Health & Wellness

South Mountain YMCA and Township of Maplewood Partner with Easter Seals to Fight Obesity


MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The South Mountain YMCA and Maplewood Township have joined forces with Easter Seals New Jersey as the Inclusive Health Coalition for the National Center on Health, Disability and Physical Activity.  A new health and wellness initiative for those living with disabilities, called “Be Well! & Thrive” will fight the rise in obesity and related decline in health.

“The partnership of Easter Seals and the Township of Maplewood is rounding out the expansion of our recreation services to our disabled residents and their families,” said Township Committeewoman Kathleen Leventhal.  “This collaboration is an example of the mission of Maplewood Loves Wellness - bringing groups together to build on the wellness of each Maplewoodian.”

Often people living with disabilities do not receive the same preventive or wellness services as do the general population. The goal of the coalition is to promote inclusion in recreation and health department events in Maplewood Township and to extend the message of inclusive health promotion throughout Essex County.  

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The Coalition’s efforts began on March 7 with a 12-week “Be Well! & Thrive” structured, ability-appropriate exercise class for people with developmental disabilities age 14 and up. The class is free for participants and funded by a grant from the National Center for Physical Activity and Health for People with Disabilities (NCPAD).  By addressing these issues the program aims to improve quality of life and ability to perform activities of daily living with independence.

Maplewood Township’s Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Keith Knudsen created a program which provides a variety of recreational opportunities for individuals with special needs. Park and recreation areas and the community pool is wheelchair accessible. An ADA approved lift is being installed this season. The spring recreation schedule includes a special needs soccer clinic, baseball game, and pool and picnic event. Learn about health promotion for people with disabilities by contacting Laura O’Reilly, R.N. at

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