For Healthy Living

Last week, I wrote a blog about the commitment of the YMCA to strengthening the community. We do this through Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility. Remember, our goal is to make our community a place that people want to live. If we reduce negative influences by providing helpful and wholesome programming and support, we, as a community, win.

We discussed the importance of Youth Development in our work at the Y. Today, let’s talk about the second leg of the stool, Healthy Living.

When we mention Healthy Living to people, the first thought they jump to is a treadmill or swimming pool. As we said before, the Y is so much more than that!

Healthy living is about meeting people where they are at, helping them achieve their goals, and removing barriers for them to be successful. This is about community health, starting with each individual and improving overall health. An interesting site to look at regarding community health is This site is led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation looking at health data and trends by state and by county. If you were to look at the site, Cass County is rated 8th out of 49 counties in North Dakota and Clay County is ranked 67th out of 87 counties in Minnesota. Three areas that jumped out at me when I took a quick look this morning is that we share similar issues around physical inactivity, adult obesity, and children in poverty. All of these are focus areas that the YMCA can and does address.

Here are a few examples:

1. Individual Coaching – Take a walk into our wellness spaces and you see this happening all the time. Whether there is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, or one of our other staff providing coaching or support, all of this leads to a healthier lifestyle. Think about how many treadmills are in a basement right now being used to hang laundry on. We need to be in community with each other, even if it’s a simple nod and a smile to the guy that you can’t remember his name who always works out on the machine next to you….

2. LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA – A program that is near and dear to my heart. Talk about helping people living a healthier lifestyle! This program is set up to support cancer survivors in their quest to return to the normalcy of their lives. After treatment is done, and with it comes the cliff of vanishing medical support, the YMCA steps in and provides survivors with a free membership, a chance to bond with other survivors, and a program to help them regain their health. I have seen this program in action for many years and the positive stories that we hear can choke you up. Healthy Living at its finest! Click here to learn more about LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA.

3. Children in Poverty – The YMCA even works on this, in a healthy living sort of way, which most of our community may or may not know about. Each day we help feed children in need. Through several grants and partnerships, we serve meals to children, especially each summer, who otherwise would go hungry. If you are hungry, there is no way you can live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, we probably see other negative behaviors arise because of this issue. At the Y, we make sure that food is available, tummies are full, and that health is supported.

And you thought it was just about treadmills!

See you at the Y!

Steve Smith, President