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Mark Wetzel
YMCA of the Suncoast
Communications Director
(727) 451-3221

News Release

YMCA of the Suncoast Announces Community Coalition to Fight Rising Rates of Obesity and Chronic Diseases

(September 20, 2005) Clearwater, FL – As a part of the national initiative “Activate America: Pioneering Healthier Communities,” the YMCA of the Suncoast will announce it is partnering with Pinellas County, the City of Clearwater, and other organizations to promote healthy living among area residents at a news conference on Tuesday, September 27, 2005, at 5 p.m. at the Clearwater Branch YMCA (1005 South Highland Avenue, Clearwater, FL 33756). In addition, a representative from the JCPenney Company will present the YMCA of the Suncoast with a $25,000 check to help research and develop programs related to Activate America. This donation is part of a $2.5 million national grant from the JCPenney Afterschool Fund, which helps power kids to their full potential.

 Activate America is a community-based movement designed to mobilize local leaders to respond to the public health challenge of rising rates of chronic disease, including obesity. By serving as a connector to these different corporate, government and not-for-profit groups, the YMCA of the Suncoast is bringing together a cohesive response to some of the serious health risks facing many in our nearby population. 

In order to address the complex growing epidemic of obesity and chronic disease, and to reduce barriers and increase support for healthy living, a 10-person community team comprised of local officials and YMCA of the Suncoast staff members has been established with the goal of improving the physical, social, emotional and spiritual health of local residents. The community team will attend a national conference in Washington, D.C., (November 30 - December 2) to learn the best strategies for implementing Activate America into the local community and driving meaningful change.

Joining the YMCA of the Suncoast in this effort is:
All Children’s Hospital Morton Plant Mease Health Care
City of Clearwater, Office of the Mayor Pinellas County Government, Commissioner
Crum Services, Inc. Pinellas County Health Department
KidShapers Program Pinellas County Parks & Recreation Department

 “By uniting forces with all sectors of the community, we will lead a charge to break the cycle of inactivity, poor nutrition and other culprits that exact a severe toll on our society,” said G. Scott Goyer, President and CEO, YMCA of the Suncoast. “We look forward to helping local citizens develop a better understanding of healthy living while reducing the impact chronic diseases have on our economy, productivity, health-care and collective self-esteem,” Goyer said.

As one of only 34 YMCAs chosen by YMCA of the USA, the YMCA of the Suncoast has already begun to initiate Activate America. One program underway at the Clearwater Branch YMCA is “KidShapers,” a weight management and fitness program for families. Developed by and presented in partnership with All Children’s Hospital, “KidShapers” is designed to help children ages three and older adopt and maintain a healthy weight and body size, and to be more active and fit.

“Childhood overweight and obesity issues require both treatment and prevention measures,” says Gary Carnes, President & CEO of All Children’s Health System.  “Our KidShapers Program helps youngsters to become healthier today. It also encourages lifestyle changes that will help them to avoid the medical problems so common among overweight and obese adults.”

The 8-week program will encourage children to do their personal best and reach their own goals for weight loss, weight management and physical activity. As a part of the collaborative, the Clearwater Branch YMCA will provide memberships to “KidShapers” participants and their families free of charge during the program. Each week, YMCA staff will lead participants through a wide range of fun, low-impact fitness activities while supporting them on their way to a healthier lifestyle. In addition, members of the All Children’s staff will guide discussions on topics such as body image, motivation, restaurant etiquette, stress management and other psychosocial behaviors associated with proper nutrition.

About the YMCA of the Suncoast

The YMCA of the Suncoast, a charitable, non-profit organization, serves more than 78,000 members and program participants through its 10 branches located in Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties.


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