At the Y, we work with local leaders to address societal needs and give more community members, regardless of age or background, the chance to live healthy, safe and secure lives.
Finding healthy food options and feeling safe while outdoors can be a struggle for residents who live and work in underserved communities. Through the Healthier Communities Initiatives, hundreds of Ys take on these challenges by collaborating with schools, hospitals and other organizations to create change and improve opportunities for healthy living.
The YMCA of the East Bay’s West Contra Costa branch in Richmond , has been collaborating with local leaders and groups for decades to bring healthy lifestyle options to area residents. In 2013, it was one of 16 Ys nationwide selected to participate in the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program, an initiative funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote health and wellbeing in African-American and Hispanic/Latino communities.
“ It's important to us to partner with and be a part of our community. We don't want our Y to be confined by its walls.” - Don Lau, Executive Vice President West Contra Costa YMCA
Through the program, the Y is building on its longtime efforts to meet the mental health needs of young people in Richmond. High rates of neighborhood violence and unstable home environments can make it difficult for youth to feel safe while commuting for school and to concentrate once they arrive. By expanding partnerships with schools, the city and other organizations, the Y is improving students’ emotional wellbeing and increasing their sense of security by supporting student counseling services and safe routes to schools. REACH is also enabling the Y to focus on reducing obesity rates and decreasing tobacco use among area residents.
“Without the efforts we are putting forth, folks would not feel as safe, they would not be as engaged with their neighbors and they would not have the opportunity to take part in physical activities going on in the community,” said Don Lau, Executive Vice President, West Contra Costa YMCA.