LB joins YMCA’s Pioneering Healthier Communities

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ymca-healthy-communitiesYMCA of the USA  announced that 21 new communities, including the city of Long Beach, are joining Pioneering Healthier Communities. PHC is a signature initiative that brings together high-level community leaders to create environments that help sustain healthy behaviors through environmental and policy change.

Since its inception in 2004,Pioneering Healthier Communities has tasked a groups of communities with transforming their hometowns into model healthy communities each year. Communities involved in PHC have had success in influencing systemic changes that affect community walkability and pedestrian safety; access to fresh fruits and vegetables; worksite wellness and physical education requirements in schools.

“Y-USA created PHC to address the growing rates of chronic disease caused largely by inactivity and poor diet. We understood that we could have a greater impact if we empowered communities to work together to build and sustain healthier neighborhoods,” said Neil Nicoll, YMCA of the USA President and CEO. “By stepping outside of our walls, YMCAs have also been able to change the way local leaders think about how their communities impact healthy lifestyles.”

Each year, Pioneering Healthier Communities teams are:

  • Influencing policy makers to provide opportunities for kids to be physically active before, during and after the school day.
  • Building new or enhancing existing walking/biking trails and sidewalks for community members to be active;
  • Working with employers to provide workplaces that support healthy eating and activity; and
  • Providing opportunities for residents to purchase and consume fresh fruits and vegetables through community-gardens, farmers markets, and other activities.

PHC is part of the YMCA’s Healthier Communities Initiatives, which also includes Statewide PHC and Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental ChangE . The Healthier Communities Initiatives engage community leaders, convened by local YMCA’s, in policy and environmental change efforts that support and promote healthy lifestyles. These initiatives empower local communities with proven strategies and models to create and sustain positive, lasting change for healthy living.

What’s Next for the 2009 Pioneering Healthier Communities

Following the model of the 2004-08 communities, YMCAs in these new 21 communities will bring together a team of local leaders, including elected officials, state and local directors of public health organizations, business leaders from various industries and leaders of local schools, parks and recreation departments, foundations and hospitals who will plan and implement strategies for healthy change.

These teams will convene at the Pioneering Healthier Communities national conference December 9-11 in Washington, D.C. This sixth-annual conference will focus on educating these community leaders about strategies and models for bringing about community solutions that have been replicated nationwide. Attendees will learn about evidence-based approaches to affecting change from nationally-known experts.

The 21 communities are: Lompoc, Calif.; Long Beach, Calif.; Ontario, Calif.; Moultrie, Ga.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Evansville, Ind.; Noble County, Ind.; Greater Cadillac Area, Mich.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Albert Lea, Minn.; Duluth, Minn.; Fulton, Mo.; St. Joseph, Mo.; Flemington, N.J.; Burlington County, N.J.; Guildford County, N.C.; Defiance, Ohio; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Grants Pass, Ore.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Windham County, Vt.

For more information about Pioneering Healthier Communities go to www.ymca.net/activateamerica. Visit www.ymca.net to find your local YMCA.

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