Healthy U is a year-round, interactive health and wellness education program created by the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids to address the growing health disparities faced by urban children and families in the Grand Rapids community. Healthy U is offered free of charge to participants.
Disparities that Healthy U addresses include higher than average incidence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and Type II diabetes in the vulnerable populations that we serve.
Healthy U program staff assess and educate more than 6000 low income school-aged youth (K-12) on fitness, nutrition, and character development principles with a focus on increasing each child’s participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity. The program takes place during the school day, during critical after-school hours, and in the summer at more than 40 sites across greater Grand Rapids.
Nutrition in Action
Funded by the USDA/ Michigan Nutrition Network and led by YMCA staff, Nutrition in Action serves 39,000 children and families that are eligible to participate in the Special Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Nutrition in Action provides culturally appropriate, hands-on nutrition education to vulnerable children and families to increase consumption of whole grains, low fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. Program evaluation shows positive change on all targeted behaviors, which include:
- Eating more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products
- Drinking less soda or other sweet drinks
- Being more physically active
- Choosing healthier snacks
- Eating healthy foods more often
YMCA LOOP Afterschool Program
The YMCA LOOP Afterschool program, in conjunction with Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), provides over 600 vulnerable elementary and middle school children a safe, engaging place to learn, grow, and thrive, both individually and academically. YMCA LOOP Afterschool is offered free of charge to participants.
YMCA LOOP program staff are certified teachers that provide each child academic support through tutoring, homework assistance, and other core academic enrichment activities, in addition to recreation, arts and humanities, field trips and more. The program takes place during critical after-school hours at nine sites including: North Park Elementary; North Park Montessori; Grand Rapids Montessori; CA Frost Environmental Science Academy; Shawmut Hills; University Prep Academy; Riverside Middle; Westwood Middle; and Campus Elementary.