Marco Y's healthy living model praised

National Wellness Institute to promote its philosophy statewide, nationally

National Wellness Institute Chuck Gillespie sees Marco's YMCA of South Collier as a perfect model for other health-oriented organizations, Statewide and nationally.

Over the past few years, Marco's YMCA of South Collier has inspired many people to adopt its “healthy living” philosophy.

The Y has long promoted sport, fitness and healthy nutrition programs. More recently, it introduced clinical fitness programs such as physical aquatic therapy, pediatric therapies, adult occupational and physical therapy, and screenings for autism.

Now, the Y's entire rounded model is set to become an example for the area, for the state, the country and possibly internationally.

It has the backing and participation of the National Wellness Institute; whose CEO Chuck Gillespie was in town this past week to talk with key collaborators in the initiative.

They included the Y's CEO, Cindy Love-Abounader, Core Health Partners' owner Paul Thein, and Joe Balavage, the co-founder of the local Diabetes Alliance Network.

Gillespie said the NWI has created a “Wellfinder” program designed to connect people such as medical professionals, insurance carriers, city governments, health coaches and certainly organizations like the Y.

“They Y's model is the future of wellness,” said Gillespie, adding that Covid-19 has proven an extra challenge because it exacerbated (rather than created) problems such as social isolation, financial stress and bad habits.

“So, we're addressing mental, social and occupational health,” he said. “Healthy choice is the easiest choice.”

The South Collier YMCA has been serving community needs for more than 40 years but has spent the past two years becoming a “difference maker,” said Core Health Partners' Thein.

“Decades of research shows that education and lifestyle change are the pathway to good health.  Unfortunately, the research also shows that 80 percent of the population in the US are not self-motivated to make these changes.”

 Leaders from the Marco Y, as well as CHP and HADC participated in the shaping of clinical programs to better meet community needs.

A crucial collaborator, Thein said, is the David Lawrence Center (DLC), a leader in behavioral health.

For information on the Y's wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit or call 394-YMCA (9622). Follow on Twitter at ymcamarco; on Facebook @marcoymca, and Instagram at ymcamarco.