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MWC LogoMayors Wellness Campaign
Is Moving Along

Emily Littman
By Emily Littman
Executive Director
Mayors Wellness Campaign

As summer was heating up all across the Garden State, so were the programs and activities of the Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC). A collaboration between the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI) and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities (NJSLOM), the MWC is nearing its fifth anniversary this fall and already counts nearly 300 of the state’s mayors as active participants.

The MWC 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 health care costs secondary to obesity. 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 2010, two more towns (Nutley and Hillsborough) received the coveted MWC “New Jersey Healthy Town” designation, bringing the number of towns honored to eight. The others are Bridgewater, Clifton, Hamilton Township (Mercer County), Madison, Parsippany, and Woodbridge. In order to be designated a community must:

nurse taking a waist measurement
Bernards Township Mayor Scott Spitzer with Karen Ellis, RN during the official weigh-in for the Toxic Waistlines competition.

• be a Mayors Wellness Campaign participant for one year or more;
• demonstrate sustainable programs in each of the Mayors Wellness Campaign categories: Youth in Motion, Seniors in Motion, Employers in Motion and Community in Motion; and;
• be willing to share its program information with other communities.

The MWC staff is currently reviewing applications from several additional towns seeking the designation.

Nutley, the newest Healthy Town, launched a Mayor’s Weight Loss Challenge this summer. The program lasted for 16 weeks and included a running club and 5K training.

A second “Toxic Waistlines” competition was launched on June 1 in Bernards Township and 140 of the town’s residents signed up to compete. A grant to fund the initiative was provided by the National Business Coalition on Health. The participants competed for prizes to see who could lose the most weight and “toxic waistline” inches over the summer.

The Mayors Wellness Campaign effort in Boonton recently announced a new and innovative way to get residents fit with a “Walk to Market” initiative designed to get people to walk to the popular farmers market in town. On the first day of the market, the first 100 people who walked there received a free market bag.

The Mayor of Chatham announced he is considering an outdoor smoking ban in park and recreational areas. In making the announcement, Chatham Mayor V. Nelson Vaughan III said, “Certainly it’s part of my mayor’s wellness campaign.” Mayor Vaughan also introduced a program this July called “Know Your Numbers” which challenged citizens to be aware of their heart rate, BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure to encourage healthy living.

The City of Perth Amboy held a “Put Your Community in Motion” health fair as part of its Mayors Wellness Campaign. I participated in the event with Mayor Wilda Diaz and representatives of Wegmans supermarket.

I also joined Mayor Jonathan Hornik in Marlboro’s annual Mayor’s Bike and Stroll on June 5.

Planning for another “Mayors Healthy Cook-off” is underway and will feature a “barbeque” theme. The event is tentatively scheduled for Lincoln Park in the fall.

Two communities reached out to children to emphasize healthy eating earlier this year. Plainfield held a “Kids Iron Chef” event on March 20, and Morris Township hosted a Kids Healthy Chef Day on May 14.

Shore community North Wildwood again held a big summer Mayors Wellness Campaign push through the city’s recreation department. Activities included a state-of-the-art free, fitness/exercise room, adult basketball and flag football leagues, aerobics, yoga, and Zumba classes, runs, walks, and marathons like “Sandblast Beach Run” and “Tri/Du” in the Wildwoods.

presentation of Healthy Town Flag

The Borough of Bay Head has given their Mayors Wellness Campaign the slogan “GO Bay Head!” and had numerous activities throughout the summer.

Belmar took a unique approach to its Mayors Wellness Campaign by sponsoring a skateboarding safety event. The skate park safety clinic, which was free to the public, provided healthy snacks and water for those skateboarding, as well as the chance to win helmets for skateboarding and bicycling through raffles.

Mayor Maura De Nicola of Franklin Lakes teamed up with the Mayors Wellness Campaign to sponsor a Teen Kula for Karma family yoga & fitness day in April. The community also held a Bike-a-thon and Community bike ride to benefit Camp No Limits in June. Over 100 bicyclists participated, and a total of $3,800 was raised for Camp No Limits.

Piscataway announced that it would hold a “Biggest Loser Piscataway” contest for people who live or work in the town. Beginning in July, the program finishes on October 4, when a final weigh-in will take place and prizes will be awarded.

The mayors of Madison (Morris County) and Ramsey (Bergen County) know how to get their communities in motion. Both towns have walking clubs that meet daily to tour the community and get exercise at the same time. The Rose City Steppers have been active in Madison for many years, and Ramsey has just started a new program of “Ramsey Walks” for its citizens.

These are just a handful of the scores of MWC activities taking place across New Jersey. Is your town participating? Visit www.mayorswellnesscampaign.org  now to get involved.

 

 

 

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