The Westchester Family YMCA has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the William H. Hannon Foundation to support its PLAY (Physical Learning Activities for Youth) program in five local elementary schools.

The grant will allow students at Kentwood Elementary School, Loyola Village Elementary School, Paseo del Rey Natural Science Magnet School, Westport Elementary School and Cowan Elementary School to continue to reap the benefits of physical education through the program, Westchester YMCA officials said.

“We feel extremely fortunate to share a commitment to strengthening one of the most important foundations of our community, our children’s health and fitness, with the William H. Hannon Foundation,” said Westchester Family YMCA Executive Director Lisa D’Angelo.

Introduced at the beginning of the 2007-08 school year in response to budget cuts in education and growing rates of childhood obesity, the PLAY program provides an age-appropriate curriculum that teaches students in grades K-5 the fundamental skills necessary for them to realize the importance of physical activity and healthy eating, according to YMCA.

The program aims to increase physical fitness in youth by focusing on teamwork, fun, fellowship and skill building.—It also helps nurture peer support and family involvement, partners with teachers for training and classroom curriculum development, and contributes to a comprehensive school experience, YMCA officials say.

“This grant brings together two institutions my uncle cared deeply about — the Westchester Family YMCA and public schools in the community,” said Kathleen Hannon Aikenhead, president of the William H. Hannon Foundation. “With budget cuts hampering our public schools, the YMCA’s program brings a much needed resource at a critical time. We are proud to continue to be a supporter of the Westchester YMCA.”

Information on the Westchester Family YMCA and its PLAY program, Kimberly Hoffman at (310) 670-4316.