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YMCA Accepts Donation of Philip Morris Property in West Louisville

The Greater Louisville YMCA has accepted a combined $1 million cash and property donation from Philip Morris USA. The company donated property at Broadway and 18th Streets where the YMCA will build a new facility in partnership with the University of Louisville.

YMCA President Steve Tarver says the organization was interested in the location, but it would’ve cost too much to buy the property.

“So, as a good non-profit executive I said have you ever thought about donating it, which was kind of a joke at first,” he says “so they came back when we declined on it and said well we’ve talked about it, we might be interested in doing a donation.”

YMCA will be partnering with the University of Louisville for this project so that the new facility can incorporate health services to specifically meet the needs of West Louisville.

“Number one we see huge impact,” Tarver says “first of all the area of health and health equity so we think of health not just as fitness, but we also think of health as economic stability, good educations and physical health.”

Tarver wants to incorporate as many aspects of community health as possible including a community garden, but the company must wait on the realignment of 18th Street before finalizing designs and beginning construction.

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Mentoring Program Faces Volunteer Shortage

The YMCA of Louisville’s mentoring program is having difficulty recruiting adult volunteers for its Children of Prisoners program.

Case manager Dave Washer says the program has up to thirty children between the ages of 11 and 15. He says they have 25 children enrolled in the program and ready to be matched with an adult mentor, but only 15 mentors.

“Just in general, people’s lives are a little more unsettled than they’ve been in past years,” says Washer, “and so to make a commitment to a twelve month program is a little bit tougher decision for people to make.”

Washer says part of the program involves group sessions, so the youth will be able to continue without mentors for awhile. But – he says – they’re reaching out to faith communities to find more volunteers.

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YMCA to Waive Membership Requirement Next Week

Next week, the YMCA of Greater Louisville will open its doors for one week to all residents of the area, without a membership requirement.

YMCA of Greater Louisville President and CEO Steve Tarver says it’s an effort to increase the well-being of the whole community. He says residents of Jefferson, Bullitt and Oldham counties in Kentucky and Clark and Floyd counties in Indiana can have full access to the YMCA and its classes and services with just a photo ID.

“This is the broadest-based, farest-reaching, widest-armed effort we’ve ever done like this,” says Tarver, “so we’re looking forward to seeing what the response will be, how we can learn from that, and how we can build it into the future.”

Tarver says they’ve increased staff for next week and have more introductory classes for newcomers. He says they have no idea how many new people will enter the doors of their neighborhood branches, but they hope the numbers are in the thousands.

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New Program Addresses Childhood Obesity

The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics has launched a new program to help combat childhood obesity in a state that has more overweight children than 48 others. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The program — called Healthy for Life — is housed in the Children’s Hospital Foundation Building downtown (601 S. Floyd St.) and has a staff with doctors, a dietician, exercise physiologist and psychologist. And it’s been busy since it started in mid-July, says medical director Brooke Sweeney.

“Here, we’ve seen, in our time, 100 patients and only one of them has not had a secondary complication of obesity,” Sweeney says. “Half of them have early signs of diabetes. Half have abnormal cholesterols. A third have elevated blood pressures and a third have problems with sleep.”

She says those children range from ages 2 to 18.

The program was launched after U of L Department of Pediatrics staff saw serious health problems in children in which obesity played a major role.

“Our pediatric nephrologists, Dr. Dianne Muchant, went to other specialists and said, ‘Boy we see a lot of kids who are coming in with complications of obesity, and I feel like I can’t address the real issues going on. All I can do is treat that complication instead of really having a chance to deal with all of the lifestyle issues that go with it,'” Sweeney says.

The program provides children and their families with counseling from the staff. Sweeney says the approach is cutting edge.

“We’re using the things we know do help: multidisciplinary family-centered care particularly for kids,” she says. “We also use coaching theory so we call and talk to people quite a bit on the phone to encourage them along the way, to help support them as they’re trying to make changes.”

The program is supported by a half a million dollar grant from Passport Health Plan, a Medicaid managed care plan and space donated by Kosair Children’s Hospital. The program also is supported by the Kentucky Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the YMCA of Greater Louisville. Those covered by Passport Health Plan can participate in the program and some health insurance companies will cover some costs to participants.