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Wellmark Foundation grant funds awarded to YMCA of Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area

Grant, chosen from over 90 applicants, helps develop obesity prevention program

December 12, 2013

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(Cedar Rapids, Iowa) – Today, the Wellmark Foundation and the YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area held a check presentation to celebrate the development and dissemination of evidence-based obesity prevention initiatives through the SWITCH Obesity Prevention Program. Funded by a grant for $50,000 from the Wellmark Foundation, the project will help fill an unmet need in youth obesity prevention by positively influencing parenting behaviors and home environments.

The SWITCH Obesity Prevention Program in Iowa
The development and dissemination of programs focused on evidence-based obesity prevention is a high priority for our country and our state. The SWITCH program, managed by the Community-Campus partnership for health at Iowa State University, fills an unmet need in youth obesity prevention by positively influencing parenting behaviors and home environments shown to predict risk of obesity. The proposed project extends an existing partnership with the Cedar Rapids YMCA to further build and evaluate a more comprehensive, web-based tool to facilitate a broader diffusion of the SWITCH program.

“SWITCH inspires children in our community to make healthier choices,” said Bob Carlson, President/CEO of the YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metro. “We have been partnering with local elementary schools to run this program here for more than five years with great outcomes. The expertise of Iowa State University in streamlining the program delivery model, coupled with the power of the YMCA network across the state of Iowa gives us a unique opportunity to make an even greater impact on the health of children across our state.” Carlson continued, “We are thrilled to have Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield’s support to improve the health of Iowa children. Together, we can accomplish so much more.”

Grant one of only eight selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans and their communities. Through its 2013 Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) Grant Program, the Foundation received 91 grant requests seeking support for smaller community health projects. This grant award to the YMCA of the Cedar Rapids represents one of eight competitively awarded grants to create pilot efforts or expand health initiatives in Iowa and South Dakota focused on childhood obesity prevention and community-based wellness projects.

The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award a cumulative total of over $350,500 to these eight grant recipients to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“The SWITCH Obesity Prevention Program is prioritizing healthy habits in the home environment, which is critical in preventing childhood obesity and fostering a healthier lifestyle,” says Matt McGarvey, director of the Wellmark Foundation. “We are proud to support The YMCA of Cedar Rapids and Iowa State University in this endeavor.”

About YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area
The YMCA is a charity that has been delivering programs for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility in greater Cedar Rapids for 145 years. Our mission has always been to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. We serve people of all ages, incomes, religions and backgrounds. Our impact is extensive. We serve 23,000 people each year, 33% require YMCA subsidies and scholarships in order to participate. We strive to never turn anyone away due to an inability to pay the established fees. 

We pride ourselves on our top-notch progressive swimming lesson and water safety programs; high quality and affordable school-age child care; leadership development programs for kids at YMCA Camp Wapsie; and programs promoting and encouraging healthy lifestyles like: SWITCH, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, Fitness Mileage, Healthy Kids Day, ActivTrax and our extensive offering of wellness classes, sports, and recreation for all ages. We are part of a powerful movement of YMCAs across the nation and one of 36 YMCAs in Iowa that are continuing to find innovative ways to nurture the potential of kids, improve health and make our communities stronger.

For more information on the SWITCH Obesity Prevention Program, contact Cally Murray, 319-360-2478 / For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit


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