Camden faith organizations commit to health and wellness

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Over the past year, nine faith-based organizations in Camden partnered with the Coalition to build a culture of wellness in their communities. Eight churches and one masjid joined the Faith in Prevention program, implementing a six-week health and wellness curriculum, Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More, which trained over 30 community leaders and engaged over 200 participants.

Assisted by community health workers from our member organization Camden Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Faith in Prevention project, funded by the NJ Department of Health, can help reduce the city’s burden of chronic disease. The curriculum emphasizes healthy eating and nutrition education along with physical activity, promoting personal and environmental changes that support good health.

In addition to the Faithful Families health education courses, participating organizations also worked with local service providers to offer fitness classes like Zumba and Qi Gong. All participants in the program received memberships to the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden for access to state-of-the-art fitness facilities.

The groups committed to promoting a culture of health through the food and drinks they serve at events, presentations on health and wellness practices, and establishment of on-site gardens and walking trails. Several participating organizations also made fitness equipment, scales, and libraries of fitness videos and nutrition guides available to their congregants.

On November 7, the Coalition recognized Faith in Prevention leaders during Camden’s Diabetes Awareness Day for their accomplishments in implementing the program over the past year. Camden County, Rutgers University, Cooper Health System, and the Coalition sponsored the event.

“In addition to the cooking demonstrations, nutrition lessons, and environmental changes, we closed out the first year of Faith in Prevention energized to do even more,” said Faith In Prevention program manager Summer Tatum. “There is no other program that I am aware of where you can receive a good recipe and prayer at the same time!”

The second year of the Faith in Prevention program will begin this winter. Applications for the program will be accepted on a rolling basis through December 1.

“My goal for this initiative continues to be that every person that moves through the program will leave with the tools necessary to take hold of their health,” said Tatum. “I want them to leave empowered to make healthier food choices, inspired to move more, and emboldened to declare ‘Yes, I can do this.’ ”

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