Westfield Area Y preschoolers, kindergartners and teachers celebrate Healthy U with a walk around Mindowaskin Park on October 11th. “It puts a smile to my face when I hear a child say, “WOW, I feel so much stronger,” as a result of this initiative. I am happy to be a part of Healthy U and getting parents and children on board to engage in healthy habits. It is a win-win for everyone.” says Eileen Rooney, Westfield Area Y Preschool Director. Credits: Christine Alger
Westfield Area Y Participates in the Expanded "Healthy U" Initiative Statewide in Effort to Combat Obesity
Friday, October 12, 2012 • 9:29pm
The Westfield Area Y is pleased to announce that the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance received an expansion grant of $2.25 million for Healthy U, a collaborative initiative to combat the obesity epidemic among New Jersey children. Over the next three and a half years, Healthy U will expand to impact approximately 40,000 children statewide. In addition to the after-school setting, the program will now be offered in two new settings, preschool and school-based for the first time in the history of the program.
As a result of this $2.25 million expansion grant for Healthy U, the Westfield Area Y along with other Y’s throughout the state will benefit from the grant and are now able to expand their program to also include preschools. In support of the “Healthy U” initiative, Westfield Area Y preschool programs hosted kickoffs on October 11th. The children participated in special healthy activities and wore their “Healthy U” tee shirts in support of this healthy initiative. The Y’s School Age Child Care Kickoffs will be held October 18th.
“Since its inception in 2008, the Healthy U program has equipped thousands of New Jersey children and their families with nutritional education and increased physical activity to help them lead a healthy life,” said Robert A. Marino, Chairman and CEO of Horizon BCBSNJ and Chairman of the Board of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. “Today, the Foundation joins with the YMCA Alliance in renewing and building upon our commitment to combat obesity.”
Healthy U uses the evidence-based CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) curriculum to help children adopt behavior changes that promote healthy eating and physical activity. This award-winning curriculum was created in 1992 by national education and child health experts at the University of Texas. In its first phase, Healthy U has been implemented in all 41 member Ys across New Jersey, and more than 20,000 children ages 5 to 13 have participated in the program at over 400 afterschool sites. The four-year evaluation results showed that the program is effective and working, children are adding more fruits and vegetables to their diets, are cutting back on TV and computer time and are being physically active more each day.
“With this additional investment from the Foundation, the Healthy U program will be expanded to more than 5,000 pre-school children, integrated into 50 public schools that will reach 15,000 children at the elementary level, and maintained as an afterschool program at 400 Y sites for 20,000 children,” Marino said.
“Healthy U is an innovative program that is closely in tune with the YMCA’s mission to help children lead healthy lives,” said William Lovett, Executive Director of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance. “Children have enjoyed it, and we’ve seen how the program’s emphasis on parental involvement really accelerates progress toward positive behavior changes. The Y is excited about building out this program and implementing age-specific programming for the younger children new to Healthy U. We applaud The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey for its generous support and its commitment to a generation of healthier children.”
“New Jersey’s children face an obesity epidemic and programs like Healthy U are making marked improvements in their health,” said Dr. Arturo Brito, Deputy Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Health. “I congratulate The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance for expanding Healthy U so that more children may participate.”
Some facts about childhood obesity based on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Prevent Childhood Obesity:
· More than 23 million children and teenagers in the U.S. are obese or overweight, a statistic that health experts consider an epidemic.
· Obesity increases the lifelong risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, stroke, certain kinds of cancer, and many other debilitating diseases.
· Researchers estimate that one out of every three males and two out of every five females born in the United States in the year 2000 will be diagnosed with diabetes.
· More than 100,000 children ages 5 to 14 have asthma each year because of overweight and obesity.
· If current adolescent obesity rates continue, researchers predict that by 2035 there will be more than 100,000 additional cases of heart disease linked to obesity.
· Between 1999 and 2005, the number of children hospitalized with a diagnosis of obesity nearly doubled; treatment costs rose from $125.9 million to $237.6 million between 2001 and 2005.
The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Visit www.westfieldynj.org to learn more about Westfield Area Y programs. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.