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Volunteers: the backbone of the Y

April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week in Canada. We’re always amazed and inspired by people who donate their time, energy and passion to help out in causes they care about.

Case in point? Here at the YMCA of Greater Vancouver, we’ve got over 700 volunteers who do everything from teaching fitness classes, fundraising for special events, mentoring young people, reaching out to help those in need and much, much more. Our volunteers are the backbone of what we do and their dedication makes it possible for us to build healthier communities together.

Meet just a few of the great people who make the Y special:

Liz Beresford, Langara Family YMCA volunteer

Liz has been a proud YMCA volunteer for more than 30 years. This highly certified fitness enthusiast teaches pilates, step, yoga and pretty much anything else related to group fitness. Liz says she loves being fit and working out and it gives her joy to inspire others to stay healthy. While Liz has taught classes at various community centres and other gyms in the past, the spirit of the Y is what moves her most: “It’s a completely supportive and collaborative environment. It’s a place where people can achieve their best selves and I am proud to be a part of it.” We’re glad to have you on the team, Liz!

Sue Holtby, Chilliwack Family YMCA volunteer

This incredibly dedicated dynamo is a former YMCA board member. For the past 17 years, she’s been volunteering her time to train and teach others to become fitness instructors. In addition, she’s been leading fitness classes for more than 30 years and still teaches three times a week. She’s constantly recruiting new volunteers and helps facilitate workshops whenever she can. When she’s not busy at the Y, she’s working at her day job as an equestrian dressage trainer and breeder. Talk about leading a full life! Thanks Sue for all you do.

Keegan Jensen, YMCA Camp Elphinstone volunteer

Keegan Jensen is originally from Rotorua, New Zealand. He came to Canada in order to expand his horizons before he returns home to pursue further education. His goal was to try new things, meet new people and push himself to the limits. Keegan says Camp Elphinstone has been the perfect spot to achieve his objectives. “In the month I’ve been at YMCA Camp Elphinstone, I have learned so many new skills, built lasting friendships and definitely challenged myself - all while spending time and helping young people on a beautiful spot on the Sunshine Coast. What luck,” he says. We’re happy you’ve joined us, Keegan.

Chi Ching, Immigrant Services and Family Development Centre volunteer

Originally from Singapore, Chi now volunteers with Immigrant Services and the Family Development Centre at the Robert Lee YMCA. Chi is ready and willing to take on any role, bringing her intelligence and enthusiasm to every task, whether it's helping children learn and play, writing Conversation Club guides, or promoting programs through community outreach. Chi says, "The YMCA provides me opportunities to learn new things I did not get the chance to do when I was teaching at the university in Singapore. It’s a pleasure to give back in the country and place that has done so much for me and my family.” We appreciate all that Chi does to make the Y a welcoming place. Thanks Chi!

Priya Dhaliwal and Nikkita Dhada, Tong Louie Family YMCA volunteers

Priya and Nikkita joined the YMCA in late 2015. While they first expressed interest in doing administrative work, they ended up getting involved with children and youth instead. They now volunteer with YMCA Youth Leadership Development at the Guildford Recreation Centre and they’ve been a fantastic addition to the program. Their sunny personalities and energy have brightened the lives of the children around them and we’re thrilled they are a part of the YMCA family.

Try the YMCA 5 Days and 5 Ways!

Spring is here and it’s an excellent time to try something new at the Y! Ever wondered what all those people are doing smiling and dancing around in the gymnasium? Could be a Zumba® or Belly Dancing class. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Give it a try!

Maybe you’ve seen a large poster in the fitness centre with a bunch of writable labels on it? Feel free to grab alabel and share your own five ways that you enjoy using at the Y!

Haven’t discovered all of your five ways yet?  We will feature some of the ways to be active at the Y over the next two months. Ask someone from our fitness team for specific information about each of the classes.

  • April 11 - 19: Aquatics classes – Aquafit and Lane Swimming
  • April 18 - 24: Cardio programs – Bootcamp, Muai Thai Kickboxing
  • April 25 - May 1: Cycle programs – Power Cycle and Sweat Cycle
  • May 2 - 8: Child, Youth & Family programming – Active Games, Multi-Sports and Indoor Family Playground
  • May 9 - 15: Stretching – Yoga and Pilates
  • May 16 - 22: Dance drop-in classes such as Zumba®, Bollywood dancing and Hip Hop dancing
  • May 23 - 31: Strength Classes – Synrgy & Bootcamp

The best part is that all of these classes are included in your membership! Check out our online schedules to find a time that works for you. 

Find your schedule!

It's been one month since we launched You may have noticed that with the new site, there are a few changes to how you find schedule information. As with any web change, there will always be a bit of getting used to a new system. But don’t panic, we’re here to help you find the schedules you’re looking for and we think you’ll come to love’s dynamically generated schedules!

There are a couple of places to find schedule information on the new site. The quickest and easiest way is through the schedules section. You can access it by clicking on schedules on the main navigation bar at the top of the page. If you’re on your phone, click on the red navigation button on the top right hand side of the screen.

I Can’t Find the Pool Schedule!


The PDF Grab n’ Go Pool Schedule is now called the “Aquatics Schedule”.  You can access it through the main schedules page. Click on the link for your membership center and you’ll be taken to a page that has all of the schedule information laid out in a weekly view. Aquatics is the first section at the top of this grid. You can scroll down to see the Health & Fitness and Child & Family Development schedules on this same page. Want to print off the Aquatics schedule on it’s own? Select “Aquatics” from the second drop-down menu on the top left, wait for the page to load and then click the “download” icon on the top right.

I don’t want to know about all the swim lesson times, just tell me when Lane Swimming is!

No problem! You can also access schedule information about a specific program (in this case, lane swimming) through the “Find a Program” search. Click on “Programs” through the main site navigation. From the drop down menus in the Find a Program box select “Aquatics”. You can refine your search results further through the “Sub Category” drop down – let’s choose “Swim Times”.


Next click “Find a Program”. You’ll be taken to a page where you can see all the options for programs under “Swim Times”. Next to “Full Lane Swim”, you can then click the “Show Schedules” button to see all the times and locations where lane swimming is offered.

Ok great but what happened to the Gym Schedule?

Good question! You can access the Health & Fitness schedule in the same way as the Aquatics schedule: through the main schedules page, selecting your location and either scrolling down to find the Health & Fitness section or selecting it from the second drop down on the top left. The weekly grid view includes location information about where each fitness program is offered (such as the gym!).

If you are looking for Open Gym times or other drop-in gym activities, you can find that through the Program page by selecting Health & Fitness and Sports & Recreation in the Find a Program drop downs.

This is helpful, but I'm still having trouble finding what I'm looking for!

No problem. If you need some more help navigating the website please give us a call at 604.320.5809 or ask someone at the membership services desk. If you'd like to provide feedback on your experience using the site please email We love hearing from you! Your feedback is vital as we continue to refine our new website and make it into the most useful tool possible. 

So you’ve graduated, now what?

As longer days and sunny skies start making a welcome return, soon-to-be grads may be more inclined to bask in their new freedom at the beach or on that warm patio (aka wa

tering hole), rather than working on their resumes or attending job interviews. And who would rightfully deny them that, after years of drab classrooms, libraries, and endless essays and exams. Like a bear exiting hibernation mode, the temptation to transition from school to work life at a leisurely pace, balancing napping with happy hours, may be pretty enticing.

It may not be until parents start dropping those not-so-subtle hints about ‘paying your way’ or leaving the newspaper open to the apartment rentals section that it hits: I’ve just graduated, I have no work experience in my field, and I have no idea what my job prospects are. #yikes (if you don’t know what that pound symbol is doing there, just talk to a recent grad)

The transition between post-secondary studies and full-time employment can be tough–especially for new grads looking to find work in their field of study. Look at any job posting and it’s not the education requirement that’s the issue—it’s the two or three plus years of practical experience that presents the major stumbling block. Many grads settle for entry-level positions just to get their foot in the door, in hopes that establishing some hands-on experience will lead to positions that match their qualifications.

Recent UBC grad Ashton Louie, landed a role as Marketing Director at GradsLikeMe, a Vancouver-based online career platform for young job seekers, after participating in a subsidized post-secondary employment program. “Young job seekers are struggling to kickstart their careers,” says Louie, “I was lucky enough to find my job with the help of a local wage subsidy program for BC employers and recent post secondary graduates. Subsidy programs and career networks are exactly what grads need to find valuable opportunities, and what businesses need to improve their millennial hiring and make a positive impact on Canada’s employment landscape.”

The Y is pleased to offer a program just like the one Louie found, the YMCA Post-Secondary Youth Internship program. This federally funded initiative supports recent graduates secure meaningful employment related to their degree or diploma. By partnering with local businesses across the Lower Mainland, Y staff negotiate work placements and employers receive financial support when hiring recent graduates. It’s a win-win situation.

To learn more, contact, 604-685-8066 or 

YMCA Healthy Kids Day

Join us on Sunday, May 1st for some fun events! Our four membership centres and YMCA Camp Elphinstone, we will have YMCA activities for the whole family to enjoy.

YMCA Healthy Kids Day is more than just a day; it’s a movement to inspire and involve kids and parents throughout Canada to be active and develop a healthy lifestyle.

Join us at our Membership Centres, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. where we will have an indoor family playground set up, as well as open swim times available. Or come to YMCA Camp Elphinstone on the Sunshine Coast from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. for fun camp activities such as rock climbing, the high and low ropes course and archery!  


Know an inspiring peacemaker in your community? Nominate them for a Power of Peace Award!

Did you know that every year the YMCA of Greater Vancouver produces and hosts a special event called the Power of Peace Awards? The purpose of the Awards is to celebrate and recognize people in our community who are making positive change and working towards a more peaceful world.

It’s also a chance to embrace peace in all of its permutations: while stopping war and ending conflict are vital issues, peace starts at home with people who are trying to make positive change in our own communities. Stopping bullying, promoting racial and gender equality, helping newcomers feel welcome and raising awareness about mental health are just a few of the ways people are making a positive difference.

Elizabeth Sabine, Director of Community Health at the Y and an organizer for the 2016 YMCA Power of Peace Awards says: “Peace has so many meanings and yet at heart, it’s all about making our world a better place. The YMCA Power of Peace Awards gives us an opportunity to celebrate local people who are making an impact in their own unique way. If you know of someone who’s working hard to build peace here or abroad, please nominate them.”

The 2016 Power of Peace Awards takes place on November 17, 2016 at the Norman Rothstein Theatre in Vancouver. Stay tuned for details on tickets, special guests and more.