The YMCA and you: Make a difference in your community

Whether it’s a kid learning how to swim, a young adult developing leadership skills or a senior participating in our cardiac health programming, everyone is able to access YMCA programs and services thanks to the generous support of our donors. Each year YMCA members, staff, family, friends and community members join together to support the YMCA Annual Campaign because they believe, like we do, that everyone deserves the chance to live a healthier and happier life.

Last year, through the generosity of 5,114 donors, the YMCA of Greater Vancouver was able to provide 12,647 people with financial assistance through the YMCA Annual Campaign. From a family experiencing difficult times to a vulnerable youth needing a place to build self-confidence and important life skills, thousands of individual lives have been positively impacted thanks to donors who place their trust in the YMCA to deliver quality programming that is accessible by all.

The YMCA is committed now more than ever to ensuring that nobody is ever turned away from a YMCA experience due to their economic circumstances. When you donate, you give someone access to a tangible experience that improves their life.

Join this community movement of equality and opportunity and support the YMCA Annual Campaign. Talk to a YMCA staff member at your local YMCA or  

Healthy Spring Habits 

Spring is finally here! Er, at least that's what the calendar says even though the weather might not have got the memo yet. And while you might have spring-cleaning on your to do list, the changing of seasons also provides an opportunity to brighten your mind and body with the help of some new healthy habits:

Eat clean: Cleanses and detox diets are all the rage these days, but there is actually no scientific evidence to show that our bodies need to be detoxified nor that these diets actually remove toxins. Your best bet is to take an honest look at your eating habits to see if you are making wise choices. When in doubt, follow Canada's Food Guide to ensure you get the amount and type of food recommended to meet your nutritional needs, reduce your risk for chronic disease, and increase your energy. You can also contact a dietician by dialing 8-1-1 or using HealthLink BC's online e-mail service for any questions about healthy eating, food or nutrition that you might have.

Sneak it In: We're all busy. Yet we can all find a few minutes in the day to squeeze in some physical activity. You can make it easy on yourself: wear sneakers to work, walk to lunch, park a few blocks away, or take a moment to do some jumping jacks with your co-workers. Even just 10 minutes of movement can improve your overall health.

Walk: Studies show that taking a 30-minute walk each day improves not only your physical health but also your mental health. On those days when you aren't able to hit the gym or go for a run, consider the simple act of a walk outside as a great way to improve your overall health and vitality.

Give it a try: Nothing freshens up your routine like trying something new. Consider snowshoeing, wall climbing, skipping rope or a new group fitness class like Synrgy. Stepping outside the norm for a bit to broaden your horizons can give you a whole new lease on fitness.

Got any tips on how to freshen your mind and body this spring? Tweet us @GreaterVanYMCA

Why we need to talk to kids about race

Let’s face it: talking about race can be tough. It’s even more difficult when you’re discussing it with a child. Many adults avoid these sorts of “sticky” conversations — due not only to concern about a child’s mental preparedness to handle the complexities of the topic, but also because of discomfort with the topics of race and racism.

But treating race as if it were a four-letter word to be avoided does children more harm than good. Notions that children “don’t see race” — or are, in other words, colourblind — are simply inaccurate. Since the Clarks’ landmark Doll Test experiments in the 1940s, studies have continued to reaffirm claims that kids have the capacity to notice race, even as infants, and are conscious of racial stereotypes.

While it is important to teach children to judge people, as Dr. King proclaimed, “not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character,” talking about difference is just as crucial. Avoiding discussing race and racism with your child can leave them feeling confused about the subject and cause them to form their own conclusions, which may be grossly misinformed. In fact, research has shown that if children are given the opportunity to have conversations about race, they have fewer prejudiced views. If we want a world free of discrimination, having these difficult talks with our kids is a step in the right direction.

Making space for healthy dialogues about race also helps to better prepare children to live in a multicultural society. Because racism still persists throughout the world, your child might witness acts of racial basis — or be the target of discrimination themselves. Educating children about systemic racism, the ways in which race can shape people’s life experiences, and how to defend against prejudice can serve as a buffer to the harmful psychological effects of racist experiences.

Whether you’re watching television, scrolling through your Twitter feed, or reading the newspaper, these days you’re likely to find plenty of talk about race and racism. And while there’s no easy way to address issues of race with your kids, here are a few strategies that can help you approach the conversation with confidence:

1. Stick to the facts

Provide kids with factual, age-appropriate information, and avoid statements that ignore rather than address the issue of racism — such as “we’re all the same on the inside” or “I don’t see colour.” Although you should speak openly and honestly about race with children, refrain from using fear-inducing language, as it may cause them to feel bias toward others.

2. Make use of children’s literature

Children’s books that tackle race and racism are great resources to employ because they humanize the abstract nature of these issues. They speak about race in a manner that is relatable for children, which makes it easier for parents and kids to have meaningful conversations about difference and discrimination.

For children who are visible minorities, literature that focuses on race can teach them how to cope with and understand the racial prejudices that they encounter in life. By offering characters that kids can identify with, these books show children that they’re not alone in their experiences of discrimination.

3. Look for teachable moments

When attempting to provide kids with clarity about sensitive subjects, talking often is crucial. One way to keep the conversation about race going is to grab hold of moments in everyday life and use them as springboards for learning. For example, you and your child can discuss why it’s such as monumental event for Viola Desmond to be featured on the Canadian $10 bill, or explore controversies like the recent U.S. travel ban. You don’t need to discuss every hot-button issue, but you should strive to normalize race talk in your home.

This post written by Sasha Smith was originally published on the YMCA of Greater Toronto Blog. 

New Alternative Suspension site opens in Coquitlam 

This past Friday, the YMCA officially launched the new Alternative Suspension program site in Coquitlam. Joined by program partners, donors, students and community representatives, the launch event celebrated the successful new partnership between the YMCA and the Coquitlam School District, benefiting many students in the Coquitlam area.

The YMCA Alternative Suspension program is a preventative program that provides immediate support for students who have been temporarily suspended from middle and high school. School suspensions and other disciplinary measures are early indicators of a student’s potential to disengage from school. The program’s objective is to counter these risk factors and decrease school dropout rates. Students are supported through structured programming that increases their personal growth, motivation, self-awareness and academic performance. The YMCA Alternative Suspension program in Coquitlam is the third program location, joining the Abbotsford and Surrey School Districts.

The YMCA of Greater Vancouver wishes to acknowledge the generous and continued support of the CKNW Orphan Fund and Coast Capital Savings who have made the Alternative Suspension service sites in Greater Vancouver possible.

Get your Boots in gear! 

Are you still seeing snowflakes in the weather forecast? Does it look like an indoor workout is in your forecast? Have you tried YMCA Bootcamp yet? It’s a high cardio group fitness class with tons of variety.

What makes YMCA Bootcamp unique, is that it's a powerhouse class for strength, endurance and agility. Hey, maybe even burn off a little stress while you’re at it!

If you’re not sure group fitness classes are for you, the right class might take your workout to the next level. What many people don’t tell you, is there are huge benefits to working out in a group.

Nothing motivates you like working out in a group setting. While you might skip your last few reps during a solo workout, seeing everyone else in your class push through will inspire you to keep going, too.

It’s a Bootcamp instructor’s job to keep the class interesting. You’ll alternate between cardio and muscle conditioning, partnered and solo exercises, and moves that use equipment and body weight to ensure you’re always challenging your muscles in new ways.

Want to try this class with a friend? Even if they’re not a member of the Y, they can sign up for a free day pass at www.trytheYMCA.ca. If they decide to join before March 15th, they will receive a free month of membership.

Registration now open for Women’s Weekend June 2nd-4th

Ditch the traffic, noise and to-do lists and dive into the lush nature of Howe Sound for a weekend escape designed especially for women. Taking place at the serene YMCA Camp Elphinstone, Women’s weekend kicks off with a wine and cheese social Friday evening and wraps up Sunday afternoon.

This retreat allows time to relax and put yourself first amidst the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Choose from a variety of relaxing and exciting activities such as yoga, peaceful canoe excursions or massages. Adventurous options will be available, including high and low ropes courses or rock climbing. Back by popular demand, this year the weekend will also feature a clothing swap.

 

Join us for some well-deserved pampering and relaxation!