Healthier Middlesex Selected as 2018 HRET Community Outreach Award Winner For ‘Healthy Kids Camp: Partnering For Children’s Wellness

The 2018 HRET Community Outreach awards recognize hospital-initiated programs that identify, respond, collaborate and successfully fulfill community needs.

For Middlesex County school kids, the summer is time for amp—but it can also be a time when health behaviors decline due to the absence of school reinforcement.  Under the banner of Healthier Middlesex, Saint Peter’s University Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital have partnered to develop evidence-based camp curriculums, activities, and polices to maintain the healthy habits and education that occurs during the school year.

In Middlesex County, there are an estimated 135,000 school-aged children who may not receive any health messaging for three months out of every year, particularly in lower income areas.  Within that group, approximately 34,000 children are overweight or obese, a major risk factor for a variety of health issues.

Healthy Kids Camp (HKC) brings together a diverse array of service and summer camp providers to design, develop implement and evaluate health behavior programming and policy.

In year one, HKC was piloted at a single location, the Raritan Valley YMCA, with activities from the YMCA’s Healthy U CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) and SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education) curriculums.  CATCH seeks to increase physical activity and combat child obesity through movement education, fitness, and non-competitive games.  SANP-Ed uses integration of the best research evidence with the best available practice-based evidence to implement nutrition education and demonstration activities.

Since the initial camp, the program has expanded to include six summer camps and a wide variety of service providers who target increasing physical activity, improving nutrition choices, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and sun and water safety.  Currently, HKC is developing a train-the-trainer curriculum and toolbox to disperse the activities across all summer camps in Middlesex County.

HKC has reached more than 1,000 Middlesex County kids in 07 with proven techniques to improve adherence to healthy behaviors.  The hospitals anticipate reaching 3,500 kinds in the county by 2020.

ABOUT THE HEALTH RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL TRUST (HRET) OF NEW JERSEY:

New Jersey Hospital Association’s Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey develops research projects and educational initiatives to promote quality, affordable and accessible healthcare and actively participates in various campaigns to raise public and provider awareness about vital healthcare issues. These initiatives use sound methodologies to understand the landscape of healthcare delivery systems in New Jersey. They help to identify healthcare needs and challenges in our communities, provide best ways to overcome them and improve quality of healthcare and health outcomes of all residents. Our outreach and educational resources empower consumers to make more informed choices concerning their healthcare and link them to sources of assistance for improved access to care.