YWCA Receives National Award for Health Initiative

Worcester Peso Sana Ahora: Healthy Weight Now

Over 55% of Worcester Latinos are overweight or obese, and the YWCA of Central Massachusetts is teaming up with various community organizations to take proactive steps towards changing this staggering statistic.

In May, the YWCA of Central Massachusetts received the YWCA USA 2009 Hallmark Initiative Award for Racial Justice for its Worcester Peso Sano Ahora (Healthy Weight Now) or “PASA” program.  PASA is a program that promotes healthy weight among Latino/Hispanics in the heart of “El Pueblo.”  “El Pueblo” is a term used to describe Worcester’s Latino/Hispanic population as “the village,” with the belief that the diverse voices within the community are the most important voices to identify the needs of the community.

As the planning year for PASA has come to a close, strategies are in place for a full-scale project implementation.  The project was bolstered in August with the completion and ratification of the Operating Principles of the PASA Coalition, defining the structure and function of the Coalition and identifying specific work groups.

September 8-14, a Pilot Program, “Que Pasa Worcester? Healthy Living Week,” took place, introducing and implementing short-term programs to both engage the community and test some of the projects that are scheduled for implementation in the upcoming two years (Oct. 2009 through Sept. 2011).

The Pilot engaged local business owners, who offered special pricing on healthy food purchases and restaurant choices.  Artichoke Food Co-op, Cibao Market, Main South Farmer’s Market, Main Suprette, Santiago’s, and Tito’s Bakery offered many healthy options specials during the week of the Pilot.

Both the YWCA of Central Massachusetts and the YMCA of Greater Worcester provided free access to their pools and several free fitness classes to PASA participants.

Also throwing its hat in the ring was the Grafton Street Elementary School, which participated in Healthy Living Week by having its students track their physical activity and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

As PASA awaits notification of continued funding, the Pilot will be evaluated in order to learn and discover ways to improve the program in time for its full implementation in October.


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