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Belmar Gets In Step
with the Mayors
Wellness Campaign

Claire Deicke
By Claire Deicke

In June of 2008, the Mayor and Council of Belmar adopted a resolution declaring The Mayor’s Wellness Campaign a community initiative. The resolution states the goal of The Mayor’s Wellness Campaign is “to promote healthy, active living of Belmar’s residents through education,” and a steering committee would “facilitate the distribution of health-related information and promote health-related activities and programs throughout the community.”

Belmar is officially registered with the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign (MWC) at the state level with The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, Emily Littman, director. Presently, the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign Committee is a four member panel: Christine Stoner, a certified nutrition counselor; Connie Gutierrez, an employee of Health Net; Michael Campbell, Belmar’s Recreation Director; and Councilwoman Claire Deicke, who chairs the committee. Over the past two years, the steering committee has provided the community with a number of activities to accomplish goals stated in the ordinance.

The MWC Committee has organized health fairs in 2008 and 2009 with another slated for September 18, 2010.

The events were held at Taylor Pavilion on the boardwalk, and have been very well attended. A number of health professionals and agencies have participated with on-site consultations and screenings. Chiropractors, optometrists, representatives of the Monmouth-Ocean County Dental Society, physical therapists, and hearing specialists were among health professionals participating in both fairs.

see caption below
(l to r) Art Veilleux, a Belmar Physical Therapist, greets Mayor Ken Pringle during the town’s annual Mayors Wellness Campaign Health Fair.

At the 2009 fair the town was fortunate to have a physician and his staff offer flu and pneumonia shots. This service attracted many people from the area. Members of the Visiting Nurses Association of Central Jersey Inc. / Prevention Resource Network conducted glucose and blood pressure screenings. The Monmouth County Board of Health employees brought information about services offered by that agency. Monmouth Medical Center’s community outreach program offered similar services. The K Hovnanian Children’s Hospital of The Jersey Shore University Medical Center informed the public about that center’s programs for children. Tables were set up with healthy snacks including apples and cookies baked with all-natural ingredients. The Belmar Woman’s Club held blood drives that benefited the Central Jersey Blood Center during both fairs. A local yoga instructor and her students demonstrated yoga movements and relaxation techniques. A dance instructor had students of various ages, including seniors citizens, perform routines taught in her classes.

In October of 2008, the MWC collaborated with the Toms River Branch of The American Cancer Society and offered skin sun damage screenings to area residents. The session drew a huge turnout, with over 100 individuals evaluated.

Christine Stoner, the team’s nutrition counselor, said, “Our country is experiencing a health crisis. This is brought on mainly from our busy lifestyles, which are hectic and fast paced. This way of living doesn’t include time to prepare meals and eat the way our ancestors did. We are experiencing an epidemic of obesity and increase of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Unfortunately, this generation is passing these habits to our children and this is the first generation ever that will not outlive their parents.”

During the first year of Belmar’s Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, the topic of proper nutrition for children was brought to the attention of school officials and parent groups. Ms. Stoner spoke to parents from both The Belmar Elementary School and St. Rose Grammar School about foods high in nutritional value that would also appeal to the taste buds of children. She recommended foods and meals which provide youngsters with nutrients necessary for maintaining good health.

Ms. Stoner also went before a breast cancer support group called Belmar Cares, and offered tips on foods that could help the women remain cancer-free.

Our senior citizens were not forgotten. MWC sponsored a program for seniors at a gathering in April of 2009. Dr. Vera Gupta, an area chiropractor, spoke to a large number of our senior residents on the subject of osteoporosis, explaining what the condition is, and how to prevent it. The committee sponsored a walk for seniors in the gym located at our municipal complex.

According to health experts, walking is the best form of exercise for people of all ages. In an effort to keep our residents moving and in ship-shape, three community walks were arranged by the MWC committee. Besides the senior walk, a walk with Mayor Pringle was held in August of 2008 on Belmar’s boardwalk.

As part of our community out-reach, the MWC Committee sponsored a holiday food drive in collaboration with the Belmar Council of Churches. The event ran from early November through the first week in December. Food collection baskets were placed at the Belmar Municipal complex as well as the town library. The drive was a huge success, and we were able to replenish food pantries at three of our local churches with wholesome food items. Our plan is to do another drive during the spring.

members of the Visiting Nurses Association
The Visiting Nurses Association booth providesinformation during the annual Mayors Wellness Campainh Health Fair in Belmar

Advising our residents about how to maintain good health is a major goal, but safety topics are important as well. In August of 2009, the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign sponsored a safety clinic at the borough’s newly-erected skateboard park. Information was disseminated about the necessary protective gear that must be worn when a youngster is skateboarding, and also the fact that helmets are mandatory for people of all ages who frequent the park. It was a wonderful summer day, with many children, parents, teens and young adults attending.

At the February meeting our committee brain-stormed ideas about nutrition, and how to get the word out about healthy meals. After some deliberation, we decided to launch an online meal initiative. Recipes would be posted on the Belmar Website, and would have to meet the following criteria: the foods would have to be nutritious, inexpensive, and easy-to-prepare. Pasta Fagioli and collard greens soup are presently listed online, with other recipe ideas ready to be posted. To visit the site, go to www.belmar.com, and click on “health.” With the next page, go to Mayor’s Wellness Campaign in the gray band, and the word “recipe” will drop down. Click on the word, and the recipe directions will appear. The committee welcomes any and all recipes, as long as they meet the required criteria.

The Mayor’s Wellness Campaign committee of Belmar continues to consider program ideas that will benefit residents, and is committed to educating the public as to what is involved in leading happy, healthy lives. Positive feedback has been received from residents throughout the community thus far. The committee welcomes suggestions and ideas regarding future programs.

 

 


This article appeared in New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 87, Number 5, May 2010

 

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