The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) recently awarded a COVID-19 Response Grant totaling $150,000 to the New York State YMCA Foundation, Inc. to improve the physical and mental health of school-age children served by YMCAs across New York State.

Studies have shown that physical activity, nutrition, and mindfulness are essential to children’s mental and immune health, particularly during times of crisis. As schools had to employ various learning models to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, it has become increasingly difficult for children to receive adequate physical activity and nutrition instruction. As a result, children are now subject to increased risk of chronic disease, depression and anxiety resulting from isolation and other factors exacerbated by COVID-19, such as access to food and social supports.

“As the largest provider of school-age care in New York State, the YMCA is uniquely positioned to combat the growing physical inactivity rate among children due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains Kyle Stewart, Executive Director of the New York State YMCA Foundation. “We are grateful for the overwhelming support from the New York State Health Foundation and look forward to partnering with our friends at CATCH Global Foundation to fill this critical gap in children’s physical, social, and emotional wellbeing.”

Funding will allow YMCA staff from New York’s 37 Associations to participate in virtual trainings and access CATCH’s new video health and nutrition lessons designed for multi-grade distance learning. Additionally, YMCAs will be equipped with virtual and in-person curriculum and equipment to actively engage children while social distancing, as well as virtually through a screen.

“The COVID crisis has highlighted the interconnection of physical health, mental health, and immune health, says Duncan Van Dusen, CEO and founder of CATCH Global Foundation. “This partnership will allow us to bring New York’s YMCAs and the thousands of children they serve our new distance-based PE and health program to keep kids well during the pandemic.”

For more information about the school-age childcare programming offered at YMCAs around New York State, please visit your local YMCA’s website.