At a ceremony today at the Jewish Renaissance Medical Center (JRMC), representatives of the Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna Foundation presented a $24,000 check to support a new JRMC program aimed at helping local young people from the Latino community improve their health. The funding supports “Proyecto Muevete Junto” (“Let’s Move Together”), a program designed to address rising rates of obesity in the Latino community in Perth Amboy and surrounding towns. The program is working with 120 Latino boys and girls who are at risk of diabetes or other health problems arising from being overweight or obese. “Proyecto Muevete Junto” combines fun physical activities with lessons on nutrition and healthy eating. Speaking on behalf of the Aetna Foundation was Tanya Hall, community relations director of Aetna’s Northeast Region. “Teaching kids healthy habits in a fun way is a great way to make the lessons stick,” said Hall. “That’s why the Aetna Foundation found ‘Proyecto Muevete Junto’ to be a good fit. This program can help kids get healthier now and stay healthier in the future. The Aetna Foundation’s mission is to promote health and wellness, especially to underserved communities.” “As community leaders in health education, it was natural for us to build on our existing nutrition and wellness programs to develop one that would be culturally appropriate for Latino kids and their families in our area,” said Alan Goldsmith, Ph.D., JRMC’s founder and president, who accepted the donation at today’s event. “We believe that ‘Proyecto Muevete Junto’ will act as a support system to nurture healthier lives for the young people in the program. We are grateful for the Aetna Foundation’s support.” When participants start “Proyecto Muevete Junto,” they will be given an individualized fitness plan for diet and exercise, based on their body mass index, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, blood pressure and other clinical screenings. Then participants will take part in two eight-week sessions run by the Boys & Girls Club of Perth Amboy, where they will enjoy fun physical activities, cooking lessons, healthy eating tips and an array of games designed to boost their social skills. Parents will be encouraged to attend special workshops on health and wellness to help them become better advocates for healthier living for their children and themselves. In addition, Spanish-speaking staff members, aged 18 to 24, will serve as mentors and advocates for the participants.