407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
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William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
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When it Comes to Fitness,

Leadership Matters

See Caption Below
By James J. Florio, Lucinda Florio
& Dr. Mehmet Oz
Girl Running - See Caption Below
For the first time in our nation's history, there are predictions that the current generration of americans will have a shorter life span than their parents.

Recently, we were asked to participate in a new effort in our state to help people get fit and lead more active lives. Known as the “Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC),” the effort supports mayors as champions of community health. The goal is to increase opportunities for New Jersey residents to participate in daily physical activity with a long-term goal of reducing the health care costs associated with obesity.

We were pleased to join the New Jersey State League of Municipalities to help promote this worthy project, because we all recognize that leadership plays a critical role in successfully implementing major cultural transformation. As catalysts for change, mayors in New Jersey can help alter the deadly sedentary path on which many communities and their citizens now find themselves.

We spend far too much time in our cars and on our couches. Sadly, our state is number one in America in the incidence of childhood obesity among low-income children ages 2 to 5. And according to new statistics from the New Jersey Department of Health & Human Services, obesity, for all age groups, has been rising steadily in the state since the nineties. Most alarming, for the first time in our nation’s history, there are predictions that the current generation of Americans will have a shorter life span than their parents.

Clearly, we need to change the status quo.

Through public-private partnerships, the MWC provides structure and resources for healthy community initiatives. By encouraging mayors to play a leadership role in supporting local opportunities for active, healthy lifestyles, the intent of the MWC is to improve health and make New Jersey a national leader in community-based health interventions. In fact, we have an ambitious goal of reducing the incidence of obesity in New Jersey by fully 5 percent in this decade.

In order to achieve that goal, local leaders, including mayors, municipal council and committee members, school superintendents and principals, and others will have to lead the way. There are many small things we can do which will make a big difference. For example, some communities have instituted a program called “the walking school bus,” whereby parents and school officials assist children in walking to their local school safely. This particular program has the added benefit of saving the school district on busing costs.

Many of these worthwhile programs are detailed in the Mayors Wellness Campaign “Toolbox,” which was

People exercision - See Caption Below
With strong leadership from across the spectrum of stakeholders, we can make a difference in addressing this national health crisis.

distributed to each and every mayor in the state. An “on-line” version of the toolbox is also available at www.mayorswellnesscampaign.org.

Interest in the program has extended well beyond mayors and council members. The business community can be one of our biggest advocates. The business community benefits from a strong labor market and being in a municipality with the increasing property values that result from active communities.  One particularly noteworthy example is the efforts of the Somerset County Business Partnership, a county-wide business advocacy organization that is aggressively promoting the Mayors Wellness Campaign as an important new community health and wellness initiative for all 21 Somerset County municipalities. The MWC has been designated as a “priority project” of the Business Partnership to encourage all community stakeholders to join in the fight against obesity by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

The Business Partnership is coordinating with the business community to take a leading role in partnering with the municipalities to establish a “Vision for Community Health and Wellness.” And the Partnership’s RideWise (transportation management association) staff is working with member businesses to implement “Bike to Work” and other alternative transportation programs for healthy living, in support of the MWC effort. What’s more, like Metuchen, RideWise is supporting the development of a “Municipal Walking Map,” designed to both contribute to healthy lifestyles while supporting local businesses. Businesses can be a powerful ally to municipal leaders as they develop and then implement wellness initiatives.

With strong leadership from across the spectrum of stakeholders, we can make a difference in addressing this national health crisis. Please join other mayors around the state in leading the campaign for healthier lifestyles—together we can ensure a healthier future for our communities.


James J. Florio served as Governor of the State of New Jersey from 1990 through 1994. Mr. Florio is Founding Partner of the law firm of Florio Perrucci Steinhardt and Fader, LLC based in Phillipsburg. Mr. Florio is a University Professor for Public Policy and Administration at the Bloustein Graduate School of Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

A former school teacher, Mrs. Florio traveled the state as an advocate of programs which emphasized reading as a path to enhancing the education of children.

Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. is Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University. He directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program NJLM - Fitness - Leadership Matters

407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
Change Font Size
Larger
| Smaller

When it Comes to Fitness,

Leadership Matters

See Caption Below
By James J. Florio, Lucinda Florio
& Dr. Mehmet Oz
Girl Running - See Caption Below
For the first time in our nation's history, there are predictions that the current generration of americans will have a shorter life span than their parents.

Recently, we were asked to participate in a new effort in our state to help people get fit and lead more active lives. Known as the “Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC),” the effort supports mayors as champions of community health. The goal is to increase opportunities for New Jersey residents to participate in daily physical activity with a long-term goal of reducing the health care costs associated with obesity.

We were pleased to join the New Jersey State League of Municipalities to help promote this worthy project, because we all recognize that leadership plays a critical role in successfully implementing major cultural transformation. As catalysts for change, mayors in New Jersey can help alter the deadly sedentary path on which many communities and their citizens now find themselves.

We spend far too much time in our cars and on our couches. Sadly, our state is number one in America in the incidence of childhood obesity among low-income children ages 2 to 5. And according to new statistics from the New Jersey Department of Health & Human Services, obesity, for all age groups, has been rising steadily in the state since the nineties. Most alarming, for the first time in our nation’s history, there are predictions that the current generation of Americans will have a shorter life span than their parents.

Clearly, we need to change the status quo.

Through public-private partnerships, the MWC provides structure and resources for healthy community initiatives. By encouraging mayors to play a leadership role in supporting local opportunities for active, healthy lifestyles, the intent of the MWC is to improve health and make New Jersey a national leader in community-based health interventions. In fact, we have an ambitious goal of reducing the incidence of obesity in New Jersey by fully 5 percent in this decade.

In order to achieve that goal, local leaders, including mayors, municipal council and committee members, school superintendents and principals, and others will have to lead the way. There are many small things we can do which will make a big difference. For example, some communities have instituted a program called “the walking school bus,” whereby parents and school officials assist children in walking to their local school safely. This particular program has the added benefit of saving the school district on busing costs.

Many of these worthwhile programs are detailed in the Mayors Wellness Campaign “Toolbox,” which was

People exercision - See Caption Below
With strong leadership from across the spectrum of stakeholders, we can make a difference in addressing this national health crisis.

distributed to each and every mayor in the state. An “on-line” version of the toolbox is also available at www.mayorswellnesscampaign.org.

Interest in the program has extended well beyond mayors and council members. The business community can be one of our biggest advocates. The business community benefits from a strong labor market and being in a municipality with the increasing property values that result from active communities.  One particularly noteworthy example is the efforts of the Somerset County Business Partnership, a county-wide business advocacy organization that is aggressively promoting the Mayors Wellness Campaign as an important new community health and wellness initiative for all 21 Somerset County municipalities. The MWC has been designated as a “priority project” of the Business Partnership to encourage all community stakeholders to join in the fight against obesity by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

The Business Partnership is coordinating with the business community to take a leading role in partnering with the municipalities to establish a “Vision for Community Health and Wellness.” And the Partnership’s RideWise (transportation management association) staff is working with member businesses to implement “Bike to Work” and other alternative transportation programs for healthy living, in support of the MWC effort. What’s more, like Metuchen, RideWise is supporting the development of a “Municipal Walking Map,” designed to both contribute to healthy lifestyles while supporting local businesses. Businesses can be a powerful ally to municipal leaders as they develop and then implement wellness initiatives.

With strong leadership from across the spectrum of stakeholders, we can make a difference in addressing this national health crisis. Please join other mayors around the state in leading the campaign for healthier lifestyles—together we can ensure a healthier future for our communities.


James J. Florio served as Governor of the State of New Jersey from 1990 through 1994. Mr. Florio is Founding Partner of the law firm of Florio Perrucci Steinhardt and Fader, LLC based in Phillipsburg. Mr. Florio is a University Professor for Public Policy and Administration at the Bloustein Graduate School of Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

A former school teacher, Mrs. Florio traveled the state as an advocate of programs which emphasized reading as a path to enhancing the education of children.

Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. is Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University. He directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital.


Article published in November 2006, New Jersey Municipalities

 

 

 

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