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Local Residents & Community Leaders Take White House Tour

Dec 01, 2014 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
The Hockomock Area YMCA’s Healthy Futures Initiative was selected to visit the White House Kitchen Gardens in recognition of its positive impact on local communities, through its Healthy Futures Initiative. The visit, part of “Let’s Move,” on Thursday, October 30th, included a private tour of the White House.

The goals of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative are aligned with, and supportive of, the Hockomock Area YMCA’s Healthy Futures Initiative, which focuses on community-based initiatives to reduce inactivity and poor nutrition in the fifteen communities served by the Y,  through programs, projects, and policies. Healthy Futures incorporates prevention and intervention-based strategies that support families, especially those most at risk because of food insecurities.

The Hockomock Area YMCA’s Healthy Futures Initiative is active in 15 communities, serving more than 10,000 children annually, totaling over 184,382 hours of physical activity and nutrition education.

The 30 attendees included local volunteers, community leaders, families, and Hockomock Area YMCA staff.  This special White House visit allowed the Y’s Healthy Futures volunteers and participants an opportunity to learn more about the importance of growing fresh food and making healthy nutrition and dietary decisions.

In addition to Hockomock Area YMCA staff, attendees connected to the Y’s Healthy Futures Initiative came from all over the Y’s coverage area, including Jeanne Sheridan of Bellingham Public Schools Food Services.

“I was so proud to be invited on the recent trip to the White House. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the YMCA and the Bellingham schools. This experience has allowed me to form new partnerships which will help us meet the needs of our children,” she exclaimed. “Bellingham Schools have had a very productive partnership with the Hockomock YMCA over the past 5 years. Their support, through the Stop and Shop mini grants, have helped fund gardens at each of our schools and introduced a before-school physical activity component. The Y staff teach Nutrition Detectives at each elementary school, which has allowed us to be recognized as a “Healthier School,” a USDA program, that only 4% of all schools in the country achieve.”

Located in the White House South Lawn, the Kitchen Garden is home to different fruits, vegetables, and herbs each growing season. The First Lady planted the White House Kitchen Garden in 2009 to initiate a national conversation around the health and well-being of our nation and to serve as an inspiration for schools and community groups across the country to plant gardens of their own.

The Let’s Move! program was launched by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010 and is a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years.

The Hockomock Area YMCA, working with community partners, is creating innovative initiatives to ensure that everyone has access to healthful food and a healthy lifestyle to combat the increase in chronic disease and healthcare costs related to obesity. The Y’s partnerships with school superintendents, principals, teachers, food service directors, and parent groups have been the centerpiece of Healthy Futures’ sustained impact. Keeping kids moving and well-nourished are core goals of the Y’s Healthy Futures program.

For more information, contact Caitlin Gibbs, Director of Health Innovation at the Hockomock Area YMCA, 508-772-1351, or [email protected].
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