Crime and Obesity Stalk Trenton’s Children
The letter “Trenton’s early childhood development programs need funding” (July 6) focuses on early childhood education, which brings to mind broader issues concerning children’s health.
Trenton Health Team partners have identified and prioritized these broader issues by creating a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) for Trenton, which we will share at the city council meeting July 18.
Through the CHNA process, we have identified crime and obesity as our most pressing initial priorities related to children’s health. Our needs assessment has been informed by the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) research, which demonstrates a powerful relationship between our emotional experiences as children and our physical and mental health as adults, as well as the major causes of adult mortality in the U.S. The ACE study reveals the evolution of traumatic emotional experiences in childhood into organic disease later in life.
Crime impacts many areas of a child’s life, including education and exercise. Trenton children attend school at the risk of gang activity and must walk home under police protection for the same reason. Vice in Trenton parks leaves children with no place for active play.
The safety concerns that keep residents indoors fuel Trenton’s obesity epidemic, which hits city children particularly hard.
Nearly one in two Trenton preschoolers is overweight or obese, a statistic that holds true for the city’s youth through age 19.
Mix sedentary life with lack of access to the right kinds of food, and we have a complex situation that can lead to health problems that last well into adulthood.
Working through challenges related to adverse childhood experiences, crime, obesity and the other priorities uncovered by our CHNA will make the Trenton environment better for all the city’s residents, including children.
The THT will continue to collaborate to address the health needs of residents. We look forward to working with Children’s Futures and our other partners to secure better health for our city’s children.
About the Trenton Health Team
Trenton Health Team (THT) is an alliance of the city’s major providers of healthcare services including Capital Health, St. Francis Medical Center, Henry J. Austin Health Center and the city’s Health Department. In collaboration with residents and the city’s active social services network, THT is developing an integrated healthcare delivery system to transform the city’s fragmented primary care system and restore health to the city. THT aims to make Trenton the healthiest city in the state. Support for the Trenton Health Team was provided in part by a grant from The Nicholson Foundation. For more information, visit www.trentonhealthteam.org.