YMCA programs tackle childhood obesity

Every day we are confronted with news that is bad: Obesity, diabetes, death by drowning – the second leading cause of death in children under 12, the opioid epidemic.

Here is news that is good: The YMCA of Greater Nashua’s programs are evidence-based and proven to tackle these seemingly insurmountable societal issues.

? The obesity epidemic is growing, especially in our youth. Our Prescribe the Y program provides support and education that heads off childhood obesity.

? The rate of diabetes is exploding. We offer diabetes prevention programs that help you learn your risk and then take action.

? Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children under 12, particularly children from low-income families. The Y teaches swim lessons, offers scholarships for those lessons, and partners with school systems to help all kids be proficient swimmers.

? Teens are barraged with the opportunity to take drugs. We help teens stay away from opioids through our Y-Achievers and Leaders Club. And we keep kids engaged over the summer through Camp Sargent, our summer day camp, and Camp Spaulding, our overnight camp.

? Early childhood learning is proven to be foundational to later school and workforce achievements. The Y offers quality early childhood education to hundreds of very young children, giving their parents the peace of mind to work.

? National studies show that children in third grade who are reading below grade level are more susceptible to dropping out in high school, likely leading to a lower wage job for the rest of their life, a higher propensity for substance abuse, incarceration, and lower self-esteem. The Y is helping to combat illiteracy with our 6-week Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program based in the Ledge Street School.

All of this and we offer fitness programs for thousands in the Greater Nashua community, too. Last year, 32,500 people got active with the YMCA of Greater Nashua.

Everything we do revolves around:

? Youth Development: Nurturing the potential of every child

? Healthy Living: Improvingwell-beingand quality oflifefor allages

? Social Responsibility: Partnering with 40 area social service agencies to leverage impact

Serving all regardless of their ability to pay is a YMCA core value. Last year the YMCA of Greater Nashua provided $748,829 in scholarships for more than 3,500 children and families.

The YMCA of Greater Nashua is now at a crossroads. We do not have the space to scale up our programming. We could help even more people prevent diabetes, help even more youth stop the obesity trend, help even more very young children gain foundational learning, help even more adults be fit, if we had more space.

To grow our programs that address these societal issues, the Y must improve and expand its buildings.

We could grow our space over the next decade through annual capital projects, but where would that leave those who could be served by our programming? Ten years is too long to wait.

Over the past two years, the YMCA of Greater Nashua has raised $3.6 million from generous donors throughout the region. Thanks to these funds, we will make an unprecedented investment in Y facilities to grow and expand Y programs.

? We will build a 6,000 square-foot addition to the Nashua Y that will double the cardio area, add a Program Studio to support wellness programs and movement-based programs for children, and create a new multi-purpose room that will house our healthy living initiatives. Nutrition classes, chronic disease prevention programs, and education seminars will now have a home. The room will be available for programming by nonprofits in the community without space of their own.

? We will overhaul the pool and locker rooms at the Merrimack Y, the premier provider of aquatics programs, senior activities, and youth development programs in the region. This includes state-of-the-art circulation and filtrations systems so the pool will use 2/3 less chlorine and the addition of a fun play element for kids, creating great water play time for children in our youth development programs and member families.

? We will build new cabins and renovate existing ones at Camp Sargent and Camp Spaulding, ensuring more children achieve the camp experience each summer. Summer camps provide pivotal growth experiences for children, improving social skills, opportunities for leadership development, and conquering challenges. Our goal is campers have fun, make friends, and continue learning throughout the summer. The YMCA of Greater Nashua offers the traditional camp experience for 2,500 youth a summer from all backgrounds in two rural locations: Camp Sargent on Lake Naticook in Merrimack and Camp Spaulding on the Contoocook River in Concord.

? We have already added six new early education classrooms and one new classroom for After School Students to the Merrimack Y, increasing the number of children we serve by 109. The classrooms were full the day they opened and there is a waiting list.

Now I hope you will join us. When the Y’s programs have grown, we all benefit – child care; wellness after cancer treatment; teen leadership; youth development; nutrition; diabetes prevention and management; adult fitness, it’s all at the Y.

Please join us. Contribute to the Y’s growth and expansion. To contribute, please call 598-1533 or go to www.nmymca.org.

Mike LaChance, Chief Executive Officer, YMCA of Greater Nashua

John Callahan, Co-chair, YMCA Capital Campaign

Earl Prolman, Co-chair, YMCA Capital Campaign