Adopt a Family 2014


Guess what? It’s time to start thinking about Adopt a Family again!

Every year approaching Christmas, YMCA Calgary helps many families from our YMCA programs by coming together to purchase gifts for families in need.

This week, you will see different displays pop up in each YMCA branch. The displays will contain details about each family (genders and ages) and a listing of their needs and suggested gift ideas.

Here’s how you can help:

1. Check the display for each family’s needs or gift suggestions
2. Take the tag(s) that describes the item you would like to donate.
3. Buy the gift(s).
4. Bring your tag and unwrapped item to Member Services.
5. YMCA staff will wrap and deliver gifts to the families in time for Christmas.

The families the YMCA helps are gathered from several Community YMCA Programs including YMAP (YMCA Achievement Program), Aboriginal Programs and Services, LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada), and Outreach.

Thanks very much for helping out in your community and let the spirit of giving begin!

For more information or to donate, contact your YMCA Branch today.

*Please note: All 2014 Adopt a Family families have been selected.


Weighted Hooping Free Demo Class

Remember the fun you had with a hula hoop as a child? Now you can rediscover your inner child and get a great workout with a weighted hoop! Join us Monday, November 24 5:15-6:15pm to try this exciting new class for free. Please arrive early as space will be limited. We will begin hand-stamping to reserve places at 4:45pm.

LINC Gets Heart Healthy with U of C Nursing Students

A group of University of Calgary Nursing students has joined forces with YMCA Calgary to make an impact on the health of newcomers in the Northeast. After two successful semesters working together last year, we have been lucky enough to partner with the Nursing students again as they complete their Community Health Practicum at the Saddletowne YMCA.

The focus this semester has been on heart health, specifically a good diet and regular exercise, and how that can prevent diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. The nurses have created a four week lesson full of great activities and important information to improve the health of our community. The students and instructors have responded enthusiastically to the lessons, and are eager to learn more!

During the first week, the nurses introduced heart rate and pulse; by the end of the lesson, the LINC students had practiced checking both their resting heart rates in the classroom and their target heart rates after some light cardio.  The lesson also incorporated YMCA fitness staff, who taught the class how to use various machines on the weight floor safely. The nurses discovered that the students were very interested in using the machines; this opportunity helped the LINC students feel more confident using the gym.

In the second week’s lesson, the focus moved more toward a healthy diet, including the importance of regulating the intake of sodium, fat, sugar, and processed foods. Once again, the classes visited the gym together, which reinforced the previous week’s lesson about the importance of regular exercise and how it relates to heart health. This also gave the LINC students and nurses a chance to chat informally about their health as they walked the track together.

After two weeks together, the nurses have focused on outcomes related to the prevention of hypertension, as well as building a foundation of knowledge around a healthy lifestyle and healthy diet. By setting positive examples, building relationships, and incorporating fun activities into the lesson to keep the LINC classes engaged, the nurses have done an excellent job working toward these outcomes. The students have tangible learning to take away from these activities, and to share with their families, as they continue their journey toward a healthier lifestyle. Thank you, Nurses!

I am really looking forward to what’s next as the journey toward a more healthy community continues. We still have two more lessons to go, so stay tuned for another update from our partnership with the University of Calgary Student Nurses!

National Child Day

Thursday, November 20 is a celebration of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The theme this year is “It’s our Right to Play”.
gym kids_99619100
Children learn, develop and grow through play; in recognition of this important day, the Crowfoot YMCA is pleased to offer our Pre-school Drop-in Gym free for the community. Please join us between 11:30am and 2:15pm for an active and fun time.

2015 Winter Camp at Camp Chief Hector

Come to camp in the winter!

Skate on Dew Drop Pond, carve ice from Lake Chilver and discover your camp during the winter. Play outside in the snow and on the ice – skate, hike and build snow forts. Then come inside to warm up and enjoy a satisfying meal. Bring warm clothes, skates and a helmet, bedding, toiletries and pyjamas. Bring nordic (cross-country) ski gear if you have it.

Winter Camp 325

Winter Camp | 10-13Y
Camp Chief Hector YMCA
Jan 30 – Feb 1, 2015 | 7pm Friday – 1pm Sunday

Fees include shared, indoor accommodations, meals, and activities.

*Return transportation is available from the Crowfoot YMCA in Calgary at no additional cost.

To register, call 403-269-6156 or 1-866-430-9622.

Caring and Respect Shine Within YMCA Child Development Centres

Young children are naturals when it comes to giving hugs and expressing their fondness for the special people in their lives. They are also very willing, and able, to contribute to the happiness and well-being of others through their kind actions.

Children aged 19 months – 6 years attending licensed YMCA Child Development Centres learn about and practice our four core values – respect, caring, honesty and responsibility. Caregivers provide opportunities for children to practice demonstrating these qualities as well as identify and celebrate situations in which children have done so.

The holiday season easily lends itself to providing ways for all of us to demonstrate the core values of respect and caring. Our childcare centre staff, volunteers and children support this by –

  • hosting family events so families can connect with one another
  • having children and caregivers work together to create seasonal room and centre decorations
  • having children prepare thoughtful cards and gifts for others
  • supporting families in need through branch and centre initiatives such as Adopt-a-Family
  • honouring cultural differences within program activities
  • recognizing the many ways that people celebrate the season

For ideas on how to further develop core values within your child here are some examples of how children in our centres demonstrate respect, caring, honesty and responsibility.


  • Taking turns
  • Listening when someone else is talking
  • Using words to solve a problem rather than physical actions


  • Inviting another child to play
  • Comforting a friend who is upset
  • Helping another child to accomplish a task they are struggling with


  • Telling the truth even when it is hard
  • Letting a caregiver know if a toy has been broken or a piece lost
  • Learning to differentiate between their imagination and reality


  • Cleaning up toys and equipment when they are done playing
  • Storing personal items in their locker
  • Following the safety guidelines that are in place

Wishing you and your family warmth and joy this holiday season.



Winter Break Day Camps: The Colourful Side of Winter

The snow is finally here and it is beginning to feel like winter, but don’t keep that as a reason to stay cooped up indoors.  Start your planning now for the winter break and get you and your kids out of the house!

The winter break is not a time to sit at home, it is a time to run, play, and be free from a busy school schedule (it is also a great way to un-schedule some time)!  Youth between the ages of 3-13yrs can visit their local YMCA and spend their day swimming, climbing, learning new games, playing sports, making new friends, creating art…

Speaking of art, let us explore this one area a little deeper.  Everything seems so white outside right now, but what does that mean?

White: Is associated with authority, sterility, spaciousness, purity, and nausea?  White florescent light and white walls causes eye fatigue and ill feelings.


That last part doesn’t sound too good.  White light is made up of different colours though, let us teach you a bit of what they mean…

Green: Gets creative juices flowing, is the symbol for growth, both physically and psychologically, and sparks our creative side.  It causes us to think outside the box.

imgp1323Yellow: Is a mood lifter.  It has been shown to make people more lively and talkative as well as improve focus and concentration.

Red: Hurts exam scores and is associated with a fear of failure.  It is linked to success.  It is a very dynamic colour, where it has been shown to increase respiration and heart rate, intensity and energy.

Blue: Makes us feel comfortable in a room, causing people to stay longer.  It has a soothing effect, slows heart rate, and boosts your ability to think outside the box like green.

Purple: Is seen as girly, fun, and innocent.  It is just softer version of red so it is not all calming.


This is only some of the new things to explore this winter break.  Dig deeper, explore the world, get active and try something new to find your colourful YMCA Day Camp experience.  YMCAs across the city are offering Day Camps throughout the winter break from 8:30am-4:30pm, with Pre-Care and Post-Care options available.

Dates this year for camps are December 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31 and January 2.  Days are $33 for members and $37 for non-members.

Open your eyes to the world around you and let us help you explore your colourful side with the YMCA Winter Break Day Camps.  Check out our program guide here!

Get moving (partially to stay warm) and register for your YMCA Day Camp experience today!


YMCA Shawnessy Profile: Trudy Halvorsen

Trudy head shot

Name: Trudy Halvorsen

Position: Childcare Director, Shawnessy YMCA

Years at YMCA: 10 years with the YMCA, 4 years as childcare director in Shawnessy.

Describe your role:

I look after both the child care area and the child minding area. I’m the liaison between management, my team, the parents and the children. I help maintain the health and safety standards and help make sure we can meet the needs of our members and volunteers.

What made you choose the YMCA?

What it stands for. I love that there’s a solid four core values and that when we are in any situation, those four core values are displayed. I love that we’re passionate about helping kids, youth and everybody else, and that we focus on building community.

What makes the YMCA childcare different from other centres?

I think our staff sets us above and beyond any other centre. They have an amazing amount of personal experience to bring to the table, and when you add that to the training and what we stand for, it brings a strong team together to deliver quality care.

How has the YMCA positively impacted your life?

I’ve brought my children up on the four core values – respect, responsibility, honesty and caring. There’s also the drive to want to be a part of something bigger than standard childcare. At the YMCA, we have the opportunity to do so much more in the community.

What has your best experience here been?

I have two. My general story with the Y is one. I opened the childcare centre at the Y in 2002 and then went on maternity leave in 2004. I didn’t come back right away, but when I was ready to come back in 2012, it just so happened that the person I trained to take over my position was leaving to raise her small family, so I applied and ended up getting the position. Not many people end up in the same job, same desk and the same position after they’ve left for a few years. I think it speaks to how I feel about the Y because I honestly don’t think I would work anywhere else in childcare.

My other best experience is the feedback about the impact we make as a team. We see it when a child is able to stack 10 blocks this week when last week they could only stack five, or when a child realizes that two plus two is four. It’s that light bulb going off.

What is your favourite thing about working at the YMCA?

It’s different every day. I’m excited to work with the people that I work with, they’re a fun group of people. Our team here is absolutely phenomenal. Not just in childcare but the whole team within the Shawnessy Y.

What would you say to someone thinking about joining the Shawnessy YMCA?

You are about to experience something incredible, so be open to what we have to offer and the experiences you’ll gain here.

A Parent’s Perspective of the Eau Claire Child Development Centre

Contributed by Michelle Whitney

Emilia with her Mom, Michelle, in front of her new school

Emilia with her Mom, Michelle, in front of her new school

My daughter, Emilia, started kindergarten this September. It was a bitter sweet moment. She has been a cherished part of the Eau Claire daycare and we both miss the daycare that was her second home. Both of us started our day warmly greeted by staff and made to feel like we were welcomed and belonged.

Various stations would greet the children; some days it was a dress up, circus, restaurant or a veterinary clinic. Other days the children would get their bathing suits on for swimming lessons and pool play time. Children participate in outdoor activities either on a field trip or on the outdoor play structure. My daughter loved field trip days – she travelled to the zoo, Home Depot, pet stores, the library and even a farm! Tanya, her teacher, loves the park and Emilia would regale me with the great adventures they had.

Below freezing days would see the children upstairs in the YMCA gym participating in games and performing tumbling activities. Plus 15 adventures ensured everyone stayed warm but had the opportunity to get moving.

I loved the open door policy – I would travel upstairs and have lunch with my daughter and her friends and teachers. Communal meals and snacks were such an important part of socializing.

The daycare follows the YMCA Playing to Learn philosophy which, as an educator, I find to be an effective way to engage and educate children. Children would express an interest in an activity and the rest of the week would be centred on that activity. For example, the children were interested in babies. Tanya brought in baby food for the children to taste test, which proved to be quite funny. The children studied a baby’s actions to determine it’s needs, learned about human development and about safety. This activity also taught the children about empathy.

My daughter was very well prepared for kindergarten. Children thrive on structure and stable environments. She takes pride in knowing that it is appropriate to put your hand up if you would like a turn speaking in a group. She understands the importance of ‘indoor’ and ‘outdoor’ voices. She can write her name, knows her alphabet and can count to twenty. Fine and gross motor skills were practiced at the YMCA through a range of play-based activities. She was allowed to freely express her imagination and felt safe in taking risks. Through physical activity she has become agile and confident.

I would highly recommend the Eau Claire YMCA centre to any parent. In fact, I was responsible for referring a parent whose child starts next month. The staff are well trained and professional but are also warm and empathetic. They do not hesitate to smother my daughter with hugs when they see her come back for a visit. I was confident that if she scraped her knee she would be gently snuggled and her hair stroked until she felt better. After all, as a parent this is all we want for our child – to know that they are loved.

YMCA Calgary operates licensed Child Development Centres in our Eau Claire, Saddletowne and Shawnessy locations. We are preparing to expand our impact with new centres in YMCA facilities in Quarry Park, Rocky Ridge, and Seton. These amazing new spaces will help us support young children to belong, grow and thrive!