Health and Wellness

Breast Cancer Awareness Initiatives     Kid's Health Initiatives


Health and wellness has been integrated into all of our programs. Each year we host the annual Mother’s Day Walk/Run to celebrate all women, especially those affected directly by breast cancer. In our young mothers’ supportive housing, we are focusing on lifestyle changes, smoking cessation, exercise, and healthy nutrition (eating local, gardening, and cooking at home).  In the Early Childhood Education Center we are working to promote kids yoga-play, healthy family foods, smoking cessation, and access to preventive care for all family members. Positive body-image activities, preventive-health workshops, and exercise classes (including yoga) are done within our Girl Power! grade-school program.

Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

Moving forward, the YWCA of Duluth is rethinking what health and wellness represents. According to the 2013 St Louis County Health Status Report, there are glaring disparities in life expectancies in Duluth. The fact that life expectancy differs from one zip-code to the next reflects disparities in wealth, education, and environments across our neighborhoods. Unbelievably, a person’s life expectancy can vary by 11 years, depending on which area of Duluth that person lives in.

Community health is created through social, economic, educational, and environmental factors. When groups face serious disadvantages and lack of opportunities in these areas, health inequities result. These inequities affect many populations in Minnesota, including the following.

  • African American and Native American babies die in the first year of life at twice the rate of white babies. While infant mortality rates for all groups have declined, the disparity in rates has existed for over 20 years.

  • Native American, Hispanic/Latino, and African American youth have the highest rates of obesity.

  • Intimate partner violence affects 11% to 24% of high school seniors, with the highest rates among Native American, African American and Hispanic/Latino students.

  • African American and Hispanic/Latina women in Minnesota are more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage breast cancer.

  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual students are more likely than their heterosexual peers to have struggles with their mental health.

  • Persons with serious and persistent mental illness die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general public.

Groups that experience the greatest disparities in health outcomes also have experienced the greatest inequities in the social and economic conditions that are such strong predictors of health.

  • Poverty rates for children under 18 in Minnesota are twice as high for children who are Asian, three times as high for Hispanic/Latino, four times as high for Native American, and nearly five times as high for African American as for white children.

  • Unemployment is highest among populations of color, Native Americans, and people who live in rural Minnesota.

  • While 75% of the white population in Minnesota owns their own home, only 21% of African Americans, 45% of Hispanic/Latinos, 47% of Native Americans, and 54% of Asian Pacific Islanders do so.

  • African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos in Minnesota have less than half the per-capital income of the white population.

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth are at increased risk for bullying, teasing, harassment, physical assault, and suicide-related behaviors compared to other students.

  • Low-income students are more likely to experience residential instability than their higher-income peers in every racial and ethnic category.

  • Native American, Hispanic/Latino, and African American youth have the lowest rates of on-time high school graduation.

  • African Americans and Native Americans are incarcerated nine times more than white persons.