• Journal Article

Disseminating Health Promotion Practices in After-School Programs Through YMCA Learning Collaboratives


Wiecha, J., Nelson, T. F., Roth, B. A., Glashagel, J., & Vaughan, L. (2010). Disseminating Health Promotion Practices in After-School Programs Through YMCA Learning Collaboratives. American Journal of Health Promotion, 24(3), 190-198. DOI: 10.4278/ajhp.08022216


Purpose. We describe the perceived usefulness of a learning collaborative for translating obesity prevention science 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 specific 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 after-school programs through a structured organizational change process. (Am J Health Promot 2010;24[3]:190-198)