In 2004, the Institute of Medicine released "Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance", reporting that over 9 million children living in the U.S. were considered obese. This prompted then US Surgeon General David Satcher to issue a national call to action "to reduce overweight and obesity" in American children. Morristown Memorial Hospital (now Morristown Medical Center) and its Goryeb Children's Hospital responded by hosting the area's very first childhood obesity summit.
Following this important community gathering, a group of individuals came forward determined to do more than just talk about childhood obesity. This group formed a steering committee that would later become Morris Area Wellness Partnership. The Partnership received its non-profit, 501(c)3 status in January 2011.
Morris Area Wellness Partnership is a volunteer group of community leaders working in local government, health care, fitness, and education, who are working to increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for children and families in the Morris County NJ area.
In 2014, members of the committee were active in the Community Health Assessment for Morris County. This led to MAWP becoming the Obesity Task Force for the Morris County Committee of the North Jersey Health Collaborative.
In 2010, members of the Partnership's Steering Committee joined the steering committee of the ACHIEVE Healthy Communities - Morris County grant project. The grant was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and was designed to enhance local communities' ability to develop and implement policy, systems, and environmental change strategies that can help prevent or manage health-risk factors for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity and arthritis. Specific activities are directed towards reducing tobacco use and exposure, promoting physical activity and healthy eating, and improving preventive health care services. Efforts were so successful that the group became a mentor to Neptune Township NJ in 2012, receiving an additional grant.
The members of the Morris Area Wellness Partnership Steering Committee are: Arlene Stoller, MPH, CHES, Co-chair, Morris COunty Office of Health Management Denise Lanza, CPRP, MAdS, Co-chair, Morris County Park Commission
Maryann Walsh, Coordinator, Pediatric Health Education, Atlantic Health Systems
Bill Foelsch, Morris Township Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Nancy Hess, Director, RSVP Skylands Rebekka Zydel, Child and Family Resources
Nisha Mehta, Community Outreach Coordinator, Chilton Medical Center