YMCA adopts healthy living standards

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The fight against childhood obesity is being waged at the state's largest childcare provider right here in Central Virginia. Nationwide, the YMCA is adopting new national standards for nutrition and exercise.

The Y is taking First Lady Michelle Obama's fight against obesity to heart. The efforts have far-reaching consequences. The locations in our area target kids from pre-k through middle school with the goal of learning good habits to last a lifetime.

At the YMCA's pre-k program, 3-year-old Kailyn is learning what she should and should not be eating. She even knows why she's supposed to like the fruit they serve.

"They make me big and strong," she said.

Carrots, banana chips and 1% milk were on the menu Thursday. The organization's healthy living standards include offering fruits and veggies, increasing exercise and limiting the time spent in front of the television.

Director Nan Brennan said it's a lifestyle change at a time when one in three kids are obese or overweight.

"We talk about building a health body, what it takes to have energy to do the things you need to do, how you can learn when you have a healthy body," she explained.

Kailyn's mom Lakeisha said what the 3-year-old learns at daycare, resonates at home.

"Since being here it's like I'm trying to simplify everything so we can be on one accord," she told NBC12. "Whatever she gets here we should start serving at home."

But it's not always easy because most kids would rather candy and cookies than broccoli.

"If they look at it and frown I say 'well, try it! You might like it,'" YMCA cook Charlene Hampton said. "The teachers and all of us sit there before them and we all eat it together."

The program is offering food for thought for everyone and serves as a model for other daycare providers.

We all know eating healthy can be tougher on the wallet. Brennan explained the effort is so important; they've built the funds for the more expensive, better-for-you food into the Y's budget.

The after school program, which adheres to the standards, reaches more than 2,000 kids at 38 locations in Central Virginia.

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