Barbara B. Jordan YMCA Helping Morgan County Residents Build Healthier Lives
Each of us builds our energy level through the right combination of exercise, nutrition and rest. If any of these areas are lacking, we suffer. Nutrition fuels our body so we can exercise, but without adequate sleep, we may not have the energy to get the exercise we need. The Y puts Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. This is done by emphasizing the Y pillars of Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility.
Thirty-four percent of Morgan County residents are considered obese, higher than the state average of 31% and higher than surrounding counties such as Monroe (21%), Hendricks (30%), Marion (32%) and Brown (31%), according to the 2017 Morgan County Community Report Card, prepared by the Kendrick Foundation.
Even worse, 30% of adults 20 years of age and older reported no type of physical activity compared to the state’s range of 19-38% reported by other counties. Combine obesity with inactivity and the results are devastating – including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and death.
For children, their families and individuals living in generational poverty, unhealthy eating habits and the inability to pay for either school athletics or recreational and fitness facilities are at increased risk for numerous physical and mental problems. This is one reason why the Barbara B. Jordan YMCA in Martinsville exists – to help people build healthier lives.
“We are the ‘Y’ for all of Morgan County. We’re here for everyone,” said YMCA Executive Director Dave Nash. “The increase in obesity has become a major health issue. The good news is we can change this. Physical activity and a healthy diet can go a long way towards reversing these troubling trends.”
Thanks to a generous grant from the Kendrick Foundation and a partnership with IU Health Morgan, the Y is helping children and adults learn healthy behaviors in nutrition and physical activity through the Morgan Adult Diet and Exercise (MADE) and Youth Fitness Outreach (YFO) classes.
MADE is an eight-week program where adults learn how to plan healthy menus, shop for nutritious foods, make delicious and healthy snacks, and incorporate some form of activity into their daily routines, whether it’s walking, cardio, yoga, strength training or stretching. Each class also includes information on how to read nutrition labels as well as food preparation. Learning about the different physical activities allows individuals to decide which one they’ll continue after the program has ended. Participants are rewarded with a Y Day-Pass for each class completed and upon graduation, they receive a three-month individual Y membership and referral to the Y’s personal trainer.
For children ages 8-16 at Morgan County schools, they can participate in YFO, a full day program filled with fun physical activities, nutrition education such as test-tasting healthier foods, and discussions about building self-esteem and positive body image. These one-day classes are held at various locations so students throughout the county can attend. IU Health Morgan sends a licensed physical therapist and registered dietician to teach this program. Parents or guardians attend the final hour of class to receive a summary of what the kids learned and are encouraged to continue the new, healthy behaviors at home.
Don Lipps, Healthy Living Program Director at the Y, reports more and more children having sedentary lives as they spend large amounts of time playing on their phones or other devices instead of being physically active. Research shows kids between the ages of 8 to 18 spend more than seven hours a day using electronic media.
“The YMCA is a great place for families to pursue different options of getting children involved in physical activities. We offer several different classes and sports for youth such as swim lessons, soccer, flag football, basketball, home school swim and gym,” said Lipps.
The Y also offers other fitness and wellness programs including volleyball, adult league basketball, cycling, and group exercise classes, both on land and water.
Additionally, the Y works to help at-risk children by offering before and after school programming, a summer learning loss program, as well as summer day camps.
Karen Dewitt is the Community Needs Coordinator at the Y. A collaboration with the United Way of Central Indiana, Karen works with individuals and families in Morgan County to get back on track. “My role is to provide financial and job coaching. This is another reason why we’re here – to help combat generational poverty in our county,” Dewitt said.
To help people start 2019 with goals for becoming healthier, the Y offers these five recommendations:
- Move More – 30 minutes a day for adults; 60 minutes daily for children.
- Swap a Soda – Replace one soda with water daily.
- Schedule Family Time – Play a board game or play outside; visit with other family.
- Volunteer Your Time – Giving back and supporting our neighbors benefits everyone.
- Put Extras to Good Use – Donate your extra clothes, food, toys, etc.
Now is the time to make the commitment to become a healthier you or family. For more information about the YMCA and to become a member, visit their website (bbjymaca.org) or call (765) 342-6688.