Published in Bergen Dispatch
The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute today announced that two municipalities, Beachwood and Jersey City, are designated as this year’s New Jersey Healthy Towns by the Mayors Wellness Campaign, a program of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.
Two other towns, Belmar and Fort Lee, have been named Healthy Towns to Watch.
The Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC) began in 2006 in partnership with the NJ State League of Municipalities to leverage local leadership to prioritize health and wellness in communities statewide. Today, MWC has grown to nearly 380 municipalities—two-thirds of the state’s 565 towns.
“We know that our mayors have the power to play a critical role in improving the health of communities,” said Linda Schwimmer, President and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “What we are seeing on the grass roots level — from community gardens to yoga classes to supportive conversations about advance directives — is truly exciting. We believe that strong leadership in towns can strengthen the health of a community.”
The Healthy Town designation recognizes the communities and mayors who have made healthy lifestyles a top priority, and have innovatively and effectively worked to improve community health.
In Beachwood, the local Mayors Wellness Campaign is dedicated to giving community residents affordable and accessible means of improving their health right in Beachwood, and in the process, create a sense of friendship and support within programs to encourage and motivate citizens to participate. “We have dedicated people working very hard to get our message and programs out to the public. I’m extremely excited and proud to be part of this great accomplishment,” said Mayor Ronald Roma of Beachwood.
Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop called good health the foundation for a strong city. “That’s why my administration has put such an emphasis on encouraging and supporting healthier lifestyles. I couldn’t be more proud of our hard-working staff, our community partners who work with us to support public health, and our city for earning this distinction,” the mayor said.
Aside from the Healthy Town winners, two towns—Fort Lee and Belmar—stood out among the applicants for their commitment to community health and wellness. “We pledge that the health and fitness of our residents will continue to be a high priority with many more improvements to come in the future,” said Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee.
Upon hearing about the winning towns, Michael Darcy, Executive Director of the NJ State League of Municipalities, said it was “great news.” He said, “Both of the urban communities recognized by the Mayors Wellness Campaign have noteworthy development occurring both residentially and commercially. For them to be able to work in healthy activities is terrific,” he said. “And the ability of the coastal communities to achieve recognition demonstrates that they have come through storms and that rebuilding and tourism can be healthy too.”
Jersey City has focused on increasing healthy food access through afterschool nutrition programs, Cooking Matters at the Store—tours on healthy shopping at the local grocery store, Farmers Markets, an Adopt-a-lot community garden program, and a Farm to Table program with local restaurants.
Fort Lee’s annual health fair (photo) attracted more than 2000 participants and includes 70 vendors as well as a vaccination program, obesity prevention and exercise events.
To make it easier for residents’ to make healthier choices, Fort Lee hosts a weekly farmer’s market, recently opened three new public parks, started a community garden, and opened a community ice skating rink.
The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is the only independent, nonpartisan, multi-stakeholder advocate for health care quality in New Jersey. The Quality Institute’s mission is to undertake projects and promote system changes that ensure that quality, safety, accountability and cost-containment are closely linked to the delivery of health care services in New Jersey.
The Mayors Wellness Campaign is a program of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute in partnership with the New Jersey League of Municipalities. The program empowers mayors across NJ with tools, strategies, and support to champion health and wellness in their communities.
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