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November 19, 2011

I love the YMCA!!

by Andrea O'Connell

It was a day to remember.

I was up at 7:00 a.m., and out the door soon after for a YMCA Board member retreat, at the Westin Hotel, lasting all day today.

I’m a member of the Board of the YMCA Children’s Advocacy Center in Broward County, Florida.   In Broward County, there are seven or eight YMCA centers each with their own Boards.

Today was a great opportunity for all the YMCA Operation staff and Board members to get together and begin the process of strategically planning what the next five years will look like for our communities.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement!  What plans we have!  Our work will touch so many lives…. children, young adults, seniors – we’ll touch them all, improve their lives and the community.

It’s going to take me a couple of days of writing to put today’s ideas and plans down on paper.  And the work is too important to breeze over the details in haste.

Well, let me start by introducing you to Mark Fenton, our Keynote speaker today.

Mark took us through the why, how, and when of the enormous change that needs to happen, not just in Broward County, Florida, but all over the country.

The thrust of our work, the country’s work, is to change behavior in the community as it relates to public health, safety, wellness, healthy eating, and particularly obesity.

The data with regards to kids with Type 2 Diabetes is startling, numbers are off the chart.  We used to refer to this kind of Diabetes as “Adult Onset.”   We cannot really refer to it as Adult Onset any longer because it’s now a child’s disease and is referred to as Type 2 Diabetes.  (I am not familiar with Diabetes because it’s no one in my family is afflicted with it, fortunately, so I’ll have to do some research in the coming weeks.)

Anyway, back to Mark Fenton.  His website says:  Engineering physical activity back into American communities and lives.

He is an MIT Engineer and today is an Associate Professor/Researcher at Tufts University.

He is a sought after public speaker (he was wildly entertaining), a Public Health expert / community planner – an author, athlete, environmentalist, and so much more.

Here’s his website:  www.markfenton.com/index.html

In a nutshell, his goal when working with government and communities is:

Build communities that support a healthier, more physically active population, and more sustainable and enjoyable lifestyles. The pathway there, however, is very challenging. Mark Fenton is a public health, planning, and transportation consultant who is trying to help America find its way to more active and more livable cities, towns, and neighborhoods. He works with organizations and communities around the country to build environments, policies, and programs that help to create places where more people walk, bicycle, and take transit more of the time. And its not just about healthier people. Done well, active community designs lead to economically, environmentally, and socially thriving cities, towns, and rural settings where people of all ages, abilities, and incomes lead long, vibrant lives.

Needless to say, our goals involve changes in transportation planning, government, and education…

I’ll be sharing a lot more about this journey that I’m going on with the YMCA in the coming days.

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