The Cancer Institute Of NJ Seeks Local Houses Of Worship For Health Initiative

NEW BRUNSWICK – The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) is inviting houses of worship in the greater New Brunswick area to take part in an expanded community health effort stemming from an initiative known as the Body & Soul program. Body & Soul ‘Plus,’ funded by a grant from Johnson & Johnson, focuses on unique ways to improve one’s health through the promotion of nutrition and physical activity. CINJ is a Center of Excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Body & Soul is an evidence-based program developed by the National Cancer Institute in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan. CINJ has been working with the Body & Soul program since 2006 to provide important health information to local places of worship. One of the original participants was Mount Zion AME Church of New Brunswick, whose congregants have embraced information about healthy eating and physical activity and are still following the core values of the program today.


Through the Body & Soul ‘Plus’ program, CINJ will provide participating clergy with a tool kit designed to help them build awareness of healthier living within their congregations. Through regular meetings, these ‘ambassadors’ will be provided with resource materials, such as healthy recipes and exercise DVD’s to share with congregants, in order to stress the benefits of such things as increased fruit and vegetable intake and incorporating exercise into one’s daily routine.

Houses of worship also can receive technical assistance in designing a sustainable exercise program specifically tailored for the needs of their members. A healthy produce distribution program is also part of the effort, and ambassadors from participating congregations will be given information about locally-supported agriculture and the opportunity to bring fresh vegetables and fruit directly to the communities they serve.

“We want to call attention to the fact that healthy habits can help lower the risk of cancer as well as other chronic health problems that arise from diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol,” said Shawna Hudson, PhD, director of community research at CINJ. “Unhealthy habits are much easier to reverse than many of the ailments that stem from them,” she said.

Congregations will be able to implement the components of the program as they see fit in order to provide the most benefit to their members. This could also include supplementing any programs they may already have in place. “Our best bet in conquering cancer is prevention. The goal is to create lasting lifestyle changes, resulting in better health and fewer cancer diagnoses,” said Dr. Hudson, who is also an associate professor of family medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Houses of worship in the greater New Brunswick area that are interested in participating in the Body & Soul Plus program, including those in surrounding Middlesex and Somerset Counties, can call Kiameesha Evans, CINJ Office of Community Outreach at 1-732-235-9884 or e-mail:

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