Sussex County, NJ – Creating Healthier Lives One Step at a Time
Sussex County, New Jersey is working collaboratively to create life-changing healthy habits. In 2008, Sussex County was selected for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) initiative. PHC is a community leadership strategy to facilitate active living and healthier eating through policy and environmental changes. Through this initiative, the Sussex County YMCA served as the convener and brought together the county’s strongest leaders to focus on policy and environment changes in places where our community lives, works and plays. Through the work of the PHC team, the Y First Program was developed which allows local physicians the ability to send patients to the Sussex County YMCA for a free twelve week program to influence behavior change towards a healthier lifestyle. Since the program inception late in 2009, over 1,000 patients have been referred to the Y by their physician with a prescription for exercise. To further enhance lifestyle changes, through funding by Shaping NJ and collaborations with local farmers, we were able to provide shares of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to Y First participants. With nutrition workshops provided by Newton Medical Center, families have learned to eat and cook with fresh vegetables as part of their journey to health.
Sussex County’s community partners have also helped raise awareness to the importance and benefits of walking. The Y joined the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce rails to trails committee and participated in the National Trails Day 5K. Through the funding by Shaping NJ, the Sussex County YMCA and Hardyston Township have collaborated to install a new Fit-Trail system to the current walking path at Wheatsworth Park and we celebrated a Kick-off Walk as part of Hardyston Day on September 12th. One step at a time, Sussex County, NJ is walking toward a healthier you!