The new year is a time to get started on the right foot by focusing on what really matters and making a plan for success. The same is true for the Y, and we've got big plans for 2017.
Regardless of whether you think New Year’s resolutions are a good practice or not, if you are anything like the YMCA team, you are always setting goals, looking for ways to improve and dreaming big dreams.
2017 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for the Y and we want to tell you a little bit of what’s in store:
Help children develop physical literacy skills
We are excited to report that the Y is launching a children’s physical literacy program this year! Now, the Y has been in the business of physical activity for more than 130 years, but the time has come to support the development of physical literacy skills so that more kids can have the confidence to be physically active throughout their lives. This program will also be offered as a new and integrated component of the Y swimming programs. What is physical literacy you ask? Click here for a definition. Want more information on physical literacy? Click here for great resources provided by Active for Life. Stay tuned for details about this exciting new program.
Make it easier for you to register for YMCA programs
We launched our new website in 2016 so that you can participate in everything your Y has to offer. This year we are launching a new online registration system for numerous YMCA programs that will make it easier for you and your family to participate. In the long term, this new system will provide you with dozens of new ways to manage your membership and other Y programs online. In the short term, we will launch the system in stages to ensure your access to Y program registration is consistent. More information to come later this year.
Add more YMCA Child Care spaces
The need for high quality child care is rising and the Y is always working on adding more spaces so that all kids can be healthy, resilient and get a good start in life. On January 3rd, we opened 45 new spaces––25 school age and 20 preschool spots––at the Little Rae YMCA Kids Club and Preschool. Later this year, we will open 100 or so spaces in other underserved neighbourhoods. Want to learn more about YMCA Child Care? Click here.
Expand preventative health programming for adults and seniors
The Y has been helping thousands of people pursue a healthy life each day. Unfortunately, chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancers and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety are on the rise, especially as our population ages. In response to these trends, the Y is both strengthening its prevention programming and developing specific programs for adults and seniors to help them manage their chronic health conditions to stay healthy and to lessen the impact of their disease.
Provide more access to life-enhancing programs
Through your generous donations to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, we are able to provide financial assistance to children and families each year who otherwise would not be able to afford the YMCA’s life-enhancing programs. In 2017, we will continue to breakdown financial barriers to these important programs through continued financial assistance as well as increase access to programs in underserved communities across the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Sunshine Coast.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we have planned for the year. We have so much more in store. In all cases, we will continue to focus our efforts in three areas.
- Supporting vulnerable children and families
- Promoting healthy living
- Fostering belonging and connection
The Y cares about the same things you care about: raising healthy and resilient kids, ensuring youth feel confident and supported, and helping people feel healthy and connected to others in the community. We’re always looking for new and improved ways of making these goals a reality.
What are your resolutions for 2017? Tweet us @GreaterVanYMCA
Have you conquered the 10 km Sun Run? Are you ready to take the next step? At just over 21 km, a half marathon is more than just a simple Sunday jog. You’re going to need some preparation!
We asked some of our experts for advice for first-time half marathoners about what to expect and how to prepare.
Stephen Grady, YMCA of Greater Vancouver, Director of Information Technology
YMCA Volunteer Fitness Instructor, completed over 20 (!!!) Ironman distance triathlons
Running a marathon is easy, it’s the training that is hard! You have to enjoy the process and remember what motivated you when you first started. If you are at risk of injury, think about trying a cross-training program like CycleFit to help you with your cardio. However, it’s not a substitute for road kilometers.
Don’t set a time goal for your first race. Just crossing the finish line is an accomplishment. Most people want to run more than one after they finish.
Garth Kennedy, Tong Louie Family YMCA, Manager of Health and Fitness
Two Ironman Triathlons, with many half Ironman distances
Set realistic goals for yourself. It’s your race; so don’t be influenced by what someone else did on their first race. Find your own path.
Think about trying a walk/run plan for your race. There are some great apps and programs to help you. Sometimes, a walk/run combination can even be faster than a run-only plan.
You will be surprised how much stretching your body will need when training. Make sure you drop into one of our Yoga classes for some dedicated stretching time.
Find a compatible workout partner. Not just someone who has the same goals as you, but someone who you will enjoy training with. It’s much more enjoyable when you race together.
Stacey Stewart, Manager of YMCA Healthy Heart
Six (!!) half marathons
Finding a good running clinic or program can make a big difference. Not only will they provide guidance on training but it’s much more fun to run with a group.
It’s always hard to find the time to train, so lunchtime and after work drop-in group fitness classes at the Y that feature cardio are great. The step classes and bootcamp are my favourite.
The cold rainy days of running are tough, but it’s all worth it when you cross the finish line.
David D’Arge, Rackets & Runners
From an equipment perspective, you should start looking for a pair of shoes before you begin your training. You don’t want to get derailed by a preventable injury. Also, your first pair of running shoes might not be the right ones for you. If you are doing a typical half marathon training program, you’ll probably need a new pair of shoes a few weeks before the race to make sure they perform properly.
For a 10 km race, you can drink water before and be fine. For anything longer, you will need a plan for nutrition and hydration. Talk to other runners and see what they are doing and figure out what works for you. There are lots of gels and water bottle options if you decide to go that route.
If you decide you want to give a half marathon a try, members of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver receive a 10% discount when they register. Go to http://bmovanmarathon.ca/ and enter in code TEAM10YMCA2017
With the holiday season just behind us, who says that those warm and fuzzy feelings can’t last all year? Charities count on year-round support to be able to run sustainable programs. So help yourself and your community by making giving back a year long resolution for 2017.
Approximately 82% of all Canadians make a charitable contribution each year. We donate our hard-earned money for many reasons and to many great causes - not only because it feels good, but because we care deeply about supporting our community.
Here are a few tips on how we can keep the “spirit of giving” alive year round:
Build philanthropy into your family life
There are many benefits to teaching our younger generations the importance of giving back. They learn responsibility, develop empathy for others and understand that their actions can have a positive impact on their community. No donation is too small—encourage your kids to donate part of their birthday money or allowance to a charity that helps kids just like them.
Become a monthly donor
Making smaller contributions each month is easier than a one-time lump sum gift. Monthly giving is all around easier and more efficient for both parties involved, not to mention that your ongoing support every month adds up and makes a big difference!
- Did you know that you can visit your local YMCA facility and add a charitable donation to your monthly membership fee? Your donation will help others get access to the YMCA so they too can feel happier and healthier in 2017.
- Donate online—it’s quick, easy and your contribution can immediately get to work helping children, youth, families and seniors reach their potential.
Give your time
The spirit of giving isn’t always a financial commitment. There is a great need in many organizations for volunteers who can commit their time and talent to help out. Non-profit organizations couldn’t do what they do without the amazing support of their volunteers.
Plan your own fundraiser!
Still have those cans and bottles lying around from your holiday celebrations? Take them to the recycling depot and donate the proceeds to charity! Maybe you want to host a dinner party in support of a charity in the comfort of your own home or plan a golf tournament for your colleagues like our friends at Citywide Mortgage. The possibilities are endless!
If you want to learn more about how your gift can make an impact in your YMCA community,
or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Be honest. How many hours of Netflix did you watch over the holiday season? How many Instagram stories did you post of your kids playing in the wet and wonderful snow? How much time did you spend scrolling through Boxing Day deals on your phone? For most of us, it probably adds up to more hours than we care to admit.
Screen time is a part of our daily lives. We do everything on our smartphones, smart televisions or computers. And there are plenty of health studies out there that talk about the risks for kids and adults associated with spending too much time in front of a screen. For most of us, unplugging completely is not an option. We have family that lives in another part of the world that we want to stay in touch with or we work at a computer all day or we need to use Facebook for our marketing jobs!
But there are ways that we can reduce the amount of time we spend staring at a screen, and counteract some of the negative effects it has on our health. A little can go a long way, when it comes to reducing screen time:
- Commit to putting your phone away for half an hour, then go for a walk without it!
- Get a real alarm clock! And sleep with your phone plugged in outside of your bedroom.
- Turn on your iPhone’s Night Shift option. (Android users can check out the f.lux app in the Google App Store).
- Read a real (paper) book instead of your kindle. Bonus points: walk to the nearest library and check one out!
- If you’re already watching television, try to get through a whole tv show without looking at your phone.
- Set a timer to go off every hour throughout the day, then get up from your desk and stretch every time it rings.
- Unplug during meals. Leave the TV off and put your phone in the drawer while you’re eating.
It’s the time of year when many of us take a look at our lives and set out to make some positive changes, whether it’s through New Year’s resolutions or setting goals for the year or just participating in “Dry January”. Why not build a “digital detox” into this process? You can follow all of the tips above, or try just one, or come up with your own way of reducing the amount of time you spend staring at a screen. But don’t tweet us about it. Share your experience with a friend or coworker, or strike up a conversation at the water fountain!
The cold wet weather of January makes it tough to get motivated. Especially when there’s a good game on TV. And it always seems like there’s a good game on TV this time of year. Hockey is in full swing (and the Canucks are finally finding their groove). The NFL playoffs are on. How do you choose between Sunday afternoon
couch nap football time and fitness time? Maybe you don’t have to.
Watching sports doesn’t have to be unhealthy. It can be a opportunity to burn a few calories while cheering on your team. Here are a few tips on how to be less of a couch potato and more of a couch champion.
- Break the munching habit of eating potato chips and popcorn while watching the game. Swap it for some veggies and humus instead. Scrap that frosty beverage and enjoy some water!
- Who says sports fans needs to sit down? Make some time for stretching or simply stay on your feet for the game.
- Want to make watching the game more intense? Do ten burpees every time the opposing team scores a goal or touchdown. Trust me, you don’t want the other team to score.
- Is it halftime? Between periods? Go outside for a quick jog or walk around the block
- Be an all-star. Play a family game of street hockey or touch football before or after the game.
- Invite a friend to watch the game and do some push ups together during the commercial breaks.
- Create your own touchdown celebration that incorporates jumping jacks or dance moves. Hey, if no ones watching…
- And finally, there are TVs on some of the fitness equipment at the Y. Plug in your headphones and watch the game from the elliptical or treadmill. Just try to keep your cheers and tears to a minimum in case other people are recording the game.
Have some ideas for us? Tweet us @greatervanymca
Forget all the freezing cold weather, it's time to get thinking about spring and summer break! Registration is now open to all 2017 spring and summer day and overnight camps. Don't miss out on your favourite camps or special dates, as limited spaces are available at select locations and camps.