The Rye YMCA, located in Rye, New York, is similar to most local Ys — it offers multiple community health programs, and strives to make its members and community happy and healthy. And Tanya Stack, the Rye YMCA’s senior director of membership, health and wellness, has helped the organization establish a special and unique connection with participants of its community health programs.
Since 2011, the Rye YMCA has been offering LIVESTRONG to members and non-members through a 12-week program of group-based physical activity, meeting twice a week, to adult cancer survivors. “The participants enrolled in the program love the fact they actually have access to the Y for the 12 weeks they are enrolled in the program,” said Stack.
This perk also helps bring in new members because it is often referred by a local hospital or cancer treatment center. “I think what people really find different and unique about the program is the ability to get outside the clinical setting and come to the Y, where they are welcomed and truly engaged in their physical activity,” said Stack. “They look forward to working with other survivors who have experienced a similar diagnosis.”
The Rye YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention program was also launched in 2011, along with LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. This program is designed for adults at risk of developing diabetes and is also often referred by a local health care provider. Over the course of a year, the goal is to lose seven percent of their bodyweight and increase their physical activity to 150 minutes a week.
“We’ve had participants lose up to 40 pounds,” said Stack. “They really have the support from their lifestyle coach and other participants in the program to make those lifestyle changes. And instead of just making a change, they really get it to be a habit they are able to sustain.”
EnhanceFitness is another group physical activity program offered at the Rye YMCA. This group targets active older adults who have been diagnosed with arthritis, or any kind of joint or mobility issue.
“The EnhanceFitness program really helps with keeping participants regular about their physical activity,” said Stack. “Those participants become really committed and connected to other participants, their instructor and who they see at the Y.”
The fourth community health program at the Rye YMCA is the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring program. “This is probably the most unique program from a delivery aspect,” said Stack. “It’s a four-month program where they self-monitor and then meet with a healthy heart ambassador who helps the person make sure they are measuring accurately when they go home, by modeling skills when they come in for their meeting.”
According to Stack, these modeled skills include keeping their feet flat on the floor, sitting upright in their chair and keeping their knees bent.
Overall, Stack emphasized the importance of relationships in community health programs. “It’s really about building a relationship with participants,” she said. “In order to get greater community engagement, it’s also about building relationships with local health care providers.”
As a result of building relationships with participants, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, in particular, has produced the greatest outcomes, according to Stack. “Participants are always talking about how much it changed their life or how they don’t know how they would have gotten active without it,” she said.