YMCA Leaders Ask Congress to Help Build Strong Kids, Strong Families, Strong Communities

WASHINGTON, March 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — More than 250 YMCA leaders from across the country are in Washington, D.C., to ask their representatives in Congress to help build strong kids, strong families and strong communities by increasing funding and supporting legislation that reduces the nation’s chronic disease rates and protects child care and afterschool programs. The congressional visits on Thursday are part of National Advocacy Days — a three-day annual legislative conference sponsored by YMCA of the USA, the national resource office for this country’s 2,663 YMCAs.

As part of National Advocacy Days, these advocates — YMCA staff, community volunteers and youth leaders — are highlighting the vital role of YMCAs in communities nationwide and asking Members of Congress to fund programs and enact legislation that will help communities make it easier for residents to be more physically active and eat healthier and ensure that American families have access to quality child care programs.

A special focus will be on securing funding for Healthier Communities initiatives at the Centers for Disease Control, including an increase in funds for the YMCA’s Pioneering Healthier Communities — a community leadership strategy that works to change public policies that promote healthier lifestyles.

“YMCAs’ deep roots in communities across the country, as well as our history of building health of spirit, mind and body for all Americans, put us in a unique position to help address the nation’s rising chronic disease rates,” said President and CEO of YMCA of the USA Neil Nicoll. “We are taking steps within our own walls to help those who pursue health and well-being, but we are also taking leadership roles in communities to change policies that help make the healthy choice the easy choice for their residents.”

In addition to advocating for increased CDC funding for healthy communities, YMCA leaders are asking Congress to support the following:

  — Adequately fund other programs that support healthy living, including
Carol M. White PEP Grants, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer
Food Program and Afterschool Supper Program and co-sponsor the
Promoting Lifelong Active Communities Every Day (PLAY Every Day) Act
and the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids Act.
— Protect funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers program and
increase funding for Head Start and Child Care Development Block Grant
— Support tax incentives to encourage charitable giving and increase
oversight and transparency of nonprofit sector.

This year the YMCA of the USA is recognizing two members of the U.S. Senate and two members of the U.S. House of Representatives with the YMCA Congressional Champion award for their part in helping to build strong kids, strong families and strong communities. This year’s recipients are Senators Amy Kobuchar (D-MN) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and U.S. Representatives David Obey (D-WI) and Joe Barton (R-TX). U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) will receive the YMCA Policy Innovator Award.

“Throughout our long history, the YMCA has addressed some of the most pressing social issues in our nation. Whether it’s providing quality child care, camping and other youth programs or helping individuals of all ages meet health and well-being goals, the YMCA mission drives us to meet the needs of the communities we serve,” said Nicoll. “Engaging in advocacy to support public policies that help us meet those needs is part and parcel of the work we do everyday.”

The YMCA: A Long-Standing Commitment to Health of Spirit, Mind and Body

YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for the nation’s 2,663 YMCAs, which serve nearly 20.2 million people each year, including 9.4 million children under the age of 18. Through a variety of programs and services focused on the holistic development of children and youth, health and well-being for all and family strengthening, YMCAs unite men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. From urban areas to small towns, YMCAs have proudly served America’s communities for nearly 160 years by building healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Visit http://www.ymca.net/ to find your local YMCA.

Contact: Kelly Kennai


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Source: YMCA of the USA