The Y to Expand Efforts to Lead Change in Communities Nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 16, 2011) – Today, the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) the national resource office of YMCAs in the U.S., announced the Y’s expansion of its Healthier Communities Initiatives, efforts that focus on making policy and environmental changes that support healthy lifestyles in communities across the United States.

The YMCA’s Healthier Communities Initiatives are built on the concept that local communities can work together to give all community members healthy choices.  Through grants awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 26 YMCA communities have been chosen to either begin the process of convening local teams of community leaders, or expand their current work to reach the most vulnerable populations in their communities.  

“Through the YMCA’s Healthier Communities Initiatives, we work together with other community leaders to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Neil Nicoll, YMCA of the USA President and CEO. “YMCA’s are committed to strengthening communities, and these efforts are improving America’s health one community at a time by changing the way leaders think about how their communities support physical activity and healthy eating.”

Ys engaged in Healthier Communities Initiatives are helping families put nutritious food on the table by bringing farmers markets with fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods where healthy food options are scarce; making streets safe for pedestrians and cyclists through “complete streets” plans; giving parents peace of mind when they let their kids walk to school by creating safer routes; and keeping a generation of kids healthier by working with schools to increase physical education and physical activity during the school day.

The 26 communities being announced today are joining either YMCA’s Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) initiative or Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental changE (ACHIEVE) initiative.  Launched in 2004, PHC is the Y’s signature initiative to create opportunities for healthy living through policy and environmental change.  Inspired in part by PHC, ACHIEVE was launched in 2008 to prevent chronic diseases and related risk factors.  It is designed to unite YMCAs, local and state health departments, parks and recreation departments and other community based organizations more formally in the fight against chronic disease. ACHIEVE is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is a partnership among the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Society for Public Health Education and Y-USA.

Pioneering Healthier Communities:
Sixteen communities have been selected to join Pioneering Healthier Communities. Y-USA has previously provided seed funding to 117 Ys and their communities to take on policy and environmental change strategies thanks to funding from CDC, and corporate and foundation donors.  Ten communities are joining PHC for the first time, and six communities that have previously been engaged in PHC will now expand their efforts to include a health equity focus to create change in neighborhoods most affected by health disparities in order to make it easier for kids, individuals, and families to lead healthier lifestyles regardless of income, education or ethnicity.

YMCA’s selected to join PHC (**indicates Ys selected to engage in health equity focus):
YMCA of Broward County – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Maui Family YMCA – Wailuku, HI
Kishwaukee Family YMCA Inc. – DeKalb, IL
Two Rivers YMCA - Rock Island, Ill.**
Burlington Area Community YMCA-YWCA – Burlington, Iowa
YMCA of Wichita Kansas – Wichita, Kan.**
Old Colony YMCA – Brockton, Mass.
Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center – Augusta, Mich.
Battle Creek Family YMCA – Battle Creek, Mich.**
YMCA of Greater New York – Brooklyn, N.Y.**
YMCA of Western North Carolina Inc. – Asheville, N.C.**
Goldsboro Family YMCA – Goldsboro, N.C.
YMCA of Lima Ohio – Lima, Ohio
YMCA of Greater Providence – Providence, R.I.**
YMCA of East Tennessee – Knoxville, Tenn.
YMCA of Greater Salt Lake Area – Salt Lake City, Utah

Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental changE (ACHIEVE):
Ten communities have also been selected to join Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental changE (ACHIEVE).
YMCA of Greater Whittier – Whittier, Calif.
Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut Inc. – Brookfield, Conn.
Florida’s First Coast YMCA – Metropolitan – Jacksonville, Fla.
Metropolitan Augusta YMCA – Augusta, Ga.
Hopkinsville/Christian County Family YMCA – Hopkinsville, Ky.
Concord Family YMCA – Concord, N.H.
Ocean County YMCA – Toms River, N.J.
YMCA of Summit NJ – Summit, N.J.
Milan Family YMCA – Milan, Tenn.
Clallam County YMCA Inc. – Port Angeles, Wash.

Communities involved in the YMCA’s Healthier Communities Initiatives form leadership teams that work together to plan and implement policy, systems, and environmental change strategies that encourage good health and afford opportunities for community members to become healthier.

Building on lessons learned from past and current healthy community initiatives, YMCAs in these 26 communities will bring together a team of local leaders, including elected officials, state and local directors of public health organizations, business leaders from various industries and leaders of local schools, parks and recreation departments, foundations and hospitals who will plan and implement strategies for healthy change, responding to the needs of their individual communities.

In addition to funding from CDC, this critical initiative has also received generous support from Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, PepsiCo Foundation, Aquafina, JCPenney Afterschool and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

For more information about the YMCA’s Healthier Communities Initiatives visit


About the Y
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,687 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

Kelly Kennai
YMCA of the USA

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

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