Buda, TX - Each year Y-USA hosts its Leadership Symposium. The Leadership Symposium is a Y-USA partnership with Washington University in St. Louis. This year’s theme is “improving the nation’s health” which aligns perfectly with our Pioneering Healthier Communities initiatives. Forty of the YMCA leaders from across the nation were selected to embark on this most challenging and rewarding career-development experiences. The Symposium will feature four distinguished and nationally renowned scholars such as 17th Surgeon General of the United State, Richard Carmona. Two of the Y leaders in the Movement were selected from Austin, TX; Gary Davis, Associate Branch Executive at Hays Communities YMCA, and Ar’Sheill Sinclair, SPHC Program Manager. Successful Leadership Symposium participants will be charged with researching and writing original white papers on a topic of “improving the nation’s health.” Some of the best papers will be published in the Y’s new Journal of Community Strengthening.
Here’s a short interview with Gary:
1. Could you tell me more about the Hays Communities Y and how your Y is improving local community’s health?
The Hays Y makes an impact on our community’s health through many different programs. The y has programs such as: youth sports, adult sports, group exercise, swim lessons, opens swim, personal training, and many more. We have programs for members under doctor’s care, such as: diabetes prevention, LIVESTRONG at the Y, and RX for Healthy Living. This year we are trying to move out of the Y, and we aim to serve more of our community who are not able to get to the Y. The Hays branch is the only branch in Hays County, which is 680 sq. miles. We can’t do it all from the branch so we truly have to become a Y without walls.
2. Why did you apply for the Leadership Symposium (LS)?
After I received the nomination I had to research what I was nominated for. After I looked into the Leadership Symposium, I saw the area it will cover could greatly affect the health of the nation for future generation. To be a part of a team that could make such an impact was something I wanted to be a part of. As a lifelong learner it would put me in the position to learn from great minds, and it would allow me to educate others when I returned to our association. Our time on this planet is short. If I am able to make and impact I would be foolish to turn the opportunity down.
3. What do you want to accomplish by attending the LS?
Very simple, I wish to learn and use the knowledge to the betterment of our nation. The Y can set standards that the nation will follow. We can look into areas where change is needed, and we can reach many individuals and families across the nation through our programs.
4. Could you briefly talk about your ideas on improving the nation’s health?
Where I see the need for change is illness prevention. There are programs for pre and post diabetes, cancer survivors, and childhood obesity, but we need to reach the community before illness becomes a problem. The Y as a whole needs to develop more programs that reach the youth of today. We need to get out to our mission areas, and we need to reach the children and families in low income areas. These are areas have high levels of obesity and have a lack of programs for children to be active. Many of the illnesses that are becoming pandemic can be reduced for future generations by setting the youth of today into life full of healthy eating habits and exercise.