The Greater Mercer Public Health Partnership completed the first Community Health Assessment (CHA) in 2012. It was developed using the key findings from collected survey data, multiple focus groups, and the secondary data available from several sources. The second CHA completed in 2015, used a streamlined data collection process, and the results confirmed the 2012 priority areas, goals and objectives. The four priority areas are 1) Mental Health and Substance Abuse, 2) Healthy Eating and Active Living, 3) Chronic Disease, and 4) Transportation and Access to Care.
Healthy Eating and Active Living set an over-arching goal to: Improve the health and well-being of the community by advocating for sustainable healthy lifestyle choices. They chose to look at three objectives:
- Review daycares, schools, and afterschool programs that meet the Healthy New Jersey physical activity guidelines and try to increase that number.
- Increase educational outreaches to the community on all aspects of healthy eating and active living.
- Increase the percentage of Mercer County employers that have implemented evidence based worksite wellness initiatives.
With funding from Novo Nordisk, the Nursing Department at TCNJ collaborated with the Trenton Health Team to send nursing students to three Trenton Schools, and do nutrition and physical activity education. Within one year, they documented improved BMI’s in the schools.
The program, called the Community Health Collaborative, is coordinated by the Trenton Health Team and will look to educate parents and promote physical activity and healthy food choices for grade school children. The Novo Nordisk funding supports programs designed to empower parents and caregivers, provide healthy food choices in schools, improve access to healthy, affordable foods, and increase physical activity. The Trenton Health Team leads the collaboration that draws efforts from The College of New Jersey, Isles Inc., The Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County, the YMCA of Trenton, the YMCA State Alliance, George Street Playhouse, GoNoodle, and Wellness in the Schools.
The Mercer County School Nurse Association conducted a survey of its membership to document if schools have recess, how long the recess is, if it is used as leverage for punishment, if the school nurses feel recess is an important part of a child’s school day and barriers to physical activity. From this, we learned that 74% have recess daily, that is 16-30 minutes long, and most of the school nurses believed that recess was an important part of a child’s day.
The Health and Physical Fitness department at TCNJ worked with their students to create the foundation for a “Brain Booster” recess book. The goal is to publish a guide or app for school ground aids and teachers with physical activity suggestions and instructions for outdoor and indoor fun. The manuscript is going to an editor, and hopefully, pictures and a final document will be ready to publish by the end of 2018.
The worksite wellness committee conducted a survey of 87 Mercer businesses and found that 34% had wellness policies, and had started to incorporate healthy snacks, gym memberships, walking clubs, to name a few. The greatest need that 36% of them reported was a desire to address worksite stress. The GMPHP committee organized a Worksite Wellness Summit at the RWJ Fitness Center in Hamilton in April 2017. The keynote speaker addressed mental health in the workplace, and a panel of 4 business wellness models described changes they implemented in their workplace. There were nine community organizations with displays for the guests to explore opportunities available locally. The event was well received by the attendees, and several have followed up with the speaker to run programs in their workplaces.