YMCA Canada applauds report by the federal advisor on Healthy Children & Youth



    TORONTO, March 27 /CNW/ - YMCA Canada, a national charity that supports
the healthy development of 713,000 children and youth across Canada, supports
the emphasis and direction of the newly released report by Dr. Kellie Leitch,
federal advisor on Healthy Children and Youth.
    "This report outlines a viable and needed national strategy to enhance
the health of children and youth and leverages the expertise and capacity of
children and youth serving organizations such as the YMCA," said Michael Weil,
President and CEO of YMCA Canada. "We value the extensive community
consultations with parents and experts nationwide that formed the basis for
many of the report's recommendations."
    The YMCA in Canada serves 511,500 Canadian children and 201,500 youth up
to age 16 in more than 250 communities. As one of the largest providers of
children's programs, YMCAs support their physical activity through child care,
after-school and weekend programs, sports leagues, recreation instruction
programs, day and summer residential camps, family memberships, youth groups
(that typically include a recreation/sport component), and leadership
programs.
    Dr. Leitch's report lists three fundamental child and health pillars
based on feedback from parents and experts across the country. The report's
entire recommendations stem from concerns related to injury prevention and
safety, obesity and healthy lifestyles, and mental health and chronic illness.
    The myriad of YMCA programs for young people, including YMCA after-school
programs, help lay the foundation for their future health habits and emotional
wellbeing. After-school initiatives were one of the recommendations in
Dr. Leitch's report. The YMCA has long been aware of the higher incidence of
risky behaviours by kids who are unsupervised during the time immediately
after school. YMCA programs provide children and youth with fun physical
activities, build self-esteem, leadership skills and stress the importance of
positive relationships and a strong support network. These essential factors
serve young people well throughout their lifetime.
    "This Report is extremely timely and will help influence the current
development of a national YMCA Healthy Children and Youth Strategy that
incorporates the YMCA's current children and youth programming, expertise,
community ties and vast knowledge-base to create more healthy and active
children," said Mr. Weil. "The goal of this national YMCA strategy is to
engage many more children, youth and families to embrace fun, healthy habits
that can become a lifelong practice."
    "The YMCA would be pleased to participate in future conversations with
the federal government about implementing the recommendations in this report
or to share our longstanding expertise in working with children and youth,"
added Mr. Weil. "We applaud this first step of investing in consultations as a
starting point for making health and wellness of our children and youth a
national priority."

    Today, there are 47 YMCAs and 8 YMCA-YWCA associations working in more
than 250 communities as resourceful champions of developing healthy children,
families, and communities in spirit, mind, and body. The YMCA is committed to
building strong kids, strong families and strong communities and collaborating
with others to achieve this goal. The YMCA in Canada serves 1.8 million
participants of which 511,500 are children and 201,500 are youth.





For further information:

For further information: Mary Stobbe, Manager, Communications, YMCA
Canada, T: (416) 967-9622, E: mary_stobbe@ymca.ca; www.ymca.ca

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