This year, more than 40 New Jersey cities and towns submitted “Healthy Town” applications to the Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC), a program run by the Quality Institute in partnership with the NJ League of Municipalities. In their applications, the towns shared the creative ways they are promoting health and wellness — such as community farms, food pantries, bike-sharing programs, and yoga classes in parks and on beaches. Some towns created mental health initiatives, diabetes education programs, health fairs and many other impactful programs. The response for the Healthy Town application was so strong this year that we will increase the number of Healthy Town designations we award.
After years of running the MWC, I know what makes a successful program: support from the mayor, community partnerships with health experts, and the use of data to drive programs. The MWC supports towns that want to understand their local data. Yesterday, in a webinar, “Unlocking the Power of Local Health Data,” we explored how towns can leverage tools such as the City Health Dashboard. In the webinar, Deputy Mayor Eman El-Badawi shared Cranbury Township’s experience using the platform to better understand the town’s demographic changes, disease rates, and community needs. You can view the webinar here. City Health is adding smaller communities (3,000 residents) to its Dashboard. I encourage you to check out the Dashboard to explore the measures currently available and consider how such data could assist your community or organization to better serve your residents, patients, or clients.
To further towns in their use of local data, we also are partnering with WellCare’s Community Connections program to offer an in-person workshop focused on local social needs assessments and data collection. The workshop will include community leaders who have used local data to implement targeted and meaningful MWC programs — and give participants the opportunity to hear from each other on best practices, successes, and challenges. The program will be in June, and we will keep everyone posted as we have more details.
If you are an elected official, or organization working in New Jersey to improve health and wellness, your participation in a local MWC is vital to improving health and wellness in your town and throughout the state. I’m here for anyone who wants to start a MWC in their community or strengthen an existing program. You can reach out to me at email@example.com to get involved in your MWC.