Healthy Life, July 2016

The YMCA Leads the Way in Community Health

by Kristen Hogan

2014-06-17_DPP_2186_RGB-2The Y has always been a leader in promoting healthy lifestyles and fostering wellness in all of the communities we serve. Now, the Y is hoping to lead the way in preventative health care by offering a broad range of research-based programs that target specific health issues.

Hoping to reduce the negative effects of chronic illness, the Y has launched several new programs that promote healthier decisions and support physical, intellectual and spiritual strength. These programs are delivered through the Y, school system, BREC swimming pools, community centers and through community partnerships.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, one of the new programs offered, is an innovative lifestyle modification program designed to help those at a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The goal of the program is to help people reduce their risk and gain the tools needed for healthy living. The program focuses on healthy eating, increasing physical activity and losing a modest amount of weight to reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Louisiana has one of the highest mortality rates due to diabetes in the country. More than 10 percent of the adult population in Louisiana is living with diabetes, and more than 1 million others are living with prediabetes. The state spends $1.6 billion annually in direct medical costs related to diabetes.

The Y also offers a blood pressure self-monitoring program, a four-month evidence-based program that teaches participants how to self-monitor their blood pressure, increase their physical activity, improve their eating habits and utilize a portable self-tracking tool. High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke, and it can cause arteries to fill up with plaque, potentially leading to completely blocked blood flow and a heart attack.

2014-06-16_DPP_0049_RGB-2Another innovative and evidence-based program offered at the Y is Rock Steady Boxing. Rock Steady Boxing is a fitness program designed to help fight Parkinson’s disease and improve quality of life, sense of efficacy and self-worth for those affected by the disease. Several medical studies have shown that this program helps delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

The YMCA’s focus goes beyond the health and well-being of the community; we have a strong commitment to nurturing the potential of youth with programs that focus on youth development. One in 10 children experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday, and in 90 percent of the cases, the abuser is someone the child knows and trusts. The Y is working to change these statistics by offering the child sexual abuse prevention program, Darkness to Light. This is a two-hour training is designed to educate adults on how to recognize, prevent and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

You can get involved in preventing child sexual abuse by attending a pre-scheduled training at the YMCA, participating in the online program, or scheduling a training for your organization where the Y will come to you!

In addition to the Darkness to Light program, the Y offers programs that focus on improving children’s safety around water. The Y’s Safety Around Water and SPLASH programs engage parents to educate them on the importance of water safety skills and provide more children access to water safety lessons.

Fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to 14. The Y is committed to reducing water-related injuries, particularly in communities where children are most at risk. Through programs like Swimming Lessons, SPLASH and Safety Around Water, the Y hopes to teach the valuable skills needed if someone finds himself or herself in water unexpectedly, a situation everyone should be equipped to handle.

The Y’s mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy, spirit, mind and body for all. The Y is open to individuals from all walks of life; it is a place where everyone is welcome regardless of their ethnicity, income level or background. To ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy all of the programs and services the Y offers, the Y has a scholarship fund, the Annual Community Support Campaign. The monies raised for this fund are used to scholarship individuals who need YMCA programs and services but are unable to afford them. Last year, the Y provided 6,347 scholarships for individuals to participate in YMCA programs. To find out how to donate or to apply for a scholarship, visit us online at