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The Importance of a Healthy Environment

By: Stacey Knight

Regular physical activity is critical for a child to be able to have good health, success in school, and overall wellbeing.  Educating individuals to make the healthy choice is important, but is not enough to combat the environmental conditions and limitations that often determine an individual’s health. 

Communities can make a difference by building and beautifying playgrounds and outdoor spaces, which everyone can enjoy.

Camden, New Jersey is doing just that. With the help of United Way of Camden County, The New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, Rutgers University, and others are working with community residents to reclaim Northgate Park and create a place for community residents to gather, play and exercise. They are building or revitalizing a full-length basketball court, tennis courts, a small amphitheater, a children’s splash fountain, a community barbeque, and planting a community garden. Understanding that safety is often a barrier to children being able to play, these physical improvements will be supplemented by security upgrades including fencing, lighting and police monitored security cameras.  The residents will also organize and engage in meaningful programing to keep the park and themselves active including basketball tournaments, community barbeques and tennis lessons.

By working together and building from our collective strength, we can transform neighborhoods into safe and healthy places in which all children can play and realize their full potential.