The West Cook YMCA is rolling out a new initiative aimed at moving members and the community towards a healthier future. West Cook YMCA President and CEO Phillip Jiménez says the healthy living framework goes hand in hand with the YMCA’s mission.

“Our primary focus is on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We’re honing in on healthy living with this initiative to help families be healthy. We’re also moving into communities and assisting society as a whole become healthier.”

This new initiative takes a bi-fold approach, addressing the individual and today’s cultural shift towards wellness. Branching out from an individual fitness model, the Y will have a more significant and broader impact on the communities it serves.

Building healthy habits will move beyond the individual: impacting families with family camps and adventure guides; assisting organizations with workplace wellness programs to promote healthy eating and physical activity and reaching whole communities through healthy environments for fitness, health screenings and health fairs.

Jonathan Lever, Vice President for Health and Strategy Innovation at YMCA of the USA, notes that the West Cook YMCA’s rollout is part of a national movement.

“The Y is uniquely positioned as an organization that can touch individuals, communities and society. Eighty percent of US households are within five miles of a YMCA. We continue to strengthen our fitness activities while promoting growth in community wellness, which in turn affects societal wellness.”

The healthy living framework will also affect change on a societal level.

Risk reduction programs address diabetes prevention, childhood obesity, fall prevention and smoking cessation. There are programs to reclaim health focus on cardiac rehab, diabetes control, arthritis treatment and cancer survivorship. Senior programming, like the Silver Sneakers exercise program and Moving for Better Balance, help enrollees improve their quality of life, muscular strength and range of motion.

Lever notes that the YMCA really is becoming a public health institution. “When we focus on promoting wellness, reducing risk and reclaiming health, we touch all areas of wellness. When all of these dimensions are working together, you start to see changes for the better,” he said.

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