YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), the national resource office for the nation’s 2700 YMCAs, selected the YMCA of Western North Carolina to participate in its Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) initiative. The goal of REACH is to improve health and eliminate disparities related to chronic diseases in African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino communities.
In October, 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) REACH initiative awarded Y-USA a cooperative agreement of up to $4 million per year for up to five years to improve our nation’s health and well-being, with a specific focus on addressing gaps between racial and ethnic groups across the country. Y-USA is re-awarding this grant, selecting up to 16 new communities per year to participate in the REACH initiative in their communities. The Ys receiving funding are serving communities that reflect populations of under 500,000 and have an established relationship with a geographic area that is at least 50 percent African American/Black or Hispanic/Latino or a combination of the both racial/ethnic groups. Being selected for the REACH program will allow the YMCA of Western North Carolina to address barriers to healthy living in its community.
“As a leading nonprofit committed to healthy living, the Y believes that everyone in our community deserves to live life to its fullest regardless of where they live or the color of their skin,“ said Paul Vest, CEO. “The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health funding helps ensure our programs and initiatives are helping those individuals who face the greatest barriers to healthy living.“
Many preventable risk factors—tobacco use, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity—are more common in communities of color, often resulting in higher prevalence of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and asthma, among others. Chronic disease contributes to roughly 75 percent of the $2.5 trillion spent annually on health care in the United States.
To achieve the REACH goals, communities implement targeted interventions that address the specific needs of African American/ Black and Hispanic/Latino communities. Strategies selected address critical issues to ensure all community members can achieve one or more of the following:
“Where you live should not affect your health,“ said Neil Nicoll, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA. “Yet, too many communities lack the resources for individuals to access opportunities for physical activity and healthy foods and improve their health and well-being. The Y’s longstanding partnership with CDC has allowed us to strengthen communities through programs and initiatives that create environments where all people have the opportunity to make a healthy choice. These funds enable us to continue this work and expand it to communities that need it most.“
The YMCA of Western North Carolina is one of 16 Ys selected to receive funds through REACH. Several other national organizations will work with Y-USA to help achieve the goals of the cooperative agreement. Partners include the American Psychological Association, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Council of La Raza and California State University at Long Beach Center for Latino Community Health. All of the organizations funded through the REACH program bring the resources, dedication, and experience as leaders in this effort to create health equity across the country.
To learn more about the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program, including previous funded programs, visit www.cdc.gov/reach.