April 23-29th is National Volunteer Week! 

Every year the Y serves thousands of children and families across the Lower Mainland and we couldn’t do it without the support of our amazing volunteers.

From teaching fitness classes, to fundraising for special events, to mentoring young people to welcoming new immigrants to Canada and much, much, more— volunteers are the backbone of all we do here at the YMCA.

National Volunteer Week is set aside each year in April to thank and honour the people who donate time and energy to their fellow citizens. We’re always amazed and inspired by the wonderful people who give their time, energy and passion to help out in causes they care about. Without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, countless children, adults and seniors would not be able to participate in life-enhancing YMCA programs that help them reach their potential.

Thank you to our 2,300 Y volunteers who have given 95,000 hours of their time serving over 122,000 people. Making our communities stronger takes an extraordinary team effort. You are more than volunteers, you are an essential part of the YMCA family. Without our volunteer family, fulfilling our mission would not be possible.  
 
National Volunteer Week is set aside each year in April to thank and honour volunteers. Keep an eye out at your YMCA membership centre and across our social media channels as we say thank you and highlight a few Y stories from our amazing volunteers. 
 

Four outdoor summer activities to enjoy with friends

There’s no better time than the summer for kids to reconnect with their friends, and create new memories that will last a lifetime. We all know that watching a movie, strolling through the mall or hanging out at home are common ways for friends to spend time, but with all the options available to them beyond those walls there’s no reason why summer 2017 shouldn’t be one filled with unforgettable moments spent outdoors—unplugged and away from screens. Here are four activities perfect for friends to experience together:

Go on a nature scavenger hunt

Who doesn’t love a little challenge? Once the kids come up with a list of items they agree on, bring them to a cool outdoor location and that’s when the fun begins. Whether the hunt is at the beach or the park, this is a great way for friends to connect with nature, and work on their teamwork skills and patience at the same time.

Paddle the afternoon away

Canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are great activities for a small or large group of friends. They can have friendly competitions and race each other or slow things down and just get lost in a great conversation while paddling leisurely around the lake. Furthermore, one of the best parts of being on the water is the opportunity to reconnect with nature and take in all the beauty that the West Coast offers.

Ride the bike trails

Talk about a great activity that takes next to no time to prepare for. Kids just need to strap on their helmets and protective gear, hop on their bike, and let the good times roll. They’ll get in a good cardio workout while spending quality time with their friends — now that’s a win-win situation.

Get artsy

Kids don’t have to go too far to find a fun and creative project to immerse themselves in. Just equip them with lots of sidewalk chalk and block off a safe spot by the house to use as their canvas — the rest is up to their imaginations. Who knows, maybe all the street art might add a little extra curb appeal to your property?

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The YMCA knows that when it comes to having great summer experiences, the more-the-merrier approach is certainly the way to go. With that in mind, you can now register your child with a friend who did not attend a YMCA camp in 2016 and both families will receive 10% off the summer camp fees.

What’s your way?

Whether you’re new to the Y in 2017 or have been a member for years, you’ve likely found a routine that works for you. You have your favourite stationary bike or treadmill, know when your favourite drop-in fitness class is and probably have scoped out your spot for stretching. Yet variety is key to maintaining regular phyiscal activity. 

So why change things up?

Many people try to do more of the same thing instead of adding variety to their workout in order to meet their fitness goals.  The additional repetition might be doing more harm than good.  Your body might not appreciate the increased level of impact and your mind may start to get tired of the extra workload.

During our 5 Days 5 Ways promotion at the YMCA, we’re encouraging our members to try being active in different ways. Maybe you’ve seen our theme week posters in the fitness area.

Break out of your comfort zone and give something new a try! Here are our five days five ways theme weeks and some recommendations:

Aquatics Week: April 9 – 15

Deep Aquafit

Gentle Aquafit

Shallow Aquafit 

If you haven’t tried Aquafit before, you're missing a great low-impact workout.  We have passionate groups of people hopping in the pool getting exercise. Training for the Sun Run but your feet need a day off? This is a perfect addition to your training program.

Sports & Recreation Week: April 16 – 22

Badminton

Has it been a while since you’ve hit the birdie around? Don’t have a racquet anymore? No problem. We will set up the nets and can even loan you the equipment to play.

Group Fitness Week: April 23 – 29

Zumba®  - Maybe you feel like you don’t have the moves needed for dance class. Don’t worry. This is a fun class where everyone learns as they go along. You will move every part of your body to latin music!

When you’re done, feel free to tell us about it on Twitter using the hashtag #FindYourWay or write your name on the poster in the fitness area.

Know someone whose not a member who wants to try the Y? They can sign up for five free visits at www.TrytheYMCA.ca

Building Healthy Communities with a Live 5210 Playbox

Just in time for longer days and sunny skies – YMCA’s Live 5210 Playbox has been installed across from the Tong Louie Family YMCA at Panorama Village Park to encourage more family time outside.

The YMCA of Greater Vancouver, in collaboration with the City of Surrey, the Fraser Health Authority and Scope BC has recently added the Playbox to help families raise healthy children through physical activity and play! This shared community resource is filled with sporting equipment, fun activities and toys for everyone to enjoy outside when visiting the park. Such items may include:

  • Basketballs
  • Skipping ropes
  • Bubbles
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Frisbees
  • Playground balls
  • Soccer balls
  • Hula hoops

There can be a number of barriers that get in the way from living an active lifestyle. Purchasing toys and equipment or signing up for a healthy program is not always feasible for many families. Busy schedules get in the way and active family time becomes low on the priority list. The Playbox was launched in an effort to ease some of these barriers by providing free activities for everyone to use. With a goal of contributing to even more healthy and thriving communities, plans to launch another Playbox near the Langara Family YMCA is in the works.

You can now access the Surrey Playbox for free any time during park hours.

Discovery starts here: Niya’s story

In Grade 11, Niya was stressed out, lost and confused. She was coasting at school and had a job she didn’t like. She felt like she was being left behind.

Niya’s guidance counsellor suggested she sign up for a leadership program at the YMCA. Over the next year, she learned about teamwork, problem solving and getting involved in her community. She made true friends and says her whole life has changed.

At the end of the program, Niya was voted valedictorian. Now she’s a camp counsellor at the YMCA! She’s doing things she never thought she’d be able to do. She has direction and is excited to start college.

The Y has helped her discover the person she has always wanted to be and given her the support and confidence to build a bright future.

Want to know more about our youth leadership programs?  
Interested in becoming a camp counsellor?  

Are you looking to enter a race this year? Do you want to support a great cause?

The YMCA of Greater Vancouver is now an official charity partner of the BMO Vancouver Marathon on Sunday, May 7th!

The BMO Vancouver Marathon ranks as one of the top destination marathons in the world and takes participants along beaches, through natural parks, and along the Seawall. Whether you are brand new to running or are a seasoned competitor – there is something for you. Sign up for a Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 8 km, Relay or even a 2.5 km Kids Run for 5-12 year olds.

 
How to Sign Up

Visit the website above and click on the “Charity Runners” button. Choose your registration type by selecting your race.

Under “Select a charity to fundraise for”, choose the YMCA of Greater Vancouver.

By signing up as a charity runner, you will receive a 35% discount on your registration fee if you raise a minimum of $300 for the YMCA Annual Campaign, helping more kids, families and seniors reach their potential through access to proven YMCA programs.

Visit the BMO Marathon website for further details. Don’t forget to share with your family or friends who might be interested!