Disseminating health promotion practices in after-school programs through YMCA learning collaboratives

Jean L. Wiecha, Toben F. Nelson, Barbara A. Roth, Jerry Glashagel, Lynne Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose. We describe the percrived usefulness of a learning collaborative for translating obesity prevention sdence into practice at YMCA after-school programs. Approach. We conducted mixed-methods research to identify beneficial aspects of the collaborative and to assess perceived effect of the collaborative on ability to meet goals. Setting. Sixty-one YMCA after-school programs serving roughly 2500 children in 21 states. Participants. After-school program staff attending learning sessions for the collaborative. Intervention. YMCA learning collaboratives comprise a structured organizational change process delivered during 9 to 12 months that aim to empower staff to find local methods for achieving spedfic program outcomes related to diet and physical activity. Research Method. Eight focus groups conducted during the collaboratives assessed their usefulness. A post hoc Web-based follow-up survey (39 respondents; response rate, 40.6%) assessed final perceived effect. Results. Qualitative and quantitative data were highly positive about the usefulness of the collaborative. The collaboratives' duration, peer learning, multilevel staff involvement, focus on creating a supportive organization, and regular coaching support enabled many respondents to make program and policy changes consistent with project goals. There was consensus that executive-level commitment to the work was critical. Conclusion. Learning collaboratives are a promising tool for embedding health promotion practices in existing afterschool programs through a structured organizational change process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-198
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • After-school programs
  • Child overnutrition
  • Culture change
  • Health focus: Physical activity
  • Institutional (ymca)
  • Low/middle income
  • Manuscript format: Research
  • Mixed urban/ suburban/rural
  • Multi-ethnic
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Outcome measure: Attitudinal
  • Policy change
  • Prevention and control
  • Prevention research
  • Qualitative
  • Research purpose: Program evaluation
  • Setting: Community
  • Spiritual health
  • Strategy: Skill building/behavior change
  • Study design: Nonexperimental
  • Target population circumstances: Mixed education level
  • Target population: Adult program staff


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