YMCA Projects

The Health Improvement Program (HIP) has a long history of collaborating with the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA). The collaboration started in 2001 when HIP began development of a 10-month group behavior change program to be implemented in YMCAs along the West Coast. In 2002, the program was pilot-tested in nine YMCAs. Since then, the program has been disseminated to YMCAs across the nation, as well as being implemented on the Stanford campus. This program, known as the Gulick project, is consistent with the Y-USA's shift in philosophy and culture towards total health improvement for people who feel they need to make a lifestyle change to improve their health ("Health Seekers"). HIP continues to work with Y-USA as they continue this cultural shift as part of the Activate America® Movement.

In addition, in 2002 HIP developed Living Strong Living Well, a strength-training program provided free of charge to cancer survivors that is currently being implemented in 10 YMCAs in the Bay area and additional YMCAs through out the country.  HIP offers regular training sessions for YMCAs that want to offer the program in their communities. For more information on this successful program, please visit Living Strong Living Well.

In 2006, HIP was asked by Y-USA to write a report outlining the relationship between physical inactivity and childhood obesity. The report entitled Building "Generation Play": Addressing the Crisis of Inactivity Among America's Children was released in February 2007 in Washington DC as part of the Partnership for Play Every Day movement led by the Y-USA. The PLAY Every Day Act was introduced to Congress following the release of this report.

One of the recommendations included in the Stanford report, as well as in the Institute of Medicine’s “Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance,” was to develop a tool to assess opportunities for healthy eating and active living in communities. The Y-USA, which witnessed a clear need for such a tool in its community work, initiated the creation of a community assessment tool in partnership with Stanford, Harvard, and St. Louis Universities, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The resulting Community Healthy Living Index is now available for use by YMCAs and their communities nationwide. A talk describing the development of the index was selected as a Plenary Presentation at the 6th annual Active Living Research Conference in San Diego in February 2009. In addition, an article describing the development of the tool was published in Preventive Medicine.

Currently, HIP is serving as part of an expert advisory board overseeing the evaluation of the Y-USA’s larger community effort called the Healthier Communities Initiatives (HCI), which include three initiatives: Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC), Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental changE (ACHIEVE), and Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities. HIP is also developing a database that catalogs the policy and environmental objectives and related outcomes to be used by communities participating in HCI to facilitate their community efforts. HIP also serves as a member of the Healthy Communities Roundtable (HCR) and Urban Innovations Initiative (UII), Y-USA’s national partnership components of the HCI to bring leading organizations together for expert advice and technical assistance in guiding community teams.