Cherry Hill Headlines

Posted on: April 3, 2012

Weekly Column: The Mayor's Wellness Campaign

Recent national and state statistics show that an extraordinary number of American citizens and New Jersey residents are currently obese or overweight; specifically, sixty-two percent of adults, thirty-four percent of children, and fifty-seven percent of New Jersey residents. With the help of the Township Council and my administration, I have made the health and wellness of those within the Cherry Hill community a priority by joining the New Jersey Mayor’s Wellness Campaign (MWC).

According to the National Center on Disease Control (CDC), “the obesity rate has doubled since the late 1970s. The heavy are getting heavier. That’s particularly true of adults, but it’s also true of kids.” These statistics have designated obesity as an epidemic in the United States and, specifically, in New Jersey. The Department of Health and Senior Services says New Jersey’s annual healthcare-related costs are upwards of $2 billion, creating continual heavy burdens on families, businesses, and communities as a whole. Without action, it is projected that by 2018, New Jersey will spend approximately $9.3 billion annually in obesity-related healthcare costs. The sobering fact is that without a change in current trends, today’s children will be the first generation to live shorter and less healthy lives than their parents.

That is why as an administration, we have joined with the 317 existing members and fourteen Camden County Municipalities already participating in the New Jersey MWC, committing ourselves to the health, wellness, and betterment of the Cherry Hill Township community. The Mayor’s Wellness Campaign is a New Jersey state initiative aimed at combating both obesity and the rising associated health care costs by providing opportunities for communities to get in shape and stay active. Studies consistently show that as little as thirty minutes of aerobic activity per day can reduce one’s risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The MWC will help get our town on the path to active living and healthier lifestyles.

At the last Township Council meeting, members unanimously voted to support this new effort based upon the proposed and projected benefits that both Cherry Hill residents and the greater community can realize. A goal of participating in the MWC is to increase opportunities for Cherry Hill community members to improve overall health and wellness, while at the same time, reducing obesity health related deaths, and health care costs. As part of the MWC, we plan to partner with local businesses and organizations to identify and promote healthy community initiatives. We will also offer health tips and suggestions in the Mayor’s Weekly email.

The official kick-off of the MWC will take place at Cherry Hill’s Earth Festival on April 28th, where the Township and MWC committee will introduce programs and events that correlate to this initiative, including healthy cooking classes and collaborative work with local stores to educate children about healthy food options. We are also reaching out to fitness and activity centers to arrange classes and promote active living. Other programs and events coinciding with this campaign are also in the works and will be advertised on the Township Website, Facebook, Twitter, and on Cherry Hill recreational brochures

A large part of this initiative will focus on recognizing and taking advantage of the many wonderful wellness opportunities Cherry Hill already has to offer. Such activities and opportunities include utilizing the parks, trails, recreation fields, hockey and tennis courts, and the thirteen swim clubs located throughout town. The MWC will focus on encouraging participation and expanding the array of available recreational and wellness events. And although much of the focus is primarily on the physical component of the MWC, it is important to consider and incorporate other healthy lifestyle choices, including daily stress management techniques and healthy food choices.

Out of the 317 active Mayor’s Wellness Campaign municipalities, there are 11 certified “Healthy Towns.” My goal is to achieve that designation and become a part of that elite group of municipalities that qualify to apply for certain grant funds through the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign that can provide funds for community education, program implementation, and resources.

Please join us at the Earth Festival on April 28th at Croft Farms, when we formally launch the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign. At the festival, we will have yoga demonstrations, a Family Fun bike ride, a walk/run, and informational tables from local businesses and organizations about health and wellness. I invite you all to join us in learning more about this worthwhile effort by going to www.cherryhill-nj.com and taking part in one of the many events we have planned in the coming weeks and months. I encourage each of you to start living a more active, healthier lifestyle by joining us in the MWC!

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