Donate Everyday Items to YMCA Childcare!

Have you started your Spring Cleaning yet?

YMCA Child Development Centres across Calgary are looking for recyclables that are in your homes! These items will be used for arts and crafts and will assist children in exploring creativity and imagination.

Childcare image

We are looking for the following items:

  • Paper towel rolls
  • Empty Styrofoam egg cartons
  • Milk jugs
  • Scrap materials (fabric)
  • Children’s costumes for dress-up
  • Multi-cultural items for exploration in the classroom

If you have any of these items, please bring them to our YMCA Child Development Centres at Shawnessy YMCA, Eau Claire YMCA or Saddletowne YMCA.

Risk it: Unplug and Play!

Risking it…

Take a good look at the things around you.  What do you see?  Cars have 5-star safety ratings, there are warning labels on almost every food and object, playgrounds are to be removed from schools, that little bump in the sidewalk is painted yellow, we are trying to eliminate every little health risk.  There are so many things out there to try to minimize the risk that we are exposed to every day.  Now imagine these things in nature.  On your hike through the woods, there are fences on the sides of the trails to keep creatures out, roots and rocks are painted bright colours or removed completely, signs warn you of what might be unexpected around the next bend in the trail.  It all sounds a little ridiculous, but that is what our society seems to be moving towards.  We try to minimize the risk that we are exposed to in almost every way.  We are striving for perfection.

Looking at nature, we are going at all of this the wrong way.  Adaptation by living organisms carry no goal of perfection.  Trying to eliminate risk in our lives is like trying to eliminate predation in nature. It is a bit of a ridiculous concept.  The relationships that have developed in nature over the last millions of years come from adaptations to hostile interactions.  They have created symbiotic relationships that work!  Many plants and animals have multiple solutions to deal with the problems that they are faced with.  For organisms, when there is trouble, there is no one right way to deal with it.  They expect the unexpected!

This exposure to risk has the possibility to be dangerous.  However, it keeps us alive, makes us think for ourselves, helps us to deal with everyday problems and is what makes being human exciting.  For all of us big kids, we grew up with this exposure to risk in our lives.  I know that I occasionally got hurt, but that is how I learned about the world.  It was all trial and error.  I think that this exposure to natural risk has made me into a well-rounded individual.  I feel I can make solid decisions in all aspect of my life.  What will things be like without that exposure to natural spaces and risk?  Striving to perfect our environment is taking away from a lot of the things that we all grew up with.

Un-plugging the Youth…

Youth today now have a lot less exposure to a lot of the things we remember about being young.  Youth should do dangerous things as a rule.  They ride skateboards, make jumps, climb trees, fall – sometimes on purpose to “see what happens” – play sports, get in scuffles, and make hairpin turns at breakneck speeds while dribbling a ball.  Activity and sports are dangerous, but so is just about anything that involves the human body and the laws of physics.  Let youth figure it out themselves.  You’ll be there if something goes wrong.

I say to unplug from the electronic devices, and embrace risk in your life.  Let others do the same.  Let us stop trying to perfect our world.  It just cannot be done.  Instead, let us all learn to live with the risks we are faced with.  Everything from finances and work to exercise and play.  Take from nature, and have multiple solutions to our problems.  I like to unplug every once in a while, and embrace risk in my life.  It is exciting, and is how nature has dealt with problems for millions of years.


Today is “Unplug and Play Day”.  What does that mean?  I think you should take a risk by leaving your electronic devices behind.

Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Start a garden

  • Organize a neighbourhood clean-up

  • Join a walking/running/cycling group

  • Host an outdoor BBQ

  • Help out at a local farm

  • Volunteer for a nature group

  • Go camping

  • Explore, get dirty and play in the mud!

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on how you plan to “Unplug and Play” by clicking here!

There is Irony Here

There is such irony in writing an online blog about unplugging to get out to play, but with our increasing reliance on technology and time spent with our noses in our devices, it seems like an okay medium to pass on a message.  Enough about the great irony of reading online about disconnecting from it all, it is now time for my point…

A main obstacle preventing people from unplugging and playing is the convenience and the availability of other types of entertainment.  It seems more convenient to turn on the television, the game system, the computer, or the smart phone instead of going outside to play.  You also don’t need to get dirty to watch television or play a video game.  I work with youth, and what stands out the most is that passive leisure and inactivity is becoming a habit for those of us who are growing up with technology.   This needs to change for the health and wellbeing of everyone.

In his research in 2008, R. Tagles said that “…the absence of direct experiences of natural environments appears to be a significant disadvantage in terms of development and health, and may also have a negative impact on the preservation of natural environments.”  We need these natural spaces around, for food, for activities, for industry, for the health of the planet, and most importantly our own sanity.

I do not feel the need to preach.  I do not feel the need to tell you to throw away all of your technology.  I am not going to tell you to go live in the bush for a month.  Feel free to do any of these things if that is what you wish.  What I am here to do is to share some learning about the benefits of unstructured time in the outdoors, natural areas, things that grow, living actively, and share with you the enjoyment that can be gained from creating balance in our ever technological-focused lives.

When we try to do too many things at once, as it happens so often with technology, it takes away from our relationships, health, focus, work or school, and most importantly our overall enjoyment of what we are doing.  Even what may seem like the most mundane of tasks can be enjoyable if is becomes our sole focus.

This coming Monday, March 23 is “Unplug and Play Day” used to help to recharge your soul.  It is a small step to take to help to focus on enjoyment here and now as well as help to create balance.

This day is a great idea, but I say take it one step further.  It is better to regularly take a little time to unplug and try just focusing on one thing.  Call it “uni-tasking”.  An easy way to do this is to go out and experience nature, or to visit your local recreation facility.  Leave all those gadgets at home and see how enjoyable just being outside of the house looking at the environment around can be.

For some ideas, here are my top “uni-tasks” that I do here and now:

  • Do some “soul skiing” by going for a day on the slopes (no music here);
  • Practice some nature/outdoor photography or drawing (I’m not very good, but it is enjoyable);
  • Bomb a hill on my longboard;
  • Do some gardening;
  • Climb a mountain, a rock face, a hill, a tree, a playground or anything I can possibly jump off;
  • Find a quiet spot to read or journal;
  • Simply go for a walk or long run without my phone.

I want to hear from you!  What do you do to live in the here and now?  How and where do you like to enjoy “uni-tasking”?  Comment here!


Creative Writing with LINC – Final Post

Greetings! Today is the last post in a series of stories written by Neelam’s LINC class. If you missed the beginning, here is part one and part two, to get you started. And if you have been reading from the beginning, thanks for following along! I hope you have enjoyed reading these stories as much as I have enjoyed sharing them with you.  And I’d like to say a big thank you to Neelam’s CLB 7 class for writing so creatively, and being open to sharing their stories on the blog. I am so proud of you!!

The Incredible Surprise  – by Anitha

I have a small family: dad, mom and me. My mom has 4 brothers and my father has 5 siblings. I don’t have any siblings; I am the only child to my parents. I born in Sri Lanka and my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were also born in the same country.

While I was studying for my diploma, I got married, on November 12th, 2011. I got my Canadian visa 2 years later. One day, in November 2013, I received the letter from immigration. At that time, I was in Jaffna, one of the provinces. My husband was in Canada. After that I went to Colombo from my city.  It took 10 hours to go there. I always travel at night. I always stay in my father-in-law’s house. After I reached their house the next morning, I prepared to go to the immigration office with my father-in-law. Then I got my Canadian Visa and came back home. That day I was fasting. I had to return to my home to finish my fasting, so I called my husband and asked him, “may I go to my house?” He said, “No, you don’t go to your house, you should stay at our house”. I asked why, but he didn’t tell me anything, he only said “If you want me, you can stay, otherwise if you don’t want me, you can go home.” I said, “Ok I am staying in your home,” and after that I was upset the whole day. Why did he say that?

The next day my husband called me and said, “I am in the bus station to go outside regarding my work, so you can’t send a message, because after I go outside, the signal doesn’t work properly.” The next day we had a festival, Diwali. I have to wish “Happy Diwali” to him, but I cannot. On the festival day, it was my final fasting day so I didn’t eat anything. I was so tired and angry with my husband’s parents. Time was passing, my tension increasing, I was walking from the bedroom to the living room repeatedly. At that time my husband’s aunty was watching TV in the living room. Around 3 o’clock I was in the bedroom, then aunty was running through my room and saying, “your husband is coming”. I can’t believe it. I thought “she is joking”, then at that second I couldn’t believe my eyes . My husband was in front of me (When he called me from the bus station, he actually was in the airport) . It was an incredible moment for me. Only my husband’s parents knew that he was coming but they didn’t tell me. I got the Canadian Visa, as well my husband’s surprise visit. These two things happened at the same time, so I was very happy.


Eau Claire April Basketball Tournament

BBall blonde tween with friend_63586264Eau Claire is hosting another Grade 6 Basketball Tournament! Join us on Friday, April 17th from 6:00-8:15 PM to participate. Teams of 6 will be competing in a 4-on-4 style competition.

Prizes of all sorts will be awarded to participants. In addition, the top two teams will win Eau Claire Jerseys and be awarded the opportunity to compete for the Inter-Branch Trophy at the City-Wide Championship game on May 1st. Participants will be provided with drinks and light snacks on the day of the tournament. Families and friends are invited to attend to cheer their player on!

All youth ages 10-13 are invited to participate – register now for the opportunity to represent your branch! Those who wish to participate but are not members must pay the $4.00 drop-in fee on the day of the tournament.

Participants are welcome to sign-up as a full team, as a single player, or as a partial team. We will do the best we can to accommodate teammate requests, however we cannot make any guarantees. To access a registration form, click here, or speak with a representative at Member Services. Forms must be submitted to the branch no later than Thursday April 16th!!

For more information, contact Sarah Thornton, Eau Claire Youth Coordinator at 403-781-1685 or e-mail her at sarah.thornton@calgary,

Students and Youth – It’s time to have fun and get active!

My Y Time Has Come!

 School’s almost out for the summer! It’s time to get active and well at the YMCA.

Student Memberships



City Wide Access: Students+ (18-25Y) – $267.75 | Youth (12-17Y) – $172.00 (GST is included)

South Health Campus YMCA location only: Students+ (18-25Y) – $197.00 (GST is included)

  • Valid April 1- August 31, 2015
  • Better in value than a drop-in fee if you work out at least 5 times per month
  • Includes all member benefits*
  • Can’t join for the entire 5 months? No worries… join anytime this summer as fees are pro-rated.


Students+ (18-25Y) – $53.55 per month | Youth (12-17Y) – $34.40 per month (GST is included)

South Health Campus YMCA location only: Students+ (18-25Y) $39.40 per month (GST is included)

  • No contract, joining fee or withdrawal fees for students and youth
  • Better in value than a drop-in fee if you work out at least 5 times per month
  • Includes all member benefits
  • Earn AIR MILES® rewards miles with every visit


Students+ (18-25Y) – $25.40 per month | Youth General (12-17Y) – $7.35 per month | Youth Plus (12-17Y) – $15.05 per month (GST is included)

  • Students and youth living in the same address as an Adult YMCA member can be added as a dependent for a discounted rate
  • Workout together as a family and see the benefits!


  • Every grade 6 student in Calgary can have a Free YMCA Membership!
  • Available at any YMCA Calgary location
  • Valid until August 31, 2015
  • Earn AIR MILES® rewards miles with every visit
  • Join Today

*Not eligible for earning AIR MILES® rewards miles or for April’s Lead a Friend to Health
+students must provide valid ID from an academic institution or provide an acceptance letter for Fall 2015


Visit Member Services at your YMCA location for more information and to sign-up for any of these memberships.

Free Grade 6 Memberships!

All Calgary students registered in Grade 6 receive a FREE YMCA Calgary Membership for the school year!

YMCA Calgary and the Flames Foundation for Life are excited to announce a partnership to provide free YMCA memberships to all grade 6 youth in Calgary.

Grade 6 Membership Benefits:

  • Free membership for grade 6 school year
  • Access to all 5 city-wide YMCA Calgary locations
  • Access to no-cost programs such as Adventurers (leadership training including character development, communication, volunteerism, and fundraising) and Active Y Kids (physical activity, nutrition, and goal setting) and Flames Friday & Teen Night activities
  • Advanced registration and discounted fees for programs

How does a Youth get a Grade 6 Membership?

Drop in to any YMCA Calgary location to complete a membership form for your youth (parent/guardian signature, proof of child’s grade required).

Click here for more information

LINC Stories – Part 7

Happy Monday! It’s time for a couple more LINC stories. If you missed the earlier posts, and want to read more, here is a good place to start.

My Childhood Memories – by Nazia

I am blessed to be born into a big family: my grandparents, parents, and my three sisters. We lived in a village. I remember it was full of fun, how we played different games with other children and never felt tired. I remember we played in the rain, throwing mud at each other, pretending like it’s a snowball. We went cycling and quarreled with each other, and also went on school trips and summer vacations together. It was a great time.

I also remember a family story about my cousin’s engagement ceremony. It was held on January 26th, so outside the weather was very cold. We lived in a village, but the bride’s family lived in the city, which was far away and took two hours to travel there by vehicle. So the day came and all the people were ready to attend. It was raining outside. All the people sat on the bus, excitedly enjoying music and chuckling with each other. Finally, we reached the hall and the bride’s family was already there to receive us. There were lots of people and after some time, we met our cousin’s fiancée.  She was looking very pretty. Then they wore engagements rings and took photographs. After one hour, we gathered for dinner and enjoyed our food. The weather was very bad. It started to snow, so we were ready to go back. Our relatives said, “Do not go, stay here!” but we wanted to go back home.

So we started travelling and when we reached the center point, we got stuck in the snow. We spent all night on the bus and it was very cold and frozen. The next morning, a machine come and cleaned the road and then we were able to go home. It was a very memorable day for all!


The Children’s Library – by Saima

I was born in Karachi, Pakistan. I lived my life in a nuclear family system, even though most families in my town lived in joint families. When I was growing up, I lived with only my parents and siblings in my house. My auntie’s and uncle`s family lived in another separate house.

We are seven sisters and brothers, (I am number six), and my house was full of noise. My father was a very hard-working and disciplined person, he wanted all the work done on time. My mother is a very caring and kind-hearted women.  My childhood period was wonderful, we played together and also fought among ourselves.

Many stories belong to my family, but some are very interesting. When we were ten or eleven years old, during summer vacation, we planned to make a library. One room was extra in my house and we decided to open the library in this room. We made some space for setting up books, after that we bought and arranged many books there. We gave the place the name “Children`s Library”. This was where we spent our extra time. It is a beautiful memory.

One special and interesting thing was that my elder brother wanted to loan these books for pay, because he wanted to make money from this source. We didn`t like this idea. My neighbour`s children came and borrowed the story books and returned them after 2 or 3 hours, for free mostly. I still remember those marvellous memories.

As the time passed by, we grew up and got busy with our studies and lives. All of my family members live in Pakistan except me. I have been living in Canada for one year; I miss my family and all the time that was spent together.


Shawnessy YMCA March Grade 6 Activities

Spring is around the corner and the weather is getting nicer!


I just wanted to remind you that tomorrow is our first ever drop-in soccer tournament! It will take place from 1-3pm this Saturday 14/mar/2015. We are expecting nice weather (13oC-17oC and only slightly cloudy) so we are planning to host our tournament outside near the basketball courts!20150218_175709

We are hoping to run a 5-a-side tournament with around 4 teams and subs in a round robin style tournament, everyone gets to play. There will be a small prize for the winning team but everyone should be able to have Lots of fun in the Sun!* (*if weather is poor we will play inside in GYM 1)

If soccer isn’t your thing there is also Open climb from 1-3pm with our Climbing staff & volunteers on the climbing wall.

Nstep Healthy Eating is scheduled for Saturday also, 3:30-4:30pm in the Kitchen, Please Email me with your child’s name, phone number and ANY Allergies if you would like to attend!

QUICK HEADS UP: Next Saturday (21/mar/2015 – 1:15-3pm) we have our 2nd  ever Shawnessy YMCA Basketball branch Qualifier, Don’t forget to register at member services with course code #102437! It will be lots of fun and the winning two teams will go on to represent the Shawnessy YMCA at the final tournament at Eau Claire YMCA 1st of May 2015.

Philip Perryman

Youth Coordinator – YMCA Shawnessy.

Ph. 403 256 5533 ext 284

It’s Time to Fly!


DSC_0020_revised1So the saying goes: “It’s time to spread your wings and fly!”

For me, that means leaving full-time employment with YMCA Calgary after 28 years.

Truly, it was my absolute pleasure and honour to work for such a wonderful organization. I’ve had a great journey through the first half of my career in various roles at Eau Claire and my final half at Association Services as Communications Director.

The years were full of laughs, countless fond memories, fun events and celebrations, and yes, a few sad times. This has been an incredible and unforgettable experience and I thank you for everything and more.



For anyone who’d like to keep in touch, you can find me in the following ways:

Twitter: @anteecandee
Facebook: mscslee
Linkedin: mscslee

Again, thank you so much. Please accept my very best wishes for today and beyond.

Smiles and hugs to all… It’s time to fly!

Candice oxox