By Maritza Gomez

Last July on a Saturday morning, Camden Coalition staff members joined faith leaders from our Faith in Prevention program cohorts at I Walk Camden. The gathering included a two-mile trek, led by Mayor Francisco “Frank” Moran, through his East Camden neighborhood. The walk was organized with Connect the Lots, a joint effort of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, and the city of Camden to promote good health and celebrate one of Camden’s growing residential and business districts.

This month, we are excited to build on the energy and community pride generated from the first walk by replicating I Walk Camden. Mayor Frank Moran will again lead the walk on Saturday, April 20, this time through Camden’s Parkside neighborhood. I Walk Camden will feature a speaker from MD Anderson to address our Faith in Prevention program’s expanded focus of promoting tobacco cessation and breast cancer screening in our community. Participants and families will also enjoy music, kids activities, and food demonstrations.

As a lifelong city resident, I see this event as a great opportunity for Camden residents and community officials to join forces and show the community that our health and wellbeing are important. Chronic disease is common in Camden County, which ranks 20 out of New Jersey’s 21 counties in health outcomes. Camden’s poverty and violent crime rankings in the country also have remained high over the years. But our city has stayed resilient with a strong sense of neighborhood pride.

Faith in Prevention alum Rhonda Talton, First Lady of of Mt. OIivet Baptist Church, has fond memories of last year’s inaugural walk. “I enjoyed the I Walk event because it made me feel proud to do something good for the city of Camden,” she said. “I met some great people, including the mayor. The I Walk event was a great way to see that people really care about rebuilding Camden.”

I Walk Camden is a perfect match for our Faith in Prevention program. An initiative of the New Jersey Department of Health, Faith in Prevention promotes healthy eating and physical activity while advocating for system and environmental changes to reduce the burden of chronic disease among communities of faith in Camden County. Because much of our health is influenced by the conditions in which we live, work, and play, Faith in Prevention aims to reduce those social risks and strengthen support networks for individuals who need help managing their health.

I Walk Camden will begin and end at Camden’s Farnham Park and will cover roughly three miles. Registration is free and opens at 9 am, with remarks and warm up activities kicking off at 9:45 am. To learn more and register for the walk, visit http://www.ctlcamden.com/i-walk-camden.html.

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