Planning session set for a healthier Princeton

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By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
From the looks of it, Princeton and its residents are pretty healthy — and Princeton Future wants to help it to stay that way.
That’s why the group is inviting the public to join it in discussing “Princeton Looks to a Healthy Future — Your Lifestyle, Our Community” on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the Community Room at the Princeton Public Library on Witherspoon Street.
Princeton Future is helping to collect, manage, analyze and disseminate health-related decisions about all of the community — residents, students and employees — and how the Princeton community’s lifestyle impacts the health of its citizens.
The topics to be discussed range from “Where is Healthcare Going,” to “Introducing the Board of Health,” “The Quality of a Healthy Diet,” “Driving Assessment in Princeton” and “Becoming a Team Leader of the Princeton Health Corps.”
The presenters include Princeton Councilwoman Heather Howard, who teaches at Princeton University, as well as Dr. George DiFerdinando, who chairs the Princeton Board of Health, and Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser. Also speaking will be Rick Weiss, who sits on the boards of Princeton Future and the Princeton Board of Health, and Ralph Widner and Kevin Wilkes of Princeton Future.
Saturday morning’s presentation is the brainchild of Mr. Weiss. It grew out of discussions on traffic and parking within Princeton Future, and morphed into the topic of the health of the community. Mr. Weiss said he thought it would be interesting to expand the discussion to lifestyles, and mentioned it to Mr. Grosser, the health officer.
“We want to engage more of the community,” Mr. Weiss said. “We want active participation to help us figure out the best way to do this — to collect and analyze the right information. We want to engage people to reach out to others in the community.”
Mr. Weiss and Dr. DiFerdinando also would like to explain the role of the Princeton Board of Health, for example. Few people realize what the Princeton Health Department and the Princeton Board of Health do.
Among its many activities and responsibilities, the Princeton Health Department inspects restaurants to ensure it is safe to eat there, and it also inspects swimming pools that are used by the community. The animal control officer works under the Princeton Health Department.
The Princeton Board of Health, on the other hand, is a policy- and rule-making body that works in conjunction with the Health Department. It is also involved in advocacy. It is made up of volunteers that include physicians, nurses, epidemiologists and others who are interested in health.
“The ‘big idea’ is how do all of us work together to plan to be a healthier community,” Dr. DiFerdinando said. Princeton Future wants to talk about the whole idea of health, and how the Princeton Health Department and the Princeton Board of Health fit into it.
“How do we plan to be healthier, with all that goes on in our lives,” Dr. DiFerdinando said. “How could we plan for a healthier Princeton. How would that be done? We want to get people together to talk about that very thing.”