YMCA of the USA Expands Healthy Communities Initiatives With $6.8 Million Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ — YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) has
received a $6.8 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
to expand an innovative national initiative that helps communities address
rising rates of chronic disease. Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC)
encourages policy and environmental change in communities to promote healthy
lifestyles and provides opportunities for increased physical activity and
improved nutrition. The public announcement of the grant was made today at
the Activate America(R) Pioneering Healthier Communities national conference
in Arlington, Va.

“YMCAs have championed healthier communities for nearly 160 years. We are
recognized for our ability to bring people together on solutions to the
challenges communities across the country face. To produce lasting change, we
need to create healthier environments where we live, work, learn and play,”
said Neil Nicoll, Y-USA of the USA president and chief executive officer.
“The investment by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will help us continue to
address the critical issues that affect our nation’s health and will allow us
to provide support in the places it is needed most.”

Every year since launching the initiative in 2004, Y-USA has chosen a new
group of cities and counties to take on the charge of transforming their
communities into healthier environments. The YMCAs in those areas then
convene a team of local leaders who are committed to advancing policy and
environmental change and who agree to help lead the process from planning to
implementation. Many of the communities involved in PHC to date have
reinstated physical education in schools, strengthened school vending and
snack policies, improved trail systems and bike paths, created local walking
clubs, planted community gardens, started or enhanced farmers’ markets and
worked with mobile food pantries-all changes aimed at healthier living.

The new grant from RWJF will allow Y-USA to continue to spread its
learning and experience in community-level efforts and develop them as a
statewide model for six states where childhood obesity rates are among the
highest in the country. These states will be identified early next year.
Each team will receive $50,000 over a two year period to cover training and
seed implementation of a community action plan.

“Combating obesity calls on us to change the very landscape of our
communities,” said James Marks, M.D., M.P.H., a senior vice president and
director, Health Group, at RWJF. “That’s why the YMCA’s approach here is so
right and so exciting and why we are supporting it so enthusiastically.”

Community teams selected to participate in Pioneering Healthier
Communities are provided with ongoing learning opportunities to explore
creative, proven strategies to improve their community’s well-being through
greater physical activity and healthy eating.

The initiative is part of Activate America(R), the YMCA’s response to
alarming trends in the nation’s chronic disease rates. In addition to the
RWJF grant, PHC is supported by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (Cooperative Agreement #1U58DP001686).

     Kelly Kennai

[Via http://www.prnewswire.com]

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