Promoting Healthy Families, Schools, and Communities in New Jersey

Building Healthy Kids Coalitions

Evidence of impact

More than 50% of Summit participants indicated a willingness to continue their participation beyond each Children's Health Summit through their membership in local Building Healthy Kids Coalitions (BHKC). These community-based, grassroots coalitions are organized and facilitated by FCHS and consist of volunteer members wishing to address solutions appropriate to their local concerns. FCHS educators train coalition leaders and provide initial leadership and direction.

Two BHKCs developed walking programs (Steppin' Out Cape May County and Steppin' Out Union County) for adults and children.

One BHKC has joined a collaborative initiative for a healthier Passaic County which has brought many community leaders together to address childhood obesity in the county. The BHKC in Atlantic County joined forces with AtlantiCare Foundation and they are working with area schools to support the efforts of staff and students including an after-school food club, and annual bike-a-thon.

Three more BHKCs are forming to address obesity-related issues such as: reviewing school wellness policies, limiting snacks or changing snack choices, reviewing school policy on vending machines, motivating parents to get involved. Family fitness nights have been coordinated with support from the of GMGHNJ team, and RCE faculty members serve on school wellness boards at various schools throughout the state. Plans are currently developing to partner with school wellness activities as well as the NJ Mayors' Wellness Campaign.

We continue to hear success stories from Coalition members stories like, "Since I attended the summit, I started a morning walking club for staff and students." A school food service director shared, "After the summit, I only order whole wheat breads and pizza crust instead of white bread products for the school lunch" and a school nurse, "We no longer permit teachers to reward students with soda." "I copied all of the materials from the summit and distributed copies to each staff member in the school district" And a Health and PE teacher, "The summit motivated me to approach the school board to complete the construction of the walking path behind our school. And I also worked with our principal to move recess to before rather than after lunch. The kids eat better and have more energy." Two fitness trainers/gym managers told us that after the summit they started a fitness program specifically for kids at their gym. These are significant outcomes. Childhood obesity needs a multifaceted response and we are helping to make that happen. We have invited our partners to help turn childhood obesity "talk" into action. Together we are making a difference for children and families.

For more information or to schedule a program in your county, contact Family and Community Health Sciences at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension office in your county.