Published in The Asbury Park Press
By Michael Diamond
BEACHWOOD – Its residents have access to free yoga classes on the beach each Saturday during the summer. They can attend healthy cooking classes at their local ShopRite. And they can take self-defense classes hosted by local police officers.
Sleepy Beachwood, population 11,000 give or take, is one of two towns to receive the designation of a New Jersey Healthy Town, a health care watchdog group said Thursday. The other: Jersey City, whose population tops 250,000.
“What we are seeing on the grassroots level – from community gardens to yoga classes – is truly exciting,” said Linda Schwimmer, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, a Princeton-based health care advocacy group. “We believe that strong leadership in towns can strengthen the health of a community.”
The group teamed with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities to create the Mayors Wellness Campaign, a program bring attention to towns that are on the forefront of health and wellness.
It comes as advocates push communities to realize that health care includes more than hospitals and doctors offices. It includes making sure residents have places where they can exercise, social outlets and even a strong school system.
Among the programs in Beachwood: Mayor Ronald Roma hosts a weekly walk to exercise and engage with residents.
“We have dedicated people working very hard to get our message and programs out to the public,” Roma said in a statement.
New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute also named Belmar as a healthy town to watch. With its beach drawing thousands during the summer, Belmar partnered with CentraState Healthcare System to screen residents for signs of skin cancer. And the borough attracted 900 people to an event that raised awareness for breast cancer.
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