YMCA Branch Name

For Youth Development
For Healthy Living
For Social Development

Lt. Gov. Foley leads prevention program at YMCA


KEARNEY — “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” — and more than 100 children at the YMCA of Kearney chimed in Monday morning with Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and Sue Klein, the YMCA’s Child Care Center director.

“It’s nice to be in Kearney and be outside of Lincoln. The governor and I feel it’s important to interact with the public all over the state of Nebraska, including with little children. It’s important to teach children curriculum like the Second Step program so they know how to communicate and how to interact,” Foley said.

The children were warming up to review what they’ve been learning in the Second Step program, which was spearheaded by Mark Foradori, the United Against Violence Coalition coordinator.

“We began the program after consistently seeing about 20 percent of high school students stating in surveys they were bullied over the last few years. We knew we needed to do something,” Foradori said.

“We started Second Step last August. We can see the difference in the children. It helps them work on social and emotional concepts,” Klein said.



KEARNEY — In recent years, the Kearney Family YMCA has taken tremendous steps to help people change today for a healthier tomorrow.

Part of this movement was the implementation of its Diabetes Prevention Program. Since the program was developed in August 2013, its effect has been felt by many people.

Because of its intense dedication to prevention and education, the Kearney YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program has been nominated and selected to receive the 2015 Healthy Community Prevention Award. The Healthy Community Awards are sponsored by CHI Health Good Samaritan. This award is presented to an individual or group who has provided a service or program that makes a significant contribution to preventing injury, illness or disease.

Of all the YMCAs in Nebraska, the Kearney Y was awarded the initial grant to fund the program. Laura Aden, a fitness director and personal trainer at the time, was appointed the program coordinator. The group-based program is led by one of three trained lifestyle coaches who help a small group of people with similar goals. Group discussions include topics such as healthy eating, increasing physical activity, reducing stress and problem solving.

“The Kearney YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program exceeds the national standards in numerous categories,” Aden says. Those standards include average weekly and monthly attendance and retention over the course of the program. The average participant percentage weight loss for nine sessions at the Kearney location is approximately 6.5 percent, while the national average is only 4.6 percent.

This success is a result of the efforts of the program leaders, of the physicians who have referred patients who are ready to make the changes and of the design of the overall program.

As diabetes continues to be a serious health concern for individuals across the nation, Aden foresees further emphasis on the prevention program and sees its lasting effect. She is very proud of the program’s recent collaboration with Buffalo County Community Partners to create a diabetes referral network. Aden also reaches out to local clinics, hospitals and other organizations in the community.

Kearney Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Kaiti George nominated the Kearney YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program for the award.

“Kearney’s YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program is a leader in the nation for overall attendance, average physical activity minutes, completed food journals and percentage of weight lost during the program. I think that has a lot to say about how the program is run,” George said.

KEARNEY — On a cold, windy day last December, Denny Placzek, executive director of the Kearney Family YMCA, huddled under blankets in the thrashing wind and cold on the roof of the Y at 4500 Sixth Ave. to inspire Y donations for the Give Where You Live event sponsored by the Kearney Area Community Foundation.

Thursday afternoon, with his feet firmly on the ground, Placzek will celebrate the YMCA building’s 20th anniversary at an open house. Guests will enjoy free food, games, activities and a kids soccer clinic. It will be the Y’s way of thanking the community for its unwavering support.

“I think of the Y as a large indoor neighborhood,” Placzek said. “Building relationships is what the Y is all about. We continue to change every year. If we see a need, we take a look and move forward.”


KEARNEY — The Kearney Family YMCA will accept a $12,200 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska at the annual Cornhusker State Games Torch Run this afternoon at the Y at 4500 Sixth Ave.

The presentation will be made between 5:30 and 6 p.m., according to Denny Placzek, executive director at the Y.

The grant will go to the Y’s popular diabetes prevention program, now in its second year. The one-year program is for people who are at least 18 years old, overweight and at risk of developing diabetes, according to Pamela Little, the Y’s aquatic manager. She filled out the application at the end of March.

“We at the Y want to do more than ‘typical swim and gym.’ We want to go after what the community needs,” Little said. “Lowering the risk for disease is always a goal. Diabetes is a huge health risk.”


The Y is committed to providing programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. We make every effort to ensure that no one is turned away due to inability to pay. Click to read more about our financial assistance.