative of our community to guide our work in making the healthy choice the easy choice. Meanwhile, those students and families have begun to realize the choices they can already make to take control of their health. After all, it is the power of choice that allows us to make the most sustainable change!

Photo captions, top to bottom: Our Healthy Plainfield leadership team conducts survey at Barack Obama HS. A parent at Cedarbrook Elementary School completes the Healthy Plainfield survey.

 

Project
Author
Jennifer Keefer, Graduate Student at Rutgers University & Tina Christmas, Undergraduate Student at Rutgers University
Organization
United Way of Greater Union County