The Gateway Family YMCA Hosts Shaping Elizabeth Community Health Forum

Why Should Your Zip Code be a Predictor of Your Health?

Elizabeth, NJ, June 27, 2014 --( On Wednesday, June 18, members of the community, government and community organizations met at The Gateway Family YMCA – Elizabeth Branch for the forum “Shaping Elizabeth Healthy Connected Communities: Why Should Your Zip Code be a Predictor of Your Health?” This event was designed to raise awareness of the importance of health equity and its impact on the Elizabeth Community.

“First, take a moment and try to imagine a community where everyone has access to healthy food and physical activity,” began Krystal R. Canady, CEO, The Gateway Family YMCA, setting the tone for the event. Speakers at the Community Health Forum included Darrin Anderson, Sr, MS, PhD Deputy Director, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, City of Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage and Joseph L. McTernan, BS, MBA Senior Director, Community & Clinical Services, Trinitas Regional Medical Center.

“We need to begin to advocate for issues that are not our own,” stated Darrin Anderson, who spoke on the importance of community collaborations, environment and policy changing strategies to combat childhood obesity. The relationship between a person’s zip code and their overall health was explored in depth, looking at factors including adverse living conditions, access to recreational facilities, access to healthcare and access to healthy food.

Joeseph L. McTernan shared the results from the Community Health Needs Assessment and Action plan at the Trinitas Regional Medical Center. Priorities for the Elizabeth community were defined as, “Obesity with focus on prevention of chronic disease/metabolic syndrome, mental health and substance abuse, cancer, access to care for the uninsured/underinsured and Hispanic/Latino health disparities,” stated Joseph L. McTernan, Trinitas Regional Medical Center. City of Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage spoke on the City’s response to improving healthy living including the recent passage of the Complete Streets Resolution.

Forum participants divided into work groups including “Access to Healthy Foods”, “Ability for Active Living”, “School Wellness” and “Community Health”, each led by a Shaping Elizabeth team member. Members of various community groups, worked together to strategize on current assets and barriers in the City of Elizabeth, as well as recommendations for improvements and organizational opportunities that can lead to healthy children, adults and families. Team members from Shaping Elizabeth will organize and prioritize the findings from the forum, to help lead the process further forward. Krystal R. Canady, CEO, The Gateway Family YMCA, ended the forum by stating, “Thank you for your participation and passion for this work.”

The Shaping Elizabeth Community Health Initiative is sponsored by grants from Shaping NJ and The Elizabethtown Healthcare Foundation. Shaping Elizabeth is a team composed of community leaders committed to improving the health and well-being of the residents of the City of Elizabeth by creating sustainable change to policies and environment with strategies to close the “Health Equity” gap that support improved health, nutrition and physical activity for all.

For more information on Shaping Elizabeth, please contact Alane McCahey, The Gateway Family YMCA at For more information on The Gateway Family YMCA, please visit or call the Elizabeth Branch at 908-355-9622.
The Gateway Family YMCA
Colleen Clayton