Description: With the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance serving as state program office, the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK) connects and supports coalitions in five communities (Camden, New Brunswick, Newark, Trenton, and Vineland) that are working to reduce childhood obesity and increase community health through environmental and policy change.
Improving access to healthy, affordable food
Increasing the number of safe public places where children and families can be physically active
Promoting healthy eating in schools and other locations
Educating residents about good nutrition
“Our job is to go into communities and say, ‘Do you know you should have sidewalks, and your children should have the right to walk to school, and you should have access to fresh food?’”—Darrin Anderson, deputy director of NJPHK
NJPHK also collaborates and conducts policy advocacy at the state level. In 2013, the NJPHK and its partners adopted a collective impact approach and are using it to expand this effort to more than 30 communities statewide.
The communities have installed playgrounds, bike lanes, and crosswalks that enable residents to be more physically active, and Complete Streets policies have been passed to include those features in future development.
Community gardens and mobile markets bring fresh food to neighborhoods, and dozens of corner stores and bodegas have begun selling more nutritious options.
School wellness policies are being strengthened, enabling more children to concentrate on learning rather than hunger.
The strategies used in the five pilot communities are now spreading statewide through a newly formed New Jersey Healthy Communities Network.
The work in Camden is described in a sidebar at the end of the report.
“We’re strengthening communities to be part of a decision-making process for change.”—former RWJF Senior Program Officer, Dwayne Proctor