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Mayors Are Making
Wellness a Priority

Melissa Kostinas
By Melissa A. Kostinas
Director, Mayors Wellness Campaign

Many of the towns damaged by Superstorm Sandy were Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC) participating towns. Our thoughts are with those who suffered as a result of this devastating event. The Mayors Wellness Campaign stands ready to do anything it can to help our partners.

It’s encouraging that many of the affected towns have continued to pursue their wellness goals, despite the storm damage. I had the pleasure of attending many events across the state with the mayors and their local Wellness Committees over the past couple of months. Below is an update of some of the events I was witness to this fall. Many new MWC programs have really made an effort to bring community members together to enjoy healthy activities. I am so proud of the work that our mayors are doing to promote healthier lifestyles.

Mt. Arlington MWC Hosts 5k Run for Fallen Officer The Mount Arlington Mayors Wellness Campaign and Mayor Arthur Ondish held the first Officer Joe Wargo Memorial 5K October 6 to benefit the local DARE program. The 198 runners raised over $8,000 for the Mount Arlington DARE program. The day was a great success, and Mt. Arlington plans to make the 5K a yearly event.

Maplewood Hosts Wellness Fair Maplewood Loves Wellness, Maplewood’s local MWC, hosted a Wellness Fair October 13 at the town’s Memorial Park. The event, sponsored in cooperation with Barnabas Health and the local YMCA, included a free Zumba class and healthy “Chair Yoga” instructions for the workplace. Participants also enjoyed salsa made with ingredients grown in the community garden, which is located near the council building.

Red Bank Holds ‘Kick Start Walk’ Mayor Pasquale Menna of Red Bank and his Mayors Wellness Team partnered with their local YMCA to host a one mile ‘Kick Start Walk’ around the marina on October 20. Over 100 people came out to celebrate the launch of the town’s Mayors Wellness Campaign. In honor of the event, the lawn at Riverside Gardens was decorated with the MWC logo.

People holding banner for Red Bank Mayor's Wellness Campaign
Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna and Councilman Michael DuPont kick off a walk. Red Bank’s Mayors Wellness Team partnered with the local YMCA to host a one mile ‘Kick Start Walk’ on October 20 around the town’s marina area.

Lincoln Park Hosts 5k On November 3, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy,

Lincoln Park held its Sixth Annual Beavertown 5k Fall Classic Run/Walk, even though much of the town lacked electricity. Mayor David Runfeldt and the local Mayors Wellness team thought it was important, because for many citizens the Fall Classic is the highlight of the year. Lincoln Park had a wonderful turn out of committed runners and walkers, despite the adversity residents were facing.

Runners in Mt Arlington 5K Race

Runners prepare to start a 5k race in Mount Arlington Township.

Tenafly Hosts Its First Wellness Event Mayor Peter Rustin and Tenafly’s Mayors Wellness Campaign leader Carl Trop hosted a Wellness Fair November 19, the first ever for Tenafly’s Mayors Wellness Campaign.

Los Angeles based fitness expert and author of "Breaking the Chains of Obesity, 107 Tools," Jennifer Zerling was the keynote speaker. Her power point presentation was designed to inspire people to eat more healthy foods and set time aside for exercise. In addition, representatives from local fitness and nutrition companies hosted information tables.

Cherry Hill Launches First South Jersey ‘Girls on the Run’ Program The Cherry Hill Mayors Wellness Campaign, in partnership with the Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center, launched a new running program for girls in their community this fall.

‘Girls on the Run’ is an international, nonprofit organization that encourages girls to build physical fitness, healthy self-esteem and respect for their peers by running together. The first of its kind in South Jersey, the 12-weeks program culminated in a statewide ‘Girls on the Run’ 5k in Somerset.

Fifteen girls from the Cherry Hill program went on to compete in the Somerset 5k race on November 18. The Cherry Hill MWC and Mayor Chuck Cahn plan to make the program a regular part of their wellness efforts.

6th Annual Beavertown 5K
On November 3rd, Lincoln Park held its 6th Annual Beavertown 5K Fall Classic Run/Walk, despite most of the town not having power due to Hurricane Sandy.

Plan to Get Involved It’s rewarding as Mayors Wellness Campaign Director to see so many towns working to promote wellness. The activities and information provided through local Mayors Wellness Campaigns promote community wellbeing and reduce the incidence of chronic diseases.

If your community is not yet involved in the Mayors Wellness Campaign, visit to learn more or to sign the Wellness Pledge. Our site also includes information on how to form a committee or plan an event.

The Mayors Wellness Campaign ( is an initiative of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute ( in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities (

Its mission is to equip mayors and other key leaders with the tools to develop and implement active-living initiatives in their communities. The MWC seeks to improve health and reduce the skyrocketing health care costs that come with obesity. Currently, more than half of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities are participating in the campaign. Major funding for the Mayors Wellness Campaign is provided by The Walmart Foundation.

MWC on the lawn at Riverside
The lawn at Riverside Gardens in Red Bank was decorated with the MWC logo.


First Published in New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 90, Number 3, March 2013


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