YMCA offers wellness tips during Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and as children and families start their new school-year routines, it’s a perfect time to reflect and refresh your family’s healthy habits. Many families, though, need support changing their habits together in order to help children who are overweight or obese reach and maintain a healthy weight. 

That’s why the Greater Scranton YMCA — a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health — wants to help families through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity affects about 14.7 million, or one in five U.S. children and adolescents. Obesity can increase risk for health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers. Here in Pennsylvania, 15.1 % of all youth ages 0-17 have obesity, according to https://stateofchildhoodobesity.org/states/pa/.

“Experts are more aware than ever that families need support to change their eating and physical activity habits,” said Trish Fisher, President & CEO, Greater Scranton YMCA. “At the Y, we’re happy to partner with families and offer support as they work to incorporate changes to help kids grow up at a healthy weight.”

The Y also encourages families to talk with their health care providers about their children’s health. “You cannot determine whether a child is at a healthy weight simply by looking at them,” explains Fisher. “Working with a health care provider ensures that families receive the proper guidance when it comes to health and their children.”

The Greater Scranton YMCA is helping families improve their health and help youth grow up at a healthy weight through youth sports programs and incorporating daily physical activity into early childhood education programs, like before and after school care, summer camp, daycare and preschool.

While outside support is key, developing healthy habits begins at home. The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity and into your daily family routine:

Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family choose a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together. Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals and allow children to pour their own water. Keep full water bottles available in the car and back packs.

Play Every Day/Go Outside: Children should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity. Join your children in games that get your hearts pumping and bodies moving.

Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.

Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home (i.e. turn off screens during meals, charge electronics/screens in the kitchen overnight, go for a walk after a meal, set a timer to remind you to power down the screen).

Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; unwind together in the evenings by reading a book or listening to soft music to ensure the body is preparing for sleep. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night and seven to eight hours for adults.
To learn more about the Greater Scranton YMCA’s youth sports and healthy living programs, please contact Brandon Whipple, Wellness Director, at (570) 828-3116 or bwhipple@greaterscrantonymca.org.

YMCA hosts Quest and Summer Scholars Programs

Students from low-income families often start school unprepared. Despite progressing at the same rates during the school year, gaps widen each summer and students fall further behind their peers. The gap culminates in low high school graduation and college attainment rates, limited job prospects and negative economic impact. This gap is referred to as the Achievement Gap, or Summer Slide.

Providing children with learning opportunities over the summer months is crucial to their educational success. Through the Greater Scranton YMCA’s summer learning loss prevention programs, QUEST and Summer Scholars, the Y makes a profound impact in combating the achievement gap. These programs allow the Y to provide children with the tools and resources they need to succeed at the start of their next school year.

“For years, the Greater Scranton YMCA has worked to combat the achievement gap and provide all children in our community with the tools and resources needed to continue developing academically during the summer,” said Trish Fisher, President & CEO, Greater Scranton YMCA. “Here at the Y, we understand the pivotal role summer learning programs play in the academic development of students and we are so proud to continue providing our community with these invaluable resources.”

QUEST is a learning program integrated into our summer day camp. The program serves all campers in kindergarten through eighth grades and is offered at no additional cost. QUEST is held four days per week. Week one includes pre-testing, weeks two through eight are program weeks and week nine includes post-testing. During each of the four days per week the program is held, children filter through different subjects and engage in hands-on activities.

Summer Scholars is a free research-based and research-proven five-week summer learning program with a goal to get elementary students on track to read at or above grade level by the start of their next school year. In some cases, participants will have the opportunity to exceed grade level expectations. This summer, the program is serving rising first and second grade students attending the Mid Valley and Dunmore School Districts. Breakfast and lunch are provided. Since the program began in 2016, more than 180 students have been served.

Summer Scholars includes 2.5 hours of literacy in the morning, followed by lunch and enrichment in the afternoon. Students also take trips to the Greater Scranton YMCA for use of the pools. The program is instructed by certified teachers, as well as Y staff.

QUEST and Summer Scholars are Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) approved EIO Programs. The programs are supported by the United Way of Lackawanna & Wayne Counties, Fidelity Deposit & Discount Bank, UGI Utilities, Peoples Security Bank & Trust Charitable Fund, Pride Mobility, the PPL Foundation and proceeds from the Annual Harry P. McGrath Memorial Golf Tournament & Dinner Celebration.

To learn more about summer learning loss prevention at the Greater Scranton YMCA, contact Trish at tfisher@greaterscrantonymca.org or (570) 828-3130.

Grant Money to Support Aquatics Staffing at YMCA

Shown at a check presentation are from left: Cathy Fitzpatrick, Grants & Scholarship Manager, Scranton Area Community Foundation; Trish Fisher, President & CEO, Greater Scranton YMCA; Ken Brewster, Aquatics Director, Greater Scranton YMCA, and Frank Caputo, Grants & Communications Coordinator, Scranton Area Community Foundation.

The Greater Scranton YMCA has been awarded a $14,000 Community Needs Grant from the Scranton Area Community Foundation. The grant will support aquatics staffing at the YMCA.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greater Scranton YMCA was able to fully staff both pools in its facility and offer 283 swim lessons per session. Currently, the YMCA is only able to offer 183 swim lessons per session, a reduction of more than 600 swim lessons annually. The biggest loss, though, has been to our community, as learning to swim is one of the most important life lessons a child can learn.

This grant award from the Scranton Area Community Foundation will allow the YMCA to increase lifeguard pay rates with the goal of attracting more staff, as well as retaining existing staff who need a pay increase. Adding more team members to the aquatics department will directly impact the YMCA’s capacity to provide needed services to our community, including offering an increased number of life-saving swim lessons annually, making more pool time available to members and guests, and ensuring the resources are available to implement more youth, adult and family programming.

“It’s because of the generosity and support of community partners like the Scranton Area Community Foundation that the Greater Scranton YMCA is able to serve so many members of our community,” said Trish Fisher, President & CEO, Greater Scranton YMCA. “We are confident this grant award will allow our YMCA to better serve our community through aquatics programming!”

For more information about aquatics programming at the Greater Scranton YMCA< contact Ken Brewster, Aquatics Director, at kbrewster@greaterscrantonymca.org or call (570) 828- 3112.