West Cook YMCA

February 2015 CEO Message

Published 02.02.15


"Eat Healthy But Less; Move More," is Rally Cry of New West Cook YMCA’s Year-Long Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Programclientuploads/_photos/CEOmessage.jpg

"Eat Healthy But Less; Move More."  Makes sense?

Yes, if you’re on the march to prevent Type 2 diabetes, a disease that one in three Americans, some 86 million persons, are in danger of developing.

The new rally cry of eating less and moving more is the central theme of a major new initiative that the West Cook YMCA is undertaking—a year-long Diabetes Prevention program focused on preventing Type 2 diabetes. This silent killer can wreck havoc with one’s health. The sad fact is that only one in ten persons knows that they are prediabetic.

As one of 174 YMCAs across the U.S. to participate in the new national initiative to prevent Type 2 diabetes, the West Cook Y’s program is funded initially by a $40,000 grant from the Arthur Foundation, a Riverside, Illinois a private independent philanthropic organization and a $ 13,000 grant from the YMCA of the USA.

This new initiative will help adults at the risk for Type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of developing the disease.

The new program will also help participants improve their overall health and well being.

Research by the National Institutes of Health has demonstrated that a program like the YMCA’s new Diabetes Prevention initiative can reduce the number of new cases of Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent and as high as 71 percent in adults over the age of 60.

Because many individuals at risk for development of Type 2 diabetes have no obvious symptoms of the disease, we will rely on a network of health care providers, physicians, clinics, hospitals and local medical centers and other health care providers to refer participants to this new program.

We’re launching our first phase immediately by engaging program administrators, coordinators and coaches in special training. Then, in July of this year, the first group of adults will begin a year-long program to address the prevention of Type 2 diabetes, concluding at the end of June, 2016. For information on how to join the program, please contact Kyle Hartje at khartje@westcookymca.org or 708-434-0218.

During the first 16 weeks, YMCA lifestyle coaches trained in a Centers for Disease Control -approved curriculum, will meet with small groups of participants in weekly sessions. The goal will be to reduce participants’ individual weight by 7 percent and to help them build up to 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, like brisk walking.

Following the initial intensive 16-week period, participants will meet in eight monthly sessions with their lifestyle coaches to report and measure progress.

Sessions will be classroom-style and conducted at the West Cook YMCA, at employee’s workplaces and other partner sites throughout the ten west suburban communities the West Cook YMCA serves. Employers interested in being a site for the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program may contact Kyle Hartje at khartje@westcookymca.org or 708-434-0218.

Adults, 18 years and older who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or more and who are at risk for or who have been diagnosed with prediabetes, will be eligible to participate in the YMCA program.

The cost for each participant enrolled in the year-long program will be $429, with scholarships and subsidies available for qualified participants who have need.  

It is not necessary to be a YMCA member to participate in the Diabetes Prevention program. We’re committed to making this valuable, life changing program available to any adult who meets the criteria, regardless of their health insurance status or ability to pay.

As another example of our "Y without walls" approach to providing service, employers in the West Cook YMCA’s service area, which includes Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park and seven other nearby western suburbs, will be encouraged to enroll their employees in the new program on site at the workplace or in another partner’s location in the community.

Traditionally, YMCAs were places known for popular "swim 'n gym" programs for people of all ages —young children to seniors— to improve their personal fitness.

Today, while many of the 100 different weekly programs we offer are focused on swimming, exercise and fitness, this YMCA is committed to promoting lifelong wellness for all—individuals, families, workplace organizations and the communities we serve—through initiatives like the Diabetes Prevention Program. 

This new program is a natural outgrowth of a related project that the West Cook YMCA brought to one of our communities-- a grant funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that designated the Village of Oak Park as a "Pioneering Healthy Community."

For the past four years, the West Cook Y has served as a catalyst to bring together a group of senior representatives of Oak Park’s government, non-profit and private sectors to drive a series of meaningful best practices policy, systems and environmental changes throughout the Village to help to reduce childhood obesity.

Under the banner of "Wild About Wellness," among the PHC group’s major accomplishments have been to:

  • Provide input to the Village of Oak Park’s Comprehensive Plan development process to incorporate strategies, policies and actions designed to increase healthy eating and physical activity in the community;
  • Secure agreement  of Village of Oak Park officials to incorporate into the community’s Streets Policy a requirement to make streets conducive to biking and walking;
  • Collaborate  with the Active Transportation Alliance, Greenline Wheels and Oak Park Elementary District 97 to create a pilot bike safety training program for 3rd through 5th grade students;
  • Recommend enhanced nutrition standards for Oak Park’s day care centers through a research study between the Village of Oak Park Department of Public Health, the Collaboration for Early Childhood and the University of Illinois at Chicago. 
  • Trained Elementary District 97 physical education teachers and instructors on new PE standards and techniques for engaging all kids in physical activities during PE classes and other activities during the school day.

The beat goes on.

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The West Cook YMCA, a social impact organization with a rich 111-year history of service our communities, is committed to using all of its resources, such as programs and projects as these, to fulfill its promise to encourage healthy living by persons of all ages.


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