Wellmont Livewell, Children's Miracle Network Partner With YMCA Of Bristol On Afterschool Program

Wellmont LiveWell and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals have teamed with the YMCA of Bristol to develop an innovative afterschool program that advances healthy lifestyles.

Afterschool programs play a key role in helping children with their development and self-confidence. The YMCA has strengthened its efforts with a special offering on fitness and wellness that gives children 1 ½ hour a week of physical activity.

By integrating healthy snacks, nutrition education and physical activity into the schedule, the YMCA, LiveWell and Children's Miracle Network are instilling beneficial habits in the region's children.

"This is an excellent partnership that will significantly impact the quality of life for children," said Todd Norris, Wellmont Health System's senior vice president of system advancement and president of Wellmont Foundation. "We are grateful for the opportunity to help children foster healthier habits they can use throughout their lives in such a meaningful way."

Offered once a week to six elementary schools in the Bristol area, the 12-week program has enrolled 180 children from six to 11 years of age. The YMCA hopes to extend its offering to additional schools in the coming months and increase the number of participating children to 250.

The program doubles the amount of fitness children receive at school. By transporting the youths to the local YMCA, these children can take advantage of its facilities and participate in open play and structured activities, such as swimming.

In addition to physical activity, the YMCA's staff teaches the children a health and wellness curriculum that enables them to understand the importance of checking labels on food containers, consuming less sugar, being active and making beneficial life choices.

"The YMCA is pleased to offer an additional positive way for children to learn and grow," said Chris Ayers, the YMCA's CEO. "We are excited to add this newest program to our activities because it will contribute greatly to the cultural and behavioral changes we want children to adopt for their long-term well-being.

"Through this partnership, along with support from the school systems in Bristol, Tenn., and Bristol, Va., and the United Way of Bristol, this initiative will accomplish an important mission to grow and transform even more lives."

In addition to this collaborative with LiveWell and Children's Miracle Network, the YMCA has long enjoyed a productive relationship with Bristol Regional Medical Center and Wellmont Medical Associates.

The YMCA Wellness Center at 2000 W. State St. was previously operated by Bristol Regional and is now run by the YMCA through a lease with Wellmont. Bristol Regional also participated in a corporate challenge with the YMCA and other companies to encourage weight loss and reduction in the percentage of body fat. Plus, Wellmont Medical Associates has an arrangement with one of its Bristol practices that enables patients to receive a 30-day personalized exercise program from the YMCA.

Greg Neal, Bristol Regional's interim president, said the latest joint effort is an excellent way for two forward-thinking organizations to align to benefit children.

"We appreciate the YMCA's vision with this program and look forward to working together for better health in our region," Neal said. "Our health system shares the YMCA's commitment to improve and enhance lives by developing ideas and methods that maintain people's health and create a culture of wellness."

Wellmont LiveWell is a community initiative geared toward improving the health status of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The program urges area residents to commit to important habits, such as regular exercise, healthy diets and maintenance of proper blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and offers many ways to accomplish these new benchmarks.

Wellmont has been the regional affiliate of Children's Miracle Network for more than 25 years. All money raised locally for Children's Miracle Network stays in the area to benefit children's health. Wellmont uses proceeds to purchase equipment for its pediatric departments, neonatal intensive care unit and emergency departments and to fund community partnerships that advance children's health.

The YMCA of Bristol is a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Its mission is to strengthen the community by improving the quality of life and inspiring individuals and families to develop their fullest potential in spirit, mind and body. Its values are caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.