Saturday, July 11, 2020

(Courtesy of Quality Institute) The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute has issued its annual New Jersey “Healthy Town” designation to eight communities participating in the Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC), a program of the Quality Institute, in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

Each year communities participating in the MWC complete a comprehensive application outlining the research they’ve done to identify their community health needs, explain how they have organized their local MWC committee and highlight the actions they’ve taken to make their communities a healthier place to live, work and play.

The MWC is now in its 12th year. The Quality Institute provides participating communities with a toolkit on how to get started, guidance on how to identify local health needs and examples of specific actions that other communities are taking to improve health and wellness in their community. The resources and toolkit are available here http://www.njhcqi.org/MWCtoolkit.

“The commitment to improving health and wellness, by these mayors and volunteers is impressive,” said Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the Quality Institute. “It was inspiring to read their applications this year and we are excited to share some examples of their great work.”

The following programs were implemented by the township of Bergenfield, one of the named “healthy towns.” Obesity and cardiovascular health were seen as top concerns among residents and the township worked to address this issue through programming including:

  • Weightlifting with the mayor and local gym instructors at the Bergenfield High School.
  • Walk with the Mayor: Mayor Norman Schmelz led weekly walks alongside a public health nurse to provide health information to participants. On May 15, the Walk with the Mayor will join with the township’s Stigma Free Committee in inviting participants to wear green in an effort to raise awareness of the stigma surrounding mental illness and other medical conditions.
  • Community Weight loss Challenge: a series of physical activity programs led by Mayor Schmelz that provided exercise classes to residents with regular weigh-ins.

“Since I have been mayor, we have worked hard at the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign to encourage our residents to get involved,” said Mayor Schmelz. “Each year, we have added something new to the program and the residents look forward to the events every year... healthy eating seminars, growing our own food in the community garden and more. We have partnered with our library, schools, businesses and our restaurants that offer specials on healthy menu items. Winning the award this year is extra special as Bergenfield Public Health Nurse Patricia August, MSN, has won the Public Health Nurse of the Year Award for 2018. I’m so proud of Patricia, our volunteers, our business partners and mostly our residents for embracing change with diet and exercise.”