U.S. Surgeon General Applauds YMCA for Joining the Healthy Chicago Initiative
December 07, 2011
YMCA is the First Healthy Chicago Partner; Adds Nutrition and Smoking Prevention to Mix of Healthy Programs
CHICAGO, IL – United States Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair visited the McCormick Tribune YMCA to acknowledge the importance of public-private partnerships in promoting healthy lifestyles, and to recognize the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago for taking a lead role in making Chicago a healthier city.
Today’s announcement marked the first formal public-private partnership to advance Healthy Chicago – the City initiative that lays out more than 120 strategies in 12 priority areas, with the vision of making Chicago the healthiest city in the nation. The Y of Metro Chicago has committed to making changes in their policies across all their facilities to promote a variety of the Healthy Chicago priorities over the next five years.
“Strong public health is critical to the quality of life of residents across Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. "Today we are taking a critical step towards making Chicago a healthier place – with healthy neighborhoods, people and homes.”
In his remarks Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, commended the YMCA for its leadership in promoting the health of Chicagoans. “We applaud the YMCA for making this commitment to the city and the people they serve,” said Dr. Choucair. “These types of partnerships are exactly what will bring Healthy Chicago to life throughout the city, and we look forward to other organizations following the Y’s lead.”
Demonstrating their formal commitment to Healthy Chicago, the Y of Metro Chicago announced new policies currently being rolled out to kick off this partnership:
- To address the Healthy Chicago priority area of eliminating tobacco use, the Y has partnered with the Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project to announce an expansion of its existing smoke-free facility policy. The policy has been broadened to include resident rooms at the Austin, Irving Park, Lake View and Lawson House YMCAs. The policy was implemented earlier this fall and these four facilities will be 100 percent smoke free by October 2012. The Y will offer smoking cessation classes and promote other free resources to help residents with compliance. The Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project is a partnership between the CDPH and Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago focused on a comprehensive approach to decrease youth and adult smoking rates and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.
- To address Healthy Chicago priority areas of obesity prevention and adolescent health, the Y has implemented nutrition and physical activity policies in after-school programs as part of the Y’s partnership with Healthy Places, a citywide obesity prevention initiative that strives to create healthier environments where Chicagoans live, work and play. The new Y of Metro Chicago policies require at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity in all Y after-school programs, in addition to providing only healthy meals and snacks. Meals and snacks will limit calories, fat, sugar, and sodium and will aim to include a mix of healthy food groups (fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and protein). Healthy Places is a partnership with the CDPH and the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) which focuses on policy, systems and environmental change to support healthy eating and physical activity throughout the city. Both policies are part of the noteworthy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative.
These initiatives will impact approximately 146,000 Y of Metro Chicago members of all ages, incomes, backgrounds and abilities who come to the Y to learn, grow and thrive. More than 55,000 of those are youth members.
“The Y has been about a ‘Healthy Chicago’ throughout our history, teaching lifelong healthy habits through fitness, sports and programs, and changing lives throughout Chicagoland,” said Dick Malone, president and CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. “We are proud to partner with the City’s Healthy Chicago initiative.”
To find out more about Healthy Chicago visit www.cityofchicago.org/health.