Westwood Recognized as a Healthy Community for Second year in a Row

The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute has recently announced that Westwood was named as a 2018 New Jersey Healthy Town by the Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC), a program of the Quality Institute, in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.  Westwood was the only town in Bergen Community to receive this prestigious recognition in 2017 and then again in 2018 for having met a high standard of criteria for the designation.

The Healthy Town designation recognizes mayors and communities that have worked creatively to engage residents in health and wellness activities that improve health knowledge and practices for youth, seniors, employees, and the overall community.  “These awards highlight the role of mayors in driving low to no-cost health and wellness initiatives to improve the lives of the residents of their communities,” said Linda Schwimmer, President and CEO of the Quality Institute, in congratulating the winners. “From healthy corner stores and workplace wellness initiatives to aging and wellness programs and dance classes, mayors are leading the way toward better health and fitness in their cities and towns.”

“I am delighted that the New Jersey Health Care Quality institute has once again recognized Westwood as a Healthy Town,” said Mayor John Birkner. “This designation is testament to the dedicated volunteers who work so hard to bring beneficial programming into our community. This shows that our efforts have become sustainable and appreciated by our residents who now lead healthier lifestyles. We look forward to continuing to add and improve programs and services into the future.”

The borough sponsors some health initiatives, including:

  • Running and walking groups
  • The Forever Young Program, which hosts classes and nutrition seminars
  • The Special Needs Activity Program, which offers a variety of sports and arts and crafts programs for kids and adults with special needs.

The borough also offers adult coloring workshops to help address mental health and social well-being.

Six categories are considered when selecting healthy towns:

  • Defining Health Broadly – addressing the social and economic factors that impact health outcomes
  • Measurement and Data Sharing – identifying measurable health indicators and establishing shared goals with partners
  • Health Equity – reducing, and ultimately eliminating, health disparities by focusing programming on those most affected by poor
  • Health outcomes
  • Procurement of Resources – harnessing the collective power of your MWC Committee and local business partners to efficiently align
  • Resources that maximize community health.
  • Collaboration – building diverse partnerships across sectors to build capacity for programming
  • Commitment to Sustainability – developing programs that are designed to last

“As a former athlete, and as a husband and father, I understand the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle,” said Mayor John Birkner, Jr. “My goal for the Mayors Wellness Campaign is to bring opportunities for all facets of wellness to our residents. I am excited to be able to partner with so many of our outstanding community groups, both public and private, to provide programming that will enhance and improve the overall quality of life for our participants.”   The borough received the Healthy Town award for a variety of activities, including the Forever Young Program – A series of fitness and social activities designed for residents age 55 and older as well as a four-week Meltdown Challenge that offers coaching support through daily emails to create healthier habits, and a variety of educational workshops through the borough’s library, recreation center, and Westwood for All Ages age-friendly initiative.

In addition, residents have been walking in Westvale Park with Mayor Birkner, and families with young children could join a Stroller Walking Program. About 500 residents participated in MWC programs last year. This year, the borough has been promoting a six-week Wellness Challenge in conjunction with CHIP and HUMC of Pascack Valley, featuring health screenings, weigh-ins, and fitness events.

“We now have a dedicated website and Facebook page in place where we will continue to share health-related information, fitness class schedules, educational workshops, wellness challenges, and more throughout the year” according to Westwood MWC coordinator and certified health coach, Lisa Bontemps.  “Our goal is to make Westwood a place where people can thrive at all ages and have multiple opportunities to improve their overall health and well-being.”

Bergen County communities recognized for exercise efforts

Westwood Mayor John Birkner Jr. is proud of the efforts being made in town.

“We encourage healthy activity through the Mayor Wellness campaign and we have a great relationship with the school district, so we promote cooperative efforts to promote healthy activity,” said Birkner. “We promote Safe Routes to School in conjunction with that effort and pedestrian safety initiative particularly in regard to school crossings.”

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