The Y had an exceptional first half of the year focusing on the well-being of our communities in Texas. We have actively engaged children, families and seniors in a variety of activities to reach their wellness goals. To address the chronic disease problem that affects so many of our loved ones, we have delivered evidence-based prevention and intervention programs to help them reach their full-potential. As the advocate for a healthier Texas, we promise to persistently promote healthy living, youth development and social responsibility.
As stewards of social responsibility, the Texas State Alliance of YMCAs is charged with safeguarding the health and wellness of Texans. We believe that true improvements to healthy living will progress through policy, system and environmental change and we want to promote those tenants in our advocacy efforts. In our branches, we provide programs that mirror our advocacy priorities; making our neighborhoods healthier. For instance, during the summer months Ys will continue to address the growing public health concerns of chronic diseases like childhood obesity and diabetes. A huge component of healthy living is raising awareness and providing education about ways to easily adopt healthier lifestyles. During Healthy Kids Day®, the Y’s largest national initiatives event supporting our focus on healthy living, we encouraged hundreds of kids and parents to keep the body and mind active during the summer. In the summer season, kids are affected by weight gain and the summer learning loss where they fall behind in their studies. Our programs allow us to address these problems by making sure kids’ bodies and brains remain active. Did you know 2.4 million children qualify for free and/or reduced lunch programs yet during the summer months many kids go hungry? To help end hunger, we have partnered with CitySquare to offer meals at our camps and learning centers in communities such as Austin, Corsicana, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Waco at no cost to children in low-income areas. Healthy eating is just as important as physical activity for children’s health and we are proud to provide nutritious meals to Texas children.
We have tons of great things happening at the Y. We aim to make a big difference and provide better insight to decision-makers on which issues are most important to our communities. In order to be successful, we need your support in promoting social responsibility. If you are passionate about youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, take your passion to the next level by joining our advocacy network. By signing on as an advocate you lend your voice to important causes that affect you, your family and the places you reside and work. Together let’s make our communities a better place to live.
Thank you for your continued support of the Texas State Alliance of YMCAs!
James Finck, Chair
Texas State Alliance of YMCAs
Advocates are the backbone of any cause-driven organization. We know that when engaged advocates connect to a cause, they have the potential to inspire and spark change! Please join the YMCA's advocacy network by TAKING ACTION here! Together, we can fight childhood obesity and make Texas a healthier place for our kids to live!
Austin, TX – Since the 83rd Texas Legislative Session ended, the Texas State Alliance of YMCAs did not waste any time to prepare for the upcoming 84th Session. Since last summer, we continued to strengthen our relationships with state elected officials and their staff. During our meetings with legislators and their staff, we discussed our goal to make Texas the healthiest state in the United States as well as how the Ys are serving constituents from their district through various events and programs.
We are very thankful for the following elected officials and their staff for taking the time to learn about our three areas of focus and how we aim to address the childhood obesity epidemic by improving physical activity standards:
The 84th Texas Legislative Session begins on January 13, 2015 and the Texas State Alliance of YMCAs will continue to build positive relationships with state legislators and advocate for a healthier Texas.
Dallas, TX – On Monday, May 12th, Congressman Marc Veasey, a member of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus held a community forum at the Lakewest Family YMCA to inform local seniors about the impact of diabetes in North Texas, and how they can benefit from the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. Along with Congressman Veasey, Gordon Echtenkamp, CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas; Tony Shuman, CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth; Irene Johnson, Director of Quality Assurance and Program Development at the YMCA of Arlington; and Quin Neal, Executive Director of the American Diabetes Association of North Texas joined the community event to raise awareness of the importance of diabetes prevention. The University of the Texas Southwestern Medical Center provided free blood glucose screening to the attending seniors to check for their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious health condition that can lead to other life-threatening diseases. In the United Sates, 79 million adults are estimated to have pre-diabetes that could later become type 2 diabetes. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is designed to decrease the risk of pre-diabetics developing type 2 diabetes. The desired outcomes are that during the 12 month program, participants lose 7% of their body weight and gradually increase their physical activity to 150 minutes per week. These results are achieved by providing resources such as a lifestyle coach and a complimentary membership to the Y. In Texas, the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program has been successful in over 17 communities. Moreover, the Y’s Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities (SPHC) initiative to fight childhood obesity also helps to prevent diabetes by lowering children’s risk of developing diabetes as they grow older.
To learn more about the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program, please click here.
Wichita Falls, TX - The Y’s effort to reduce the rate of childhood obesity in Texas does not stop at large urban areas like Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. The YMCA of Wichita Falls is helping families reduce the area's high rate of childhood obesity and diabetes with creativity. Sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity can contribute to weight gain for both children and adults, increasing the risk of childhood obesity and diabetes. The Wichita Falls YMCA’s Kicks and Sticks program is designed so that participants, both children and adults, can have fun without realizing they are actually exercising. Increases in physical activity can prevent childhood obesity and reduce the risk of other chronic disease for adults.
Austin, TX – If you know what the Y’s three areas of focus are, it is easy to realize why we are addressing the childhood obesity epidemic in Texas. As a cause driven organization with a focus on Healthy Living, Youth Development and Social Responsibility, offering free programs like MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It!) makes perfect sense. MEND is a family-focused childhood obesity intervention program for youth ages 7-13 and their parents. Here’s Saul’s story of how MEND has changed him and his family.
Saul now laughs, “Before I started MEND I was an indoor boy. Now I’m playing with my friends and getting exercise outdoors all the time. I didn’t even realize how much I was learning. It just felt like good fun. The games helped me get healthy, and that is the best part of my day.” Saul’s mom Elbia says, “The best part is that my kids and my family have learned how to eat in new, healthy ways. We’ve learned how to buy food, to exercise, to move and stay healthy. Those are the biggest benefits of the program. I love that Saul has taken charge of reading labels when we go shopping, closely checking the calories, sugars, fats – all the nutritional content we never paid attention to before. The biggest impact of this program has been on my two kids. They’ve improved their communication with people, and they’ve become focused on how food affects their quality of life. That is the greatest gift of MEND.”
Kerrville, TX – The YMCA of Kerr County welcomed YMCA representatives from across Texas including Arlington, Austin, Midland, San Antonio, Victoria and Wichita Falls to train trainers on the Texas Education Agency’s approved curriculum, CATCH. The cost of the training was covered by the Texas State Alliance of YMCAs, which was made possible through our partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Kerr County YMCA is now the “unofficial” hub of YMCA CATCH Train the Trainer workshops.
For over 25 years, the CATCH program has guided children on how to be healthy for a lifetime and is considered as one of the best nationally recognized obesity prevention programs in the country. Numerous YMCAs across the nation offer CATCH in many of their afterschool programs. In Texas, the CATCH curriculum has been successfully implemented in 57% of the state's elementary schools and 46% middle schools. The Ys that participated successfully completed the 3-day training and are now certified to train any YMCA staff member in Texas on CATCH. Here’s a list of the CATCH certified trainer in your region:
Melissa Debrecht, Membership and Healthy Lifestyles Director: YMCA of Arlington
Rayshonda Farria, Childcare Director: YMCA of Arlington
Katie Hegefeld, Program Coordinator: YMCA of Austin
Michele Morales, Executive Director: YMCA of the Golden Crescent
Alex Padron, YMCA of the Golden Crescent
Valarie Cadenhead, School Age & Day Camp Director: YMCA of Kerr County
Brenda Thompson, CEO: YMCA of Kerr County
Curtis Fooshead, Doyle School Community Center & volunteer: YMCA of Kerr County
Amanda White, Program Admin. Secretary: YMCA of Midland
Abbey Borrego, Front Desk Supervisor: YMCA of Midland
Craig Walter, Director of Youth Wellness: YMCA of Greater San Antonio
Donisha Reed, Health & Wellness Director: YMCA of Wichita Falls
Special thanks to these outstanding YMCA staff members that are dedicated to improving the health of youth!
Killeen, TX – While the Central Texas Armed Services YMCA have exclusively served the Killeen’s military community of 42,000 soldiers, 80,000 dependents, and 14,000 retirees in the past, they hope to expand their service to local communities by building a new facility. This project is monumental because it will be the first Armed Services YMCA to operate outside of a military installation. The Central Texas Armed Services YMCA is close to achieving its fundraising goal to build a facility that will benefit military families and the whole community including students from a local school district and patients in local hospitals. Many Ys in Texas, including the Central Texas Armed Services YMCA, are partnering with public and/or private entities through joint-use agreements to serve their communities more effectively. For example, the new facility’s natatorium will both serve Y members and Killeen Independent School District students for swim practices and classes. Seton Medical Center Harker Heights believes that the new facility will give Seton’s patients greater access to rehabilitation services as they work in therapy pools and other health programs. Both Killeen ISD and Seton Medical Center each donated $2 million to the cause of making their community healthier, while the U.S. government provided $1.2 million.
Odessa, TX – Hundreds of volunteers united in early May to build a new playground in Odessa in a single day. The Odessa YMCA playground was built based on a child’s drawing created at a special design event in March when 40 kids were asked to draw their dream park. Among the volunteers was a 10-year-old Yamillie Tercero who has been coming to the Odessa YMCA since she was six months old.
“The YMCA has been a big part of my life since I’ve been growing up and I’m so excited for this playground to be finished so all the other kids can enjoy it, just like I will,” she said.
This open-to-public playground was built in a team effort between the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, the Odessa Family YMCA and KaBOOM! This community project is about creating safe environments where children can play outside and get exercise. This is a great opportunity to introduce the importance of health to children and the Odessa YMCA will utilize the playground as they combat childhood obesity.