Making Healthy Living More Accessible

Friday, April 17, 2015

Desyi Rodriguez knew her daughter Ashley Mina was at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Desyi and her family made healthy, positive changes in their diet, but affordable, accessible, exercise options were not offered near their home in Southeast Raleigh.

The YMCA provided Ashley with academic support through the Y Learning tutorial program at Walnut Creek Elementary School. When the Alexander Family YMCA started offering group fitness classes at the school, Desyi and Ashley were among the first to sign up. Two years and 20 pounds later, Desyi and Ashley consider the Y a life changer.

“The YMCA is a unique place. My daughter needed more opportunities for physical activity. The YMCA staff members here are more supportive and friendly,” said Desyi Rodriguez.

This innovative program is made possible due to donations to the YMCA Annual Campaign and a REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) Grant. Participants like Desyi and her daughter pay a reduced fee based on their household income.


The wellness program at Walnut Creek is the perfect example of the YMCA expanding its reach into communities and outside our traditional, four-wall setting. We can’t wait to offer more innovative programs throughout the region to meet community needs.
     Dexter Hebert, Southeast Raleigh YMCA Associate Branch Director

Community Health Needs

  • 2/3 of adults in North Carolina are overweight or obese.
  • 14% of children ages 2 - 4 in Wake County are obese.
  • Nearly 24% of North Carolina high school students spend 3+ hours watching TV on a school day.
  • Less than 45% of high school students eat fruits or vegetables each day.

YMCA Response

  • Since 2005, 932 children have participated in ENERGIZE!, a program developed by WakeMed to help reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • In 2014, the YMCA launched the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program. More than 65 people throughout the community have participated.
  • In March 2015, the Y launched the 5210 Y Healthy Hero program in all after school programs. The obesity prevention program encourages the development of healthy habits and active play.
  • In 2013, the YMCA of the Triangle joined 28 other YMCAs in the state to form the North Carolina Alliance of YMCAs. The Alliance advocates on behalf of children and families served by the YMCA.