People of all ages and backgrounds in the Gateway Region are struggling with chronic disease. Children face seemingly insurmountable learning gaps. And the problem of economic disparity continues to grow.
But when challenges like these arise, the Y provides opportunities for all.
As an Association, we have identified the following three focus areas that will help us reach our goal to ensure all youth and families in our region have the resources needed to succeed.
1. Bridging the Opportunity Gap
We believe every child deserves access to high quality, enriching life experiences. The Y provides opportunities for all youth to connect, belong and achieve.
Need: Depending on their family's income levels, kids grow up in separate and unequal communities. Their fate is unfairly tied to the zip code in which they are born and the resources available in their communities.
- All pre-school aged children start school developmentally on par with their peers, and ready to learn.
- All children read at grade level by the end of 6th grade.
- All children at risk of drowning are equipped with key swimming skills and drowning prevention instruction.
2. Connecting Communities
We believe in the power of connection and are committed to supporting people from all communities to develop positive, supportive relationships. The Y provides safe spaces and the opportunity to convene individuals from across our region for relationship-building, volunteer activities, the formation of community partnerships and working toward collective impact and equity for our region.
Need: Positive relationships in safe spaces between people from different backgrounds, abilities, ages and experiences support stronger communities and a greater appreciation of diversity.
- All youth with disabilities will receive one-on-one support to enable them to participate in all Y programs with their able-bodied peers through inclusion services.
- Teens will have a place at the Y where they feel they belong, are valued and build positive relationships with adults. While building this cohesion, they will affect positive change in their communities through service projects and civic engagement.
- All individuals, families and groups will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful volunteer experiences that strengthen the foundation of our communities.
3. Cultivating Health Equity
We believe where you live should not dictate your quality and length of life. The Y provides supportive environments and community integrated health programs to address these disparities.
Need: Research for the St. Louis region has shown that life expectancy can vary up to 35 years, based on communities located less than 30 miles apart.
- All youth programs facilitate healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA) standards to prevent childhood obesity.
- Youth and families at risk of, and currently experiencing food insecurity will have access to healthy food through community gardens and Y programs.
- Adults and youth at risk for chronic disease have access to evidence-based programs that have been shown to result in healthier lifestyles, increased physical activity and decreased weight.