NUTLEY, NJ - Spring Garden School held their second Health & Wellness Fair on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 29. Although the free event was held at the school and sponsored by the Spring Garden PTO it was open to all Nutley residents.

Children received a Passport to Health booklet in which they had to participate in different activities throughout the fair. Each time a child completed an activity a sticker was placed on the passport. When at least five activities total of the 14 were completed they were entered in a raffle to win a prize.

Many township departments attended this event to promote a healthier lifestyle including department of public works, health department and parks and recreation.

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Also present was Greenutley sharing information on the upcoming Farmers Market and the Community Garden. Children learned how to grow their own lima beans at the table and take it home with them.

Other township organizations also helped promote wellness such as Nutley Family Service Bureau and Thriving Survivors. The PTO held a food drive in conjunction with the fair to help replenish the food pantry at NFSB.

Vendors included registered dietitian from Nutley Park ShopRite, Burgess Chemist, Luna Wood Fire Tavern, Gabrielle’s Place and Muscle Maker Grill.

Children helped Nutley Fire Department put out “fires” with a simulator and learned about fire safety and smoke detectors. Children received plastic fire caps as well as fire safety material.

Nutley Police were on hand to meet with children and promote public safety, as well.  Fourth grader Christian Badawi, 9, and his father, Tony, met with police officers Tom Schenke and Rick Schwarz. Schwarz gave Christian a Junior Police Academy hat.  

The officers explained the academy is open to Nutley children and will begin again this summer. Also at the table was information on their LEAD program. Law Enforcement Against Drugs is a program for the sixth graders and will be held at the schools.

Detective Sgt. Michael Padilla told TAPInto although the academy is for children in grades 5 through 8, younger children will be able to meet officers at school through the PALs program.

“Police and Lunch in School is a program where officers go there and talk to the kids and share a meal, we bring pizza or sometimes the school supplies the food and we get to know them and they get to know us. We are more approachable,” he explained.

“He [Christian] loves the police department. If he could he would be an officer right now,” said Tony.

Christian said he was excited and can’t wait to join the police academy. “It’s going to be something that will help the police,” he said.

“It’s a good way to get the community involved in what options we offer them,” Schenke told TAPinto.

Activities for the children included board breaking at the Clifton Martial Arts booth and a dance demonstration by Ellis Dance Studio and kid’s yoga.

“All the town departments are very supportive of healthy living. It’s a great way to promote it. We are thankful for Spring Garden School for hosting [the health fair],” said Mayor Joseph Scarpelli.

“It’s a wonderful idea, fun for all to learn about and see the services available,” said Sal Balsamo.  “It’s a lot of fun,” added PJ Balsamo, 8.

On the way out parents received a survey about the fair. One of the 11 questions asked for parents input on how to improve the event for next year.

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