Local PHC team approved for grant dollars by YMCA

Published 9:09 am Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Albert Lea’s Pioneering Healthier Communities team was recently approved by the YMCA of the USA to receive their grant dollars. The team will receive $55,000 initially and $5,000 in 2011.

To be approved for the grant dollars, the local team, a group of local community leaders led by Dennis Dieser and Ann Austin, developed a plan to improve the health and well-being of Albert Lea. Their plan focuses on mobilization and wellness in the areas of education, transportation and neighborhoods.

The team’s mission is to create permanent systematic environmental and policy changes that lead to a healthier community while creating opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating by positively encompassing an individual’s community, social network, habitat and purpose.

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PHC works in conjunction with the Statewide Health Improvement Program and Vitality Project on the community gardens, area schools’ healthy snack cart programs, increasing opportunities for extracurricular physical activities, encouraging other modes of transportation such as biking and walking, and filling in gaps where other programs are unable to provide resources or funding, such as purchasing refrigerators for schools to participate in the healthy snack programs.

“We applaud the intentional involvement and information sharing among other initiatives, partner organizations and community members,” said Katherine Hohman, Activate America/Healthier Communities Initiatives project manager, YMCA of the USA. “This will go a long way to build the momentum and sustainability for their work.”

PHC, an initiative focusing on collaborative engagement with community leaders, how environments influence health and well-being, and the role public policy plays in sustaining change, is one of the YMCA of the USA’s Healthier Communities initiatives and part of Activate America — the organization’s response to the nation’s health crisis.