YMCA USA Holds Conference Addressing Health Epidemic

The YMCA of the USA is leading the initiative to improve the health of communities nationwide.
( [email protected] ) Sep 15, 2004 08:37 PM EDT

The YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) is taking the initiative to address America’s health epidemic of obesity and chronic disease.

Around 30 experts and 140 representatives from difference community sectors including medicine and science, government, business and academia, recently gathered in Washington D.C. for the “YMCA Activate America: Pioneering Healthier Communities National Conference,” held by the Y-USA.

The conference was developed by Y-USA with assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"With its deep-rooted presence in more than 10,000 communities and neighborhoods nationwide, a long-standing commitment to health and wellness and a track record of pioneering programs that respond to timely societal needs, no other organization is better suited to take the lead in improving the health of Americans than the YMCA of the USA," said Kenneth Gladish, Ph.D, national executive director.

"With the Activate America initiative, the YMCA is furthering its leadership role of promoting healthier living for all adults and youth."

Three community health experts Tyler Norris (President and CEO, Community Initiatives LLC; Chair, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Active Living by Design Project; and former Founding Executive Director of U.S. Healthier Cities and Communities), said there are four common characteristics that must be present for a community to successfully achieve its goals, which are:

1. Recognition that health has nothing to do with medical care and everything to do with creating an environment that supports healthy lifestyle and behaviors.

2. A demonstrated ability to build upon intact relationships and networks to achieve goals, and not just discard what has come before in light of the exciting new flavor of the day.

3. A commitment to making the whole community accountable to building healthy, active living into the fabric of the community's life and holistically measuring progress and successes.

4. An engaged citizenry - who will be active in the political and advocacy processes necessary to improve the active health of the community.

Representatives from each of these community teams will reconvene next year to share any successful models that can be replicated to improve the health of other communities.