In its advocacy role, the Alliance initiates, promotes, and sponsors programs enabling YMCAs to provide youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility programs to their communities. We diligently monitor legislative and regulatory issues, as well as educate and advocate to policymakers concerning community services YMCAs provide. The Alliance has been involved in several key issues at the state level directly impacting YMCAs. The Alliance worked with legislators and interested parties on concussion prevention, swimming pool inspection, and early childhood and school age legislation to ensure YMCAs were protected and supported.
We are YMCAs’ statewide voice. With that responsibility, and in our work, we strive to uphold the four core YMCA values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.
The Alliance remains flexible enough to address matters when warranted. If you are interested in partnering with the Indiana Alliance of YMCAs on advocacy efforts promoting Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility, please contact us.
Priority 1 - Water Safety (Healthy Living)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites drownings as the cause of more deaths among children ages 1-4 than any other cause, except birth defects. Among youths ages 1 to 14, fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes. Further, accidental drowning is a leading cause of death among African-American youth.
A study conducted by Meyers, Cuesta & Lai (2017) links decreased drowning rates to the labor market for lifeguards, drawing from annual data as far back as from 1972 until present on lifeguard employment rates and drowning rates by race, gender and ethnicity.” Unfortunately, there is currently a worldwide shortage of lifeguards, and Indiana has not escaped the downward trend. Like municipal pools, community centers and local Ys have felt the sting of the shortage, as they’ve had to reduce pool hours and eliminate pool days.
For Indiana YMCAs, this means Water Safety has become its marquee issue. Armed with supporting data, Indiana’s YMCAs advocate for:
- State support for lifeguard training
- State support for swim lessons
- Improvements in lifeguard certifications
- Establishing public pool standards
- Establishing fines for pool or open water violators
- Required and supported integration of swimming in curriculum for state-supported pre-schools
- Incentives for lifeguard training (e.g., college credits, tax credits, stipend, etc.)
- Coordinated statewide effort to highlight safety requirements in public pools and open waters
 Wiltse J. Contested waters: A social history of swimming pools in America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press; 2007.
 Myers, S. L., Jr, Cuesta, A. M., & Lai, Y. (2017). Competitive Swimming and Racial Disparities in Drowning. The Review of Black political economy, 44(1-2), 77–97. doi:10.1007/s12114-017-9248-y
Priority 2 - Diabetes Prevention (Healthy Living)
Indiana YMCAs understand Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP) that are certified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are proven to reduce the onset of diabetes. In fact, the leading nationally recognized DPP was born in an Indiana YMCA! Continuing their focus on chronic disease prevention and healthy aging so that all people have access to needed programs that provide an opportunity to overall improved health and wellness across the State, the Y is building on past successes by:
- Supporting the State’s ongoing efforts to develop a Diabetes Action Plan that incorporates diabetes prevention strategies through DPPs.
- Additionally, the Alliance supports extending Indiana Medicaid coverage to DPPs.
Priority 3 - Early Childhood Care (Youth Development)
Research finds that 85% of the brain is developed by age 5. Indiana has increased requirements for certain childcare programs and expanded pre-K access; yet, much work remains. All Hoosier children should have access to consistent, high-quality and affordable learning opportunities. The Alliance advocates for:
- Increasing capacity of quality childcare slots through state funding to supplement Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) and increased quality and capacity building activities
- Expanding high-quality pre-kindergarten through publicly funded pre-K options that are evidence based, age-appropriate and available in both school- and community-based settings
- Updating and implementing a standardized assessment tool for kindergarten readiness
Priority 4 - Out-of-School Time Learning (Youth Development)
As one of the largest providers of before- and after-school care in Indiana, the YMCA offers nourishing learning environments that promote exploration and knowledge-building through our Before & After School programs. As a leader in youth development, the Y understands the importance of providing Hoosier youth with a balance of academically rich activities as well as an enhanced focus on overall physical well-being. In addition to working side-by-side with industry experts and school districts to design experiences that help our children learn, grow and thrive, the Y advocates for increased access to consistent, high-quality and affordable out-of-school time (OST) learning opportunities through:
- Public funding for high quality programs that are evidence-based
- Increased funding for OST programs to support innovation and capacity building
Priority 5 - Civic Engagement (Social Responsibility)
Since 1965, Indiana’s YMCAs have helped Hoosier youth develop personal growth and engage in life-long, responsible citizenship through the Youth and Government program.
The Youth and Government Program is an experiential learning civic engagement program that uses mock government as a vehicle for teaching Hoosier 7th through 12th graders about democracy. The program develops youth who will be better citizens now by being both knowledgeable and active in determining the future of our democracy.
Youth and Government develops and promotes:
- an understanding of local, state, national, and international concerns,
- research, study and debate on public issues,
- exploration of careers in public service,
- interaction with adult and youth leaders involved in decision-making processes,
- an understanding of political systems and the forum they provide for the effective and peaceful resolution of issues and concerns,
- appreciation for the diversity of viewpoints on public issues and a concurrent respect for ideas, beliefs and the positions of others, and
- demonstration of citizenship responsibilities and leadership roles essential to the health of participatory democracy.
Throughout 2020, the Alliance will be working with legislators to continue raising awareness and discussing how to get youth from their communities civically informed and engaged.