ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State YMCA Foundation Inc. was recently awarded a $150,000 COVID-19 Response Grant by the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) to reportedly improve the physical and mental health of school-age kids who utilize YMCA facilities across New York State.

Studies show that physical activity, nutrition, and mindfulness are key to a child’s mental and immune health, especially in a time of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for children to receive the right amount of exercise and proper nutrition. As a result, kids are now at an increased risk of chronic disease, depression and anxiety resulting from isolation as well as additional factors brought on by COVID-19, like access to food and social support.

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