Many Rye residents who come to the YMCA to exercise or just to drop off their children are unaware of the major role the organization plays in promoting healthy lifestyles in the Sound Shore community.
By Natalie Amstutz
Many Rye residents who come to the YMCA to exercise or just to drop off their children are unaware of the major role the organization plays in promoting healthy lifestyles in the Sound Shore community. As an intern at the Rye YMCA, I work with Y employees in the Fitness Department to improve our community’s access to healthy living programs. These include the Y Diabetes Prevention and LIVESTRONG programs, both coordinated by Tanya Stack, as well as the new EnhanceFitness program for older adults. These programs work to educate the community about the role of nutrition and exercise in preventing major diseases and keeping people healthy as they age. On a daily basis, I make phone calls, check files, and carry out the small jobs that help these programs run smoothly.
One example of how the Y carries out this work is the Access to Care Community Health Fair, which was coordinated by the Y and the Healthier Mamaroneck Committee. The fair, held June 14 at the Mamaroneck Avenue School, featured free health screenings, insurance information, and healthy activities for the whole family. For the event, I communicated with several of the featured sponsors — Shoprite and Greenwich and White Plains hospitals — about their donations and information booths. I also helped to organize the free screening services offered by nonprofit groups such as Open Door Family Medical Center, Planned Parenthood, and the Hispanic Resource Center.
Laura Tiedge, Senior Director of Healthy Living at the Rye Y, chairs Healthier Mamaroneck, and works with the committee to “make healthy living easier for everyone in the community.” As she explains, the fair was organized as a “response to needs of the low-income community,” which center around access to preventative medical care. Too often, those who are uninsured or underinsured forgo medical attention, especially preventative care, and only see a doctor if there is an emergency. The fair is an opportunity for this population to receive screening services at no cost.
Like the health fair, most programs that the YMCA coordinates are free and open to members and non-members alike. Some (including LIVESTRONG) also give participants temporary membership for part or all of the duration of the program. Perhaps the most important aspect of these programs is the social network and support that participants gain from meeting others with similar health conditions.
In a country where obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle-related chronic diseases are on the rise, prevention through exercise and diet change is increasingly vital. Not only do healthy lifestyle changes save lives, but perhaps more importantly, they improve the daily quality of life. By working with these programs, I am rewarded every day by making people’s lives better.