YMCA Partners to Improve Community Vitality in Five Cities
Communities serve as our connection points. Cultivating relationships enhances our emotional health and can improve our physical health, strengthen our resilience, and give us energy to take on challenges. All of these dimensions make up our vitality, which is defined as the ability to pursue life with health, strength, and energy. The Cigna Group's proprietary research finds people with high vitality are at least six times more likely to say they feel a sense of belonging in their community. This is just one of the many reasons that The Cigna Group Foundation is proud to partner with the YMCA to help support the vitality and well-being of the communities we collectively serve.
Over the next three years, The Cigna Group Foundation will support YMCA programming focused on improving personal vitality. In its first year, the program will be implemented in local YMCA locations in Houston, Memphis, Nashville, Phoenix and St. Louis. Programs across all markets are designed to help teens and young adults develop leadership and post-college skills and offer older adults more opportunities for social connection and healthy activities to improve overall mental wellness.
“Building connections – whether at home, work or school – is central to improving the health and vitality of individuals and our communities,” said David Cordani, Chairman and CEO of The Cigna Group. “The YMCA of the USA plays an instrumental role in fostering connections across the communities they serve. We are excited to partner with the YMCA to reach more people at pivotal stages of their lives with programming to support their health and well-being. Together, we are building stronger, healthier and more vital communities.”
“The Y understands that taking even small steps to improve vitality can have a big impact on the lives of people of all ages,” said Suzanne McCormick, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “YMCAs provide welcoming and safe environments where all people – regardless of age or background – can get the support they need to achieve and maintain good health in spirit, mind and body. The generous funding from The Cigna Group Foundation ensures that Ys serving these five communities can help even more people understand why and how to improve their vitality.”
The programming will vary across the different cities. Some specific activities include:
Houston: At the YMCA of Greater Houston, over 500 teens will have access to experiences that foster a culture of service, including support in achieving academic and workforce goals as well as civic engagement opportunities where they experience government policies and methodologies firsthand.
Memphis: The Georgette and Cato Johnson YMCA in Whitehaven will help provide post-secondary opportunities, help bridge the achievement gap, and develop life skills that will allow city youth to succeed in life.
Nashville: The Northwest Family YMCA in historically Black North Nashville will strengthen its Active Older Adults programming, which extends beyond senior-focused group exercise classes to include social events, lunch-and-learns, and fellowship and camaraderie – along with the Northwest Y's first-ever Run, Walk or Roll event.
Phoenix: The Valley of the Sun YMCA will engage seniors in social activities to reduce isolation. This will include its YMCA Outreach Program for Aging Seniors (Y-OPAS), which provides services to seniors such as transportation to medical appointments, shopping, and errands, as well as monthly luncheons and fitness classes that promote and support self-sufficiency and independent living.
St. Louis: The Gateway Region YMCA will utilize funding for a dedicated staff person focused on improving social connectedness, decreasing isolation and identifying opportunities for seniors to be well emotionally, mindfully and physically. This will include wrap-around support through programming such as fitness classes, health resources, social activities, Senior Olympics, pickleball, nutrition education and community gardens.
The programming at these five locations is supported by a $1 million grant, first announced last year, to better address and help improve the vitality of local communities.