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Stoughton YMCA Receives Grant for “Pioneering Healthier Communities” Initiative

Ten community leaders will head to Washington, DC on Monday, July 25 for a three day trip to help jump-start the program.

Press Release from the YMCA:

Stoughton’s was selected by YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) to participate in a program known as Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) – an effort that will help make the healthy choice, the easy choice for residents of Stoughton.   

Pioneering Healthier Communities is part of the YMCA’s Healthier Communities Initiatives, which focus on making policy and environmental changes that support healthy lifestyles.

The program is built on the concept that local communities can work together to give all community members healthy choices. 

Through grants awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 16 communities have been chosen to either begin the process of convening local teams of community leaders, or expand their current work to reach the most vulnerable populations in their communities. 

The first step is sending a leadership team from Stoughton to Washington, DC to help get the resources needed to move this program forward, here in town.

The Stoughton leadership team includes:

  • Karen Hall, Director of COA and Youth commission
  • Terry Schiender, Chamber of Commerce
  • Teresa Tapper, CHNA steering Committee
  • Kim Hollon, CEO, Signature Health
  • Holy Boykin, Finance Committee
  • Joyce Husseini, school committee and wellness committee
  • Lisa Parent, Department of public health
  • John Anderson, Vice Chairman, Stoughton Board of Selectman
  • Vinnie Marturano, President/CEO of Old Colony YMCA
  • Joyce Dwyer, Senior Executive Director, Striar YMCA

The group will be leaving for Washington on Monday, July 25 and will be returning Wednesday, July 27.

The Stoughton YMCA applied for this program and was selected after a competitive review process. 

“The Y is dedicated to strengthening community,” said Joyce Dwyer, Senior Executive Director of the Stoughton YMCA. 

“Participating in PHC will help our families, friends and neighbors live their lives to the fullest potential. We are honored to be selected to be part of the growing movement of communities who are leading healthy change through policy strategies."

Ys engaged in Healthier Communities Initiatives are helping families put nutritious food on the table by bringing farmers markets with fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods where healthy food options are scarce; making streets safe for pedestrians and cyclists through “complete streets” plans; giving parents peace of mind when they let their kids walk to school by creating safer routes; and keeping a generation of kids healthier by working with schools to increase physical education and physical activity during the school day. These examples are just the beginning.

About Pioneering Healthier Communities

Sixteen communities have been selected to join Pioneering Healthier Communities, the Y’s signature initiative to create opportunities for healthy living through policy and environmental change. 

Launched in 2004, Y-USA has previously provided seed funding to 117 Ys and their communities to take on policy and environmental change strategies thanks to funding from CDC, and corporate and foundation donors. 

Ten communities are joining PHC for the first time, and six communities that have previously been engaged in PHC will now expand their efforts to include a health equity focus to create change in neighborhoods most affected by health disparities in order to make it easier for kids, individuals, and families to lead healthier lifestyles regardless of income, education or ethnicity.

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YMCA Pioneering Healthy Communities

YMCAs are known for their ability to bring people together every day to generate solutions for challenges facing communities across the nation. The urgent challenge facing children, their caregivers and adults to find healthier lifestyles demands a fundamentally new and aggressive social response. This response requires that:

  • High-level community leaders are involved at every step, utilizing their positions, influence and ability to make changes within their organization and within the greater community.
  • Multiple sectors and diverse organizations are involved to maximize experience, assets, resources and skills.
  • The ultimate goal is to influence policy and environmental changes to improve community environments.
  • Local initiatives are organically grown with strategies specific to the needs of each community.
  • YMCAs serve as conveners in the community and co-leads with partners.

Through this initiative, community leaders—such as public health officials, town selectmen, town administrators, state legislators, transportation and education officials, voluntary health/disease group partners, hospital executives, philanthropic foundation leaders, presidents of local businesses, leaders from faith-based community organizations, professors and chairs of academic institutions and executives of chambers of commerce—have an opportunity to collectively influence opportunities for residents in their community to be healthier through the planning and implementation of evidence-based strategies that influence policies and environmental changes that support healthy living.

Goals of PHC

  • Develop community-level policy and environmental change strategies that increase opportunities for physi­cal activity and healthy eating.
  • Raise awareness and strengthen the framework for com­munity-wide and national movements among all sectors of society to reverse the trends in physical inactivity, poor nutrition, obesity and other chronic conditions.
  • Strengthen community capacity to initiate and sustain promising practices for healthy communities.
  • Utilize mechanisms and strategies to transform healthy community principles into practice.
  • Identify cost-effective, practical and sustainable solu­tions and tools that teams can replicate to educate and mobilize communities to make sustainable changes that support healthy living.
  • Build complementary community, state and national efforts by implementing policy and environmental change strategies for all sectors to increase support for healthy living.

Currently PHC teams are:

  • Making available to community members high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables for purchase at 40 percent of the market price.
  • Working with corner stores in low-income areas where grocery stores don’t exist to provide fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Improving infrastructure by building new or enhancing existing walking/biking trails and sidewalks or influencing master plans for cities.
  • Influencing schools and worksites to change their food contracts and vending and meeting policies.

Pioneering Healthier Communities is funded mostly through an annual appropriation of $3.1 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pioneering Healthy Communities and the Striar YMCA Stoughton

  • Recruiting leaders in the Stoughton Community and southeastern Massachusetts
  • Submitting request for funding in the summer of 2010
  • Gathering data on Health Issues in Stoughton

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