A $225,000 grant awarded to the YMCA of York County could translate into urban gardens, anti-tobacco campaigns and some more crosswalks on York City's west end.

Those are just a few ways the YMCA and its partners might use funds from the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) initiative, awarded to just 16 organizations nationwide.

For the next few months, YMCA staffers will meet with neighborhood residents to explore the possibilities, said Cori Strathmeyer, the YMCA's wellness director.

"Our goal is to start implementing changes this summer," she said.

The YMCA issued a news release Monday announcing the award. REACH is an initiative created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and designed to address gaps between racial and ethnic groups.

Grant recipients serve communities with populations under 500,000 people, at least half of whom are black or Hispanic.

Projects under way: Most likely, Strathmeyer said, the grant will be used to expand the work already being done by Eat Play Breathe York.

Salem Square, a neighborhood where the YMCA recently renovated 11 homes, "seems like a likely place for us to begin," said Kate Harner, the YMCA's director of development and communications.

Also, nearby, a new initiative called the Hope Street Garden and Learning Lab got under way last month.

Ideas will be put into action after meetings with neighborhood residents and a community assessment, Harner said.

"We're not prescribing the fixes.


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We're instead responding to the community's needs," she said.

The community: York's minority community reflects national statistics in terms of higher rates of tobacco use and chronic disease.

Minorities tend to have less access to healthy food and healthcare providers, Harner said.

Crosswalks, for example, would increase both safety and exercise opportunities in a neighborhood, Strathmeyer said.

Or, maybe residents would prefer a new public park, she said.

Another idea, she said, is to work with corner stores on minimizing the amount of tobacco advertising - especially advertisements that appeal to youth, she said.

"What's really key is that we have additional community partners that are actually from the community," Strathmeyer said.

- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.