Battle For Better Health in Cumberland County Includes Guinness Record Attempt

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This month could mark a change of culture and the start of a new era in Cumberland County.

MILLVILLE, NJ — With our county in the midst of a unique month-long health awareness initiative—a truly grassroots effort to bring more attention to the health issues we all face each and every day—it’s important to understand where Cumberland County currently stands and where we would all like to be when the dust has settled.

In 2015, when the concept of Health Watch first took shape during a simple conversation at a Greater Millville Chamber of Commerce Board meeting, we were reluctantly digesting some published information that showed our region as the unhealthiest county in the state. The information showed that we were 21st out of 21 counties in various health-related categories and the numbers suggested that this was merely the end result of the tough socio-economic environment of Cumberland County.

At that point, the challenge became crystal clear—what can we do from a grassroots perspective to energize an entire community of 152,000 people to personally address their own health concerns and at the same time change the image of our county to reflect a proactive community committed to our own better health? Socio-economic concerns aside—and, yes, there are many—each and every person has the ability to seek better health for themselves, their families and friends and it is this simple premise that we must understand.

It’s now 2018 and three years after that initial conversation in a chamber of commerce meeting in downtown Millville, Cumberland County remains last in the state in health standards.

But, with the support of all men, women and children in our area—including our honorary chairman, our own Mike Trout who has been actively supporting our efforts across the world through his many popular social media sites—this month could mark a change of culture and the start of a new era in Cumberland County.

As you hear and see more about Health Watch 2018 and the various elements of this health awareness campaign, including our attempt to set four Guinness World Records in one day, we are asking for every resident, young and old alike, to make a commitment to get involved.

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How can you be a part of this movement?

Step 1: We are asking every resident to take a personal pledge to their own better health while supporting improved health for their family members, friends and our entire community. You can take this simple pledge by visiting takethepledgecumberland.com. We also ask that you tell your family and friends to also participate in taking the pledge, whether they are Cumberland County residents or live elsewhere, the point being that better health awareness is for everyone. After taking the pledge, use the share or Tweet buttons on the bottom of the form to let others know you are supporting this health awareness campaign.

Step 2: Register to participate in one of four Guinness World Records Achievements on May 23. The record involves adolescents (ages 10-19), adult/male (ages 20-64), adult/female (ages 20-64) and senior citizens (age 65 and older) gathering at official venues across the county at specific times during the day to simultaneously participate in a 30-minute health awareness lesson. Adolescents will gather at 11 a.m., the senior citizen category will be at 2 p.m. and the two adult categories will be at 6 p.m. All participants must register in advance through our website at takethepledgecumberland.com. For those folks who do not have access to a computer or mobile device, the libraries in Vineland and Millville will serve as registration centers to assist folks with the process, which involves getting a ticket for entry into the May 23 event. Registration closes on Monday, May 21. No one can participate without completing the registration and having an official ticket with them on May 23.

Step 3: Post your “health awareness moments” on your personal social media sites, along with #takethepledgecumberland. We are hoping to document these moments that occur during the day that demonstrate our decisions to seek healthier alternatives, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator; choosing a healthy snack for ourselves or family; athletic activities by our children, family or friends; a decision to quit smoking or end bad habits; a simple walk around the neighborhood or any other activity that represents a better health decision.

Step 4: Consider donating to our $1 Make a Pledge campaign. Proceeds will support the many organizations across the region that work tirelessly to help others live healthier, productive lives. A portion of the proceeds will also provide scholarships to deserving Cumberland County students who are pursuing a career in a health-related field. Your donation of $1 or more will ensure sustainability for health awareness and, hopefully, a day in the not-so-distant future when all our residents can celebrate our own better health. Pledges will be accepted through the takethepledgecumberland.com website.

—Jerry Covella, Committee Chairman, Health Watch 2018, 
Tri-County Rotary Club, Vineland,  The Greater Millville Chamber of Commerce

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