cymca valley school popcornThe Community YMCA Expands Partnership to Combat Childhood Obesity

PHOTO: Teachers at Valley School in Hazlet kick off the Healthy U obesity prevention program by dressing as “go” and “whoa” foods to reinforce healthy food options. (Left to right)  First Row: Kathleen Galletti, Lisa Rafalko, Sondra Lougee, Chelsea Leonard, Caroline Farinaro. Back Row: Rose Mintz, Vice President of Child Achievement for The Community YMCA; Meghan Reilly, physical education teacher; and John Verderosa, school Principal.

Hazlet, NJ (February 29, 2016) - Students at Raritan Valley School in Hazlet celebrated the extra day in February today with fun and exercise as they piloted Healthy U, the largest and most comprehensive childhood obesity prevention program in the country.

All 342 students participated in the “Leap Into Healthy U” assembly, which featured non-competitive activities that are part of Healthy U’s curriculum to keep kids active and help them make healthy choices. Tomorrow, the Beers Street Elementary will also pilot the program. 

“We are excited to introduce the Healthy U program at Raritan Valley School and Beers Street Elementary,” said Dr. Bernard F. Bragen, Superintendent of Hazlet Township Public Schools, adding that the program will be implemented at all district elementary schools in September 2016.

Students at both Raritan Valley and Beers Street schools will enjoy colorful new hula hoops, jump ropes and other free equipment that are part of the Healthy U program.

Healthy U was created in 2008 as a collaboration between the Horizon Foundation and the New Jersey YMCA Alliance to help kids and their families better understand proper nutrition and the health benefits of staying physically active. The Hazlet school district, with support from The Community YMCA, is among only a handful in the state to incorporate Healthy U into their daily curriculum.

Statewide, Healthy U impacts more than 46,000 children, ages 3 to 13, at over 500 YMCA and elementary school sites. The program uses the evidence-based and award-winning CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) curriculum, proven to prevent childhood obesity. The program is offered in preschool settings, afterschool programs and through in-school curriculum.

 “The Community YMCA is proud to be a partner with the Horizon Foundation in bringing the Healthy U program to all Hazlet students,” said The Community YMCA President and CEO Rhonda Anderson, noting that children enrolled in the Y’s afterschool program in Hazlet schools participate in the  Healthy U program. “Together, we are providing our children with a strong foundation for a healthy future.”

The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey has invested nearly $5 million in Healthy U and recently committed an additional $1.25 million for program support through the next four years. The next phase of Healthy U will impact over 70,000 children ages 3-13 plus their family members through 2019.