Trentonians are Adopting Healthy Habits through Ready, Set, Healthy!

September 18, 2019

Ready, Set, Healthy! a program funded by Novo Nordisk, is a four-pillared collective impact initiative focused on empowering and inspiring students in Trenton schools to eat better, be more active and live healthier lives. The goal is to help children avoid diabetes now and in the future. The four pillars of the program include:

  • Empower parents and caregivers
  • Provide healthy food options in school
  • Improve access to healthy, affordable food in the community
  • Create opportunities for fun physical activity before, during, and after school

In partnership with the Trenton School District, Ready, Set, Healthy! involves nine local nonprofit community partners that have joined forces to provide opportunities for Trenton children to engage in healthy eating and fun, physical activity programs to help them establish continued healthy habits. Community partners include: Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County, GoNoodle, Isles Inc., New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, The College of New Jersey, Capital Area YMCA, The Food Trust, and Wellness in the Schools. The New Jersey YMCA Alliance serves as the backbone organization.

Thousands of kids have participated in the Ready, Set, Healthy! program launched five years ago at four Trenton, NJ elementary schools (Columbus, Jefferson, Martin Luther King and Robbins). As a result, Trenton students are happily trying new fruits and vegetables by participating in taste tests and healthy cooking demonstrations. Overall, students have engaged in more than 47,000 hours of physical activity.

Ready, Set Healthy! Expands Districtwide

Wellness has been on the forefront in Trenton public schools since the board adopted its School Wellness policy several years ago. The policy promotes healthy food and nutrition education before, during, and after school, as well as physical activity. The policy also includes healthy fundraising strategies and suggests healthy alternatives for school celebrations. It also helps prioritize regular physical activity breaks throughout the day and improving standards for meals and snacks. Just last year, due to the success of Ready, Set Healthy! the program expanded to include the entire school district so that all Trenton children learn healthy lifestyle strategies.

In May 2019, Ready, Set, Healthy! partnered with Trenton public schools to host the first Annual “Everyday Matters, Spring into Health,” parent conference at the MLK Elementary School. Over 50 families participated in workshops, demonstrations, and forums to explore how parents, schools, and communities can work together to improve students’ overall health while also reducing chronic absenteeism.

“Ready, Set, Healthy! is truly a year-round healthy lifestyles Trenton community program,” stated Jackie Bavaro, Senior State Program Coordinator for the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance. “In addition to after-school programs, Ready, Set Healthy! promotes access to healthier, affordable food options and lessons in nutrition through its support of the Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market and various Healthy Corner Stores in Trenton.”

What’s Next?

In October 2019, approximately 15 families will participate in a Ready, Set, Healthy! family retreat weekend at YMCA Camp Mason, a 460-acre site in Hardwick, NJ that offers incredible opportunities for outdoor activities including farm and gardening, sports, hiking, rock climbing, ziplining, and a petting zoo. Last year, 11 Trenton families spent Mother’s Day weekend at Frost Valley YMCA, in the Catskill Mountains of New York, enjoying a variety of indoor and outdoor activities focused on healthy eating, gardening and physical fitness.

Want to learn more?

Check out what the Ready, Set, Healthy! partners are doing to promote health both in and outside the classroom via our community blog!