Rutgers’ Department of Family and Community Health Sciences (FCHS) and the Salem Health and Wellness Foundation announced the establishment of a Health Educator position for Salem County, which has been without a FCHS health educator for over 20 years.
FCHS, a unit of Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE), sought to establish this position in Salem County, using the basis of its highly regarded, award-winning Get Moving—Get Healthy school and workplace wellness program. Get Moving—Get Healthy uses evidence-based research and innovative methods to educate and motivate students, professionals and the public to take action toward improving their overall health and wellness.
Kathleen Morgan, chair of FCHS and a health educator for the past 21 years, saw the Rutgers and Foundation partnership as mutually beneficial. “Since we established Get Moving—Get Healthy in 2007, we’ve been looking for a way to introduce the program to every county in New Jersey, especially Salem County, where there is a critical need for health promotion information.
The Salem Health and Wellness Foundation sought out RCE so that it can tap into the assistance and expertise of this Rutgers program to support its own Healthy Kids, Bright Futures initiative, a childhood obesity and nutrition program for Salem County. The Foundation has pledged $275,000 over five years to sustain the position of Health Educator for the county.
“The Foundation is enthusiastic about the synergies that this new relationship with Rutgers Cooperative Extension will bring to Salem County,” said Brenda Goins, executive director of the Salem Health and Wellness Foundation.
Salem County ranks 20th out of 21 New Jersey counties in health behavior measures including adult obesity and physical inactivity, and ranks last in overall mortality from premature death, according to the Foundation website. County Health rankings identify adult obesity and physical inactivity in Salem County at 34% and 31%, respectively, compared to a statewide ranking of 25% for both adult obesity and physical inactivity.
According to Morgan, Salem County is a prime location for Rutgers to add a health educator to help boost the county’s health behavior measures, reduce obesity, increase physical activity, ultimately reducing preventable diseases for residents.
“The Foundation’s Healthy Kids, Bright Futures initiative shares many common goals with Rutgers FCHS’ programming, including reducing childhood obesity through nutrition education and promoting heathy eating and lifestyles,” explained Morgan. “We hope this new partnership in Salem encourages others to follow suit and partner with Rutgers to provide more outreach in their communities.”
“This is an opportunity for two dynamic leaders in the community to begin spreading a culture of health throughout Salem County. We encourage other community leaders to join us in this endeavor,” said Goins.
To learn more about Rutgers Family and Community Health Sciences, visit www.njaes.rutgers.edu/fchs. For more information about the Foundation’s Healthy Kids, Bright Futures initiative, visit www.salemwellnessfoundation.org.