Paterson is on the Move

NJHI 2016: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action, Round 2 Passaic County Food Policy Council

The City of Paterson is on the move! We are excited to see multiple projects align to advance community safety. And we have been asking ourselves: “How do we authentically engage community residents in implementing community safety strategies?”  This question has been shaping our work as we implement ‘upstream’ initiatives like redeveloping gardens and parks, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), and addressing abandoned properties.

How do we authentically engage community residents in implementing community safety strategies?”

We are excited to address the question through collaboration with one of our coalition partner’s new initiative, Youth CARES. Youth CARES is an amazing initiative to lift up the next generation of community leaders committed to building a Culture of Health.  We are supporting these local youth as they learn about how to build healthy communities and create a community health project to work on this summer.

As the project director of the Communities Moving to Action initiative, I was looking forward to working with these youth. But I was blown away by their insights, energy, and passion for their communities. It has been inspiring to hear their ideas, answer their perceptive questions and support them as they design their project. Even though our coalition has been holding community engagement meetings, we have not been able to find an opportunity to authentically engage youth. We are grateful for this opportunity to listen to the Youth CARES members and hear what they are passionate about.These youth leaders have had a growing interest in improving community safety in Paterson and are specifically interested in advancing the CPTED strategies and redeveloping gardens and parks. We look forward to working with this team of youth as they bring their creativity, energy and insights to these initiatives.

For more information about the Building a Culture of Health: Blueprint for Action in Passaic County please contact Mary Celis, Director of Health Initiatives, United Way of Passaic County: or visit our Facebook page: @PassaicFood.

For more information about Youth CARES, please contact Vicky Hernandez, Chief Program Officer, New Jersey Community Development Corporation: or follow the youth on Facebook (@njcdc), Twitter (@NJCDC) or Instagram (@patersonyouthcares).

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Mary Celis
The United Way of Passaic County