Friday, April 16, 2021 / by Teresa Dipeso
From the Skylands to the seashore, 22 New Jersey municipalities spanning 14 counties have been selected for going above and beyond to address community health needs this past year.
They range from one of the state's tiniest boroughs to its second and third-largest cities.
Eight were named "2020 Healthy Towns," the top honor. They were: Asbury Park, Evesham Township, Montclair, Paterson, Plainfield, Scotch Plains, Woodbridge and Wildwood Crest.
The Mayors Wellness Campaign made the selections from over 400 participating communities in its "Healthy Towns" initiative. The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute launched the initiative in 2006 in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.
Municipalities taking part in the initiative complete a Healthy Town application each year outlining research they've done to identify their public health needs and actions taken to address those needs. This year's campaign gave special emphasis to addressing food insecurity, helping residents stay physically and mentally active, and other actions aimed at mitigating the effects of COVID-19 and government's response to it.
WILDWOOD CREST — "2020 Healthy Town" (Top Honor)
Wildwood Crest provided a backdrop for many a family vacation for those who came of age in the latter 20th century, so much so that some of its motels are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Like other shore towns, Wildwood Crest wasn't immune to the economic hit wrought by the pandemic but still managed to earn its first Healthy Town recognition.
With a focus on stress reduction and building healthy bodies and minds, the borough offered livestream exercise classes and monthly wellness challenges through its Facebook page related to diet and nutrition, stress relief, exercise, hygiene, self-care and education. Participants earned points for engaging in the various initiatives, which led to constructive online discussions.
"Since starting our program in 2019, our Mayors Wellness Campaign has received overwhelming participation and support from our residents, municipal staff, vacationers, and partners," said Mayor Don Cabrera. "I extend a heartfelt thank you to our wellness committee and recreation staff for helping to carry out the mission of wellness throughout our community, especially during a pandemic. We are just getting started.”