The West Cook YMCA will join a nationwide push to fight childhood obesity with a piece of a $6.8 million grant, the local branch announced Monday.

Oak Park is one of 16 communities selected Monday in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio to take part in the Y’s national Pioneering Healthy Communities campaign, an effort that aims to reduce childhood obesity with a multi-pronged approach.

The 16 Midwestern communities join another 16 selected last year in Connecticut, Kentucky and Tennessee that will share the $6.8 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“The significance of having this grant for our community around this issue cannot be underestimated,” President and CEO of the West Cook YMCA Jan Pate said in a statement. Pate is also an Oak Park village trustee.

“Convening the community around this issue gives us all a chance to work together and bring our very best ideas forward knowing that we have the expertise and resources behind us to make significant and impactful policy changes in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, and building healthy environments,” Pate said.

The West Cook YMCA’s wellness coordinator, Meredith Conn, will work with Elizabeth Lippitt, executive director of the Children’s Clinic, to create a concrete program for Oak Park to fight youth obesity.

West Cook will get $52,000 from the grant, which will be used for Conn and Lippitt’s expenses in creating the plan.

-Ben Meyerson

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