Free Kids’ Eye Exams, Baby Food Giveaway At Health Fest In Newark

NEWARK, NJ — The following news release comes courtesy of a Patch community member. Find out how to post announcements or events to your local Patch site.

CareSparc Community Connections’ Sustainable Health and Wellness Village Festival (SHWV) in partnership with New Jersey Give a Kid A Dream – presents New Jersey’s only comprehensive health and wellness festival featuring free eye exams and glasses for children, organic baby food giveaway, health screenings, discussions, healthy food resources, physician maternal child health, wellness workshops and more.

The SHWV will be held at three locations from 10 am to 5 pm throughout the state, starting in Newark on Friday, September 23 – Sunday, September 25. The Newark event will be held at Branch Brook Park-Prudential Center Grove and will be followed by the SHWV Festival in New Brunswick at Boyd Park on Friday and Saturday, September 30 – October 1, and in Atlantic City at the Showboat Hotel on Friday and Saturday, October 14 – 15. The Sustainable Health and Wellness Village is the only New Jersey health and wellness festival being held in three of the state’s major cities with a majority black and brown population. Johnson & Johnson, founded and headquartered in New Brunswick, NJ, serves as Presenting Sponsor.

In Newark, the Friday program will host about 250 seniors, Saturday’s program will focus on children and families and Sunday’s program will focus on the faith community.

“At risk populations must have access to quality healthcare and community resources to lead healthier lifestyles,” said Keith Da Costa, Co-founder and Executive Director of CareSparc Community Connections, who created the Sustainable Health and Wellness Village model, informed by the CDCs Social Determinants of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Action Framework. “Our three-city health and wellness tour features a festival-like atmosphere, live entertainment, family activities, community resources to engage local residents; families particularly, seniors and veterans who want to take an active role in improving the health and wellness of their family. We have conducted considerable research that has informed us of the tremendous need for health, wellness and social service agency access, particularly in our state’s largest cities. CareSparc Community Connections with its SHWV Festival provides a roadmap to improve health outcomes – I hope you will join us.”

This year, the SWHV will replicate the 2021 festival and feature physicians, nurses, healthcare, and public health-based staff from numerous healthcare facilities, federally funded community health centers (FQHCs), county service agencies, and local health departments.

In 2014, The SHWV Festival was launched as a health and wellness component of the Lincoln Park Music Festival. CareSparc Community Connections took the best practices from the successful Newark SHWV and expanded it to a statewide village.

“We welcome the CareSparc Community Connections’ Sustainable Health and Wellness Village Festival to Newark and thank its partners for the critical health and vision services they will offer to our families,” Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said. “This health fair is about providing our residents with free health screenings and educating them and their families to lead healthy lives and address any issues early on.”

DaCosta added that the Covid-19 Pandemic triggered a national conversation about the stark health disparities that exist in communities of color. He added, “As we look at the legacy of COVID, now is the time to address health justice and social equity in this state and this nation. The SHWV Festival is one of the many strategies to address historical inequities in communities of color by providing health education, clinical screenings, and community resources to ensure that local residents understand and access clinical, social and economic services to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle. ”

“Thank you to CareSparc Community Connections for inviting me to serve as a Statewide Ambassador for their 2022 Sustainable Health and Wellness Village Festival,” said LeRoy J. Jones, Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Party. “I am honored to serve and look forward to carrying the baton for health and wellness in the three communities where the festival will be held and in communities across New Jersey. Wellness is a cornerstone of my life, and I am encouraging others to attend the festival in Newark, New Brunswick and Atlantic City and other events that promote a culture of wellness every day.”

Representatives from the following hospitals and healthcare organizations will be participating in the village, starting in Newark: Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences,) University Hospital, St. Michael’s Medical Center, Clara Maass Medical Center, and Silverlake Hospital. Screenings will include free eye exam+, HIV Testing, COVID-19, and blood pressure, as well.

Susan Cleary, President of Local 1199J, who is also serving as a 2022 SHWV Festival Tour Statewide Ambassadors said, “I have seen firsthand the devasting physical and emotional effects COVID has had on the members I have the privilege of representing. The sacrifices they have made must never be forgotten. We must keep up the fight for safe working conditions and quality and accessible health care for essential workers and the communities they serve.”

The following local leaders are also serving as 2022 Newark Sustainable Health and Wellness Festival Ambassadors:

  1. Newark Councilman At Large Luis Quintana
  2. Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr
  3. Dr. Alan Sickles, President & CEO, St. Michaels Medical Center
  4. Dr. Maria Soto-Greene, Executive Vice Dean, Rutgers NJ Medical School

In addition to medical services, workshops and programs, there will be several programs for children and families, including the distribution of Kekoa Foods’ organic baby food, 500 farmers market vouchers, and 500 free lunches to seniors from the Essex County Division of Senior Services and the Newark Department of Recreation, Cultural Affairs, and Senior Services, fitness workshops, and thousands of dollars of prizes and giveaways.

Since the inception of The Sustainable Health and Wellness Village (SHWV) model, it has served more than 38,000 local community residents and has garnered financial support from several major healthcare organizations and corporations.

In addition to the SHWV, CareSparc also created the COVID-19 Emergency Food Distribution Effort (CERFDE) in partnership with Table to Table and numerous community partners. It was one of the first home delivery food programs at the pandemic’s start. Each week, the program served the same 2,000 people for more than fifteen months, bagging and delivering over 1.4 million pounds of healthy food through a network of volunteers. CERFDE was visited and hailed by First Lady Tammy Murphy and other city and state representatives fighting food insecurity as a best practices food distribution program and network.

The 2022 Sponsors are listed:

  • Johnson and Johnson – Presenting Sponsor
  • Casino Reinvestment Development Authority
  • Showboat Hotel
  • Horizon NJ Health
  • Amerigroup
  • United Healthcare
  • Local 1199J
  • State of NJ Health Department

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