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Youth Advocate for Policy Change to Create Healthier Neighborhoods

Thursday June 30, 2011

A new group of youth advocates is working for policy change that they hope will increase access to healthy food, boost exercise opportunities and improve safety in west Louisville neighborhoods. The Louisville Youth Advocates comprised of approximately 50 young people ages 14 to 18 is supervised by staff of the YMCA of Greater Louisville with funds provided by the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness from the federal Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant that Louisville was awarded in March 2010. Youth are assigned to one of five newly-hired coordinators who train the young people in policy development and advocacy. “I have complete confidence that policy makers will be receptive to the Louisville Youth Advocates,” said coordinator Lynette Ponder. “The youth in the organization are extremely knowledgeable and are excited about being advocates. They are also respectful of the process it takes to affect changes in policy.” So far the Louisville Youth Advocates have been collecting survey data on what changes residents would like to see in the areas of healthy food options, opportunities for physical activity and neighborhood safety. Based on the survey results, the youth group will develop and propose policy changes and gather petitions in support of those policy changes. The group will be meeting with church leaders in late July in an effort to gain their support for proposed changes. In late fall, the Louisville Youth Advocates expect to present their findings and recommendations for policy change to the Louisville Metro Council. For more information or to join the Louisville Youth Advocates, phone Sasha Belenky at 498-6342.

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The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness administers the $7.9 million CPPW grant which seeks to advance the work of the Healthy Hometown Movement and make Louisville a healthier place to live for everyone by: encouraging environmental, systems and behavioral change designed to improve the ability to make healthier choices, assisting with developing policies, programs and communitywide tools needed to reach the entire community with healthier messages healthier choice support systems, targeting entire communities including underserved areas where healthier choices may be severely limited. To learn more about Louisville’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, visit http://www.louisvilleky.gov/Health/PuttingPreventiontoWork. # # #