This year was a busy one! We worked hard to build and cultivate relationships with elected officials, their staff, and our coalition partners to finalize our advocacy priorities for 2015. As an Alliance, we will advocate for $5 million in state funding to reduce chronic diseases such as diabetes. The Texas State Alliance of YMCAs is committed to helping people reach their full potential by promoting healthier lifestyles. More than 1.8 million Texans are diabetic and another 1 million adults in Texas are estimated to have pre-diabetes. Research shows that over half of all new cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a structured lifestyle intervention program like the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based program that helps Texans reduce their risks of diabetes, promotes healthier lifestyles, and saves taxpayer dollars. The YMCA of Greater San Antonio, in collaboration with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, is seeing tremendous results from their Diabetes Prevention Program and other wellness initiatives.
In our youth development focus area we will work toward establishing a Distinguished Afterschool Health (DASH) award which will recognize out-of-school time providers that successfully promote healthy eating and physical activity standards. More than 880,000 Texas children participate in an afterschool program and it’s imperative that Texas youth are given the utmost quality of care and are kept healthy and safe. Also under our youth development focus area, we are pushing to increase middle and junior high school physical education requirements to include at least 225 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity for six semesters. Increasing the amount of time youth are engaged in physical activity can improve a child’s health, academic achievement, concentration, memory, and classroom behavior. We know that by instilling healthy habits in our children from a young age, we can increase the chance of them continuing to make healthy choices in the future. For example, the Palestine YMCA is continuing to invest in their community by developing a brand new youth soccer complex that will help serve as a community catalyst for more physical activity.
Lastly, we will work to establish a YMCA Legislative Caucus, comprised of legislators affiliated with YMCAs in their districts, to advocate on issues that affect youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Through this Caucus, we will have a stronger voice and presence at the Capitol and ultimately continue to promote our mission of a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. The Y is committed to promoting innovative strategies to meet the needs of Texas communities and we are uniquely positioned to bridge gaps and form collaborations. A great example of collaboration can be seen in our YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas is modeling community partnerships by merging with the Rise School of Dallas in order to enhance the quality of early education and service to children and their families.
All around the state, Texas Ys are working hard to promote our three focus areas: healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility. It’s exciting to see the growth of the Alliance and the investment that Texas Ys are making in their communities. Together, we can advocate for sound public policies that promote positive change for all Texans.
James P. Finck, Chair
Texas State Alliance of YMCAs