In the fall of 2015, the Valley of the Sun YMCA was selected by the YMCA of the USA to participate in a national LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA Learning Cohort.  The purpose of this cohort is to prepare the Valley of the Sun YMCA to launch the LIVESTRONG® program at one or more of its sixteen branches by February 2016. The Valley of the Sun YMCA will become the first Y in Arizona and one of the few in the western United States to offer the program. Its selection was based on evidence of an unmet need in Arizona, alignment with its strategic goals, strong outreach potential to cancer survivors, and success with similar programs for individuals living with other chronic diseases such as type II diabetes.

This learning cohort will enhance Y’s partnerships in the oncology community, train Y program leaders, and modify the environments at  Y branches to ensure they offer optimal support to cancer survivors. Staff members who wish to become certified instructors for the LIVESTRONG® program must complete over 16 hours of training on cancer, communication skills, exercise modification, and safety to ensure that the program experience is effectively tailored to the abilities and personal goals of each participant.

The 12-week, small group (limited to six participants) program is offered free of charge and is open to any adult 18 years old or older living with or beyond cancer treatment. The group meets twice per week for 90 minutes. The program maintains fidelity to the national model and outcomes. Changes in physical activity level, cardiovascular endurance, cancer-related fatigue, quality of life, connections with other group members, plans to continue regular exercise after the program ends, and participant satisfaction are measured to ensure positive impact.

The Valley of the Sun YMCA’s goal is to implement LIVESTRONG® at each of its branches so that every Arizonan recovering from cancer is given the opportunity to heal and regain wellness.