Spring is the sign of new beginnings, which is why I am proud to serve as the new chair of the Texas State Alliance of YMCAs. For the past few years, Ys across Texas have worked diligently to build awareness around youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We started by partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to reduce youth obesity through our programs and advocacy efforts. We gained so much momentum that we brought along other partners, such as the Voices for Healthy Kids, to continue our fight towards reducing youth obesity, specifically in the out-of-school time arena. Fast forward to the present day and we are working with great legislative champions on HB 168 and SB 757, bills that would recognize out-of-school time providers who go above & beyond the state’s minimum licensing standards when it comes to promoting physical activity and nutrition.
This policy is extremely important for families across Texas as it gives parents more information on the quality of care available to their children. Simply put, parents and caregivers deserve quality programming and easy access to information that informs their childcare decisions. The good news is that most licensed providers are already implementing various components of healthy eating and physical activity in their programs. With that in mind, there is an opportunity to focus on the role that those providers can play in shaping our youth’s development. During our State Advocacy Days in February, we met with more than 40 elected officials that have Ys within their district as well as members of the Texas YMCA Legislative Caucus to advocate in support of this endeavor. The Y, along with our partners and other like-minded organizations, want to create policies that would ensure a positive future for Texas kids.
As the new chair, I plan to foster support around our three areas of focus as well as continue to address chronic diseases for both youth and adults. It’s important that we, as YMCA advocates, work to keep youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility at the forefront of state conversations and proposed solutions. As our legislation moves along in the process we hope that we can count on your support. Sign up for our action alerts so you can know when to call your elected officials about HB 168 and SB 757, have an opportunity to write a letter of support to committee members, and share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #txlege. No form of advocacy is too small and everything you do gets us one step closer in making Texas a healthy place to live, grow and thrive.
Tony Shuman, Chair
Texas State Alliance of YMCAs