All posts by Chad Baird

Individual impact on youth in the Y7G program

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The high school drop-out rate in Calgary and Alberta is the highest in the country. Research shows that male and female students stop attending for very different reasons, but one key contributing factor is a lack of connection to their school.

Research shows that after-school programming can support the positive development of at-risk youth when it includes appropriate supervision and structure and competent qualified staff.  Practices that support the healing journey of Aboriginal youth involve addressing issues of cultural identity, social inclusion and mentoring.  They promote protective factors in youth and include Aboriginal cultural identity, adults modelling a healthy lifestyle, good physical and mental health, and healthy peer modelling.   Youth can reach their potential when connected with a positive adult, when they are connected to school and their community and when they can envision a positive future for themselves.

Our YMCA 7th Generation (Y7G) program is offered to aboriginal high school students in Calgary. It operates at three Calgary high schools and encompasses cultural teachings through storytelling, traditional activities, leadership skills, 7 Sacred Teachings, Medicine Wheel Teachings, Elders and cultural field trips.  Our partnership with the Calgary Board of Education enables the students in the YMCA 7th Generation Program to receive high school credits. It is a great opportunity for Aboriginal youth to reconnect with their heritage while building pride, a positive self-identity, and a positive connection to school.

Y7G participants connecting to culture through the program

On a blistery cold day in November 2015 the Y7G cohort gathered and made the journey to Blackfoot Crossing. This historic site is on the traditional land of the Blackfoot Confederacy and is where Treaty 7 was made between her Majesty the Queen and the Blackfoot people. There, the group was able to explore the life of the Blackfoot people before the signing of Treaty 7 – a rich cultural life that revolved primarily around their most important source of food, shelter, clothing, tools and spiritual connection with the buffalo. The group learned how drastically their ancestor’s lives changed when they no longer had buffalo to sustain their semi-nomadic way of life, and in turn how this led them to make Treaty with the federal government and its royal head of state. The chiefs and elders who were present on that historic day in 1877 had to struggle with a decision that would determine the well-being of generations to come – a true test of leadership that is difficult to imagine.

This was an unforgettable experience for both staff and participants alike. It was evident that the group was connecting with their history in ways that would not have been feasible in a classroom. The youth were able to walk the very ground where their ancestors made an enormous decision that would without a doubt have an immense impact on the generations that were to follow. Now, seven generations after this fateful event, the current generation of youth will soon step up as leaders and make decisions that will impact the next seven generations to come.
In spring 2016, the Y7G participants went to Writing on Stone Provincial Park. The bus ride to Writing on Stone was filled with chatter and laughter, as lasting friendships had flourished between the youth. This field trip was just south of Calgary where the land was still, quiet, and hauntingly beautiful. The river at Writing on Stone is surrounded by hoodoo rock formations (which legend tells were once people, petrified into the landscape), sacred hills where many had gone on vision quests, and massive rock faces filled with ancestral art. It was expressed by staff that you could “feel the land speak to you here, and it would tell you stories of the hundreds of ceremonies that had taken place in this sacred site.”

The group toured through paths that wound alongside rock faces that held the traditional ancestral art of the Blackfoot people. Incredibly this ancient form of communication was still evident, withstanding the test of time, bullet hole markings from Mounted Police target practice, and modern graffiti. Each picture tells a different story and can be interpreted many different ways by the various eyes that looked upon them. Consistently though, the images tell the story of the perseverance of Aboriginal people.

Being able to offer these types of experiential learning opportunities to our YMCA 7th Generation youth has had a tremendous impact on them. Connecting to the land, culture and history of indigenous people in a profound and meaningful way allows the youth to gain a sense of pride and self confidence in who they are. This is an essential building block for their successful transition into adulthood.

Thank you to our donors who have generously supported the Aboriginal Programs and Services department at YMCA Calgary.

  • United Way of Calgary and Area
  • The City of Calgary – Family and Community Support Services
  • MEG Energy Corp.
  • Anonymous Donor
  • The Calgary Foundation – The Moffat Family Fund
  • The Calgary Foundation – Anonymous Family Legacy Fund

 

To support YMCA Community programs, donate today.

 


Affordable Fitness in Calgary

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On January 10, 2017, Saddletowne YMCA welcomed Global Calgary and host Leslie Horton to talk about affordable fitness and what YMCA Calgary has to offer. From conquering the climbing wall to spinning on the stationary bikes to an impromptu synchronized swimming duet, Leslie Horton and our staff had a fun time talking about YMCA Calgary’s fair-priced membership and classes. General Manager Tanya Connelly-Scott and Program Manager Steve Elliot were on site to discuss the value of YMCA membership and all of what the YMCA offers to those who come in our doors.

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YMCA Calgary is more than just a gym, it is a community in which members and attendees feel welcome and supported with opportunities for the whole family. YMCA Calgary locations across the city are affordable and nobody is turned away due to financial need. This month is specifically cost-effective because we are waiving the joining fee for the month of January. That means you save up to $75! Not ready to join yet? We are also offering a seven-day free trial so you can try the Y for yourself! Additionally in 2017, for the second year straight, we will not be raising our membership price to make the YMCA fit into your budget even better.

Thank you so much to Global for joining us to discuss affordable fitness in Calgary!

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Sheena Swierenga’s announcement of the 2016 YMCA Calgary Leadership Awards

The 2016 YMCA Calgary Leadership Awards are the result of nominations from colleagues, supervisors and staff and recipients will receive $1000 for a professional development opportunity.

Before celebrating the 3 recipients, I wanted to acknowledge all the leaders who exist at YMCA Calgary. So many of you show up and deliver quality experiences to our members and program participants and lead successful teams. This is a testament to your resiliency and passion and is what makes the YMCA a place where so many belong and thrive.

This year’s three recipients possess different qualities which make them exceptional leaders, what links them all is the profound impact they have on those they serve – members, youth and their staff teams.

Maris Vazina supports indigenous youth of Calgary by creating a place for community that nurtures self esteem, self worth and healthy relationships. The result is strong and confident young people. Maris’s greatest strength comes from her ability to walk in two worlds and to support her youth as they wear a moccasin on one foot and a shoe on the other. She has built strong relationships with elders and applied their guidance and teachings into the Y7G program. Elder Randy Bottle would humbly call her “an ally, advocate and a strong woman with a heart of pure love for her youth”

Safety is a priority across the Y and the opening of an aquatics space in a new facility provides unique challenges and opportunities for leadership. Nick Mansfield, Aquatics Director at Remington faced challenges with a consistent positive and professional attitude. His quiet leadership means that every guard stepping on deck is supported and experiences a positive work environment. Nick tirelessly creates a strong sense of community by building relationships with each lane swimmer, swim lesson participant and parent. Nick’s determination and hard work continue to lead the Aquatics department at Remington to the accolades of members.

From successfully deescalating issues to creating a space for her staff team to cooperate and collaborate, Jill Harbour has made YMAP a place where staff and approximately 300 youth a week feel a sense of respect and belonging. Jill’s unwavering determination for building and improving YMAP has led to collaborations with other organizations, staff being successful in their program delivery and ensure the broader needs of the community are met. For program participants this means a program built on the foundations of trust, judgment free conversations and organically formed relationships that honour the individual. Jill’s approach to leading YMAP has made her a role model and ambassador of building healthy communities.

I am pleased to present Maris Vanzina, Nick Mansfield and Jill Harbour with the 2016 YMCA Calgary Leadership Award.


Community Outreach Participants Win Holiday Contest

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The Community Outreach Department runs a School Support Program in the Beltline area at Connaught School that provides after school support for kids aged 7-12. 

Program participants went out into their local community to learn about the meaning of community, how they can get involved and what are the needs of their community.

As part of the Lougheed House celebration this year, they held their annual gingerbread house contests with a fire hall theme.  Lougheed house and the Firefighters Museum of Calgary joined efforts for their Pomp and Circumstance exhibit.  This exhibit explores the history of Calgary fire brigade and how they have impacted the Calgary community.

Our participants worked hard on their gingerbread house during program and were given the opportunity to present their creation at the Lougheed House on November 18th 2016 to the local fire crew on site. 

Today, Lougheed House announced that the participants at the Connaught YMCA School Support program were named the winners of this year’s contest!  Their creation will be on display at the Lougheed House until January 29th 2017.

A big congratulations to our participants at the Connaught School Support program and their leaders; Owini and Wendy. 

 

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A Letter from the Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA Strong Kids Committee

gfecy-strong-kids-blogThe Fall is always crunch time for the Gray Family Eau Claire Strong Kids Committee as many of our Strong Kids donors wait until the end of the year to make their decisions. In addition to this, the current economic climate in Calgary has made this year particularly challenging. With just over two months remaining in the Campaign, uncertainty is high and we don’t know whether or not we will make our fundraising goal. We need your help in reaching this benchmark because the community need for these funds is higher than ever.

Requests for financial assistance at the Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA are up 14% year over year and the $208,000 raised to date is 15% below this time last year. Our goal is $400,000 and we are only 50% there. The goal seems difficult at this point in time but we are working hard and believing in the generosity of the community.

We are planning a couple of in-branch Strong Kids blitz days for November, focusing our efforts on people who have given in past but have not given this year and pursuing new corporate and individual Chair Round Table (>$1,000) donors.  We understand that times are difficult and resources are spread thin, but we encourage those that can to invest in the city’s children and youth – our leaders of tomorrow and our future.

On behalf of the Committee, my appeal goes out to fellow Y members, community partners and all Calgarians to help us ensure all children and youth in Calgary have an opportunity for YMCA experiences regardless of their financial circumstances. Nobody is turned away for financial reasons at YMCA Calgary because of the continued generosity of Strong Kids donors. 100% of the monies raised go to providing experiences for kids.

If you have donated, we thank you so much.  If you haven’t donated yet and are interested, please visit Member Services or click the link below to donate.  You can track our progress as we close in on year-end through the fundraising thermometer just behind the main entry desk.

I love to talk about our Strong Kids program and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. I can be reached at rjgreen@nivenfischer.com or 403-290-1900 ext. 224.

 

Randy Green

2016 Volunteer Chair

Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA Strong Kids Committee

 

 

 

 


The Lamer Family: Strong Kids Donor’s making a difference

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“It means so much to our family… I want them [Strong Kids Campaign donors] to know that they’re helping a family that really, really needed it and it’s making a big difference in our life.”

After announcing the upcoming arrival of their third child, Jason and Shelley Lamer anticipated the natural challenge of being outnumbered by their kids and planned for the extra commitment. What they never could have planned for was Shelley’s stage three cancer diagnosis, just two weeks after the birth of their youngest child.

“Things started moving quickly because I have Stage 3 breast cancer, an aggressive form of cancer. I did about 6 weeks of radiation every single day and all this time, I had a baby and two other kids”

Parenthood comes with its fair share of challenges, but combined with the cancer, it made the task nearly impossible. “It was very difficult for us and Jason had to handle a lot. I couldn’t help, I couldn’t do anything and I would struggle daily”

They soon realized that a YMCA membership with options for fitness programs and quality child care was necessary for Shelley’s recovery as well as their kids’ health, growth and well-being.

“My oncologist tells me that I need to do 40 minutes a day of physical activity and of course we had money problems because of my illness and the YMCA gave us a membership for a very low fee”

“In the summer, my six-year-old did two camps and swimming lessons so I was able to get some rest this summer after undergoing radiation. I was having trouble being able to take care of the kids and the YMCA also offered to watch my children in child care. I don’t want them on an iPad or watching TV and this way they are learning”

Shelley is now on the road to recovery, successfully battling her cancer every single day with a little help from YMCA Calgary and the Strong Kids Campaign donors.

“I still have breast cancer, but I’m recovering from the heavy stuff, the chemo, the radiation and the kids are doing great. I get to use the [YMCA] programs, both of my daughters are in swimming lessons and I just want to express my gratitude for it all.”

Do you want to help a family in need? Donate to the Strong Kids campaign today!

 


Masters Swim program now all year round

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What is the Master Swim Program?

The Masters swim program is a yearlong program running from September to August and covers the four competitive strokes – freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly –  in a swim club environment. Every swimmer who participated will be a registered Swim Alberta participant and have the opportunity to compete at sanctioned competitions. The workouts vary in distance and intensity.  You should be able to swim 200 meters continuously before participating in this class.  There is a mandatory additional $50 affiliation fee for this course due upon registration to register all swimmers with Swim Alberta.

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New and exciting things are happening with the Masters Swim team programing at the YMCA!

  1. The program is now yearlong running from September through August (excluding interim weeks and statutory holidays).
  2. There are two payment options. A onetime payment or, a payment schedule which allows participants to pay installments throughout the year.
  3. Upon registration, each team member will receive a YMCA Masters swim cap.
  4. There is a $50 Swim Alberta Fee that is required in September which will allow for all participants to be registered with Swim Alberta and compete as part of the YMCA team at sanctioned meets!
  5. It is our YMCA Calgary goal to host an inter-branch competition in late fall and strive towards hosting a first ever YMCA Calgary sanctioned meet sometime in 2017-2018.

Visit Member Services to set up your installment plan or register online!

 


 

swim

What is the Master Swim Program?

The Masters swim program is a yearlong program running from September to August and covers the four competitive strokes – freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly –  in a swim club environment. Every swimmer who participated will be a registered Swim Alberta participant and have the opportunity to compete at sanctioned competitions. The workouts vary in distance and intensity.  You should be able to swim 200 meters continuously before participating in this class.  There is a mandatory additional $50 affiliation fee for this course due upon registration to register all swimmers with Swim Alberta.

swimmer

New and exciting things are happening with the Masters Swim team programing at the YMCA!

  1. The program is now yearlong running from September through August (excluding interim weeks and statutory holidays).
  2. There are two payment options. A onetime payment or, a payment schedule which allows participants to pay installments throughout the year.
  3. Upon registration, each team member will receive a YMCA Masters swim cap.
  4. There is a $50 Swim Alberta Fee that is required in September which will allow for all participants to be registered with Swim Alberta and compete as part of the YMCA team at sanctioned meets!
  5. It is our YMCA Calgary goal to host an inter-branch competition in late fall and strive towards hosting a first ever YMCA Calgary sanctioned meet sometime in 2017-2018.

Visit Member Services to set up your installment plan or register online!

 


Norton Rose Fulbright and the Power of Potential Campaign

norton-rose-fulbright-logoAs a global law firm providing full business law services all over the world, Norton Rose Fulbright has deep roots in the communities they work in. In Calgary, Norton Rose Fulbright and its predecessor firm, Macleod Dixon, have had a longstanding relationship with YMCA Calgary, with a succession of partners sitting on the YMCA Calgary Board of Directors as well as assisting with pro bono and discounted legal work. The firm has also supported YMCA Calgary over the years with charitable donations from both the firm and with individual contributions from partners and staff.

When YMCA Calgary approached Norton Rose Fulbright about a donation to its Power of Potential campaign in support of the new Remington YMCA,   the law firm didn’t hesitate to make the commitment. The gift, which is recognized in the naming of the Norton Rose Fulbright Universal Locker Room in the Remington YMCA, was a good fit for the firm.

“We thought the locker room was a fitting space for our name because many of the businesses in the Quarry Park area are our clients, so they would see and recognize our name in that area,” says Norton Rose Fulbright Partner Clarke Hunter. “We believe in giving back to the communities that we work in, through both volunteerism and direct financial support,” explains Clarke; “so the donation was really just a natural fit.”

For Norton Rose Fulbright the location of the Remington YMCA within the new community of Quarry Park is just one more example of how YMCA Calgary continues to expand in ways that meet Calgary’s growing need, not just for recreation facilities, but for ways in which to grow neighbourhood connections and relationships.

“We see Quarry Park as one more illustration of the importance of the YMCA to Calgary as a whole,” says Clarke. “For us, it’s not just about fitness and buildings, but about the contributions the YMCA makes to building communities.”

 

What does the Power of Potential mean to Norton Rose Fulbright?
To us, the Power of Potential is just a way of expressing the importance of giving people the opportunity to become the best version of themselves.  This is particularly important for children and young adults in their formative years, and we know that the YMCA has many programs aimed at this objective.  


Why having a workout partner makes you more fit

 

Strong young man spotting another guy while he lifts a barbell at a gym

 

Did you know it’s proven that those who go to the gym with a friend are more motivated, drop out of the exercise routine less and work out harder. Check out these stats on the benefits of a workout partner: 

> Stanford university found that simply receiving check-in phone calls/texts from a partner increased the amount participants exercised by 78% (even after 18 months)

> Indiana University found that couples who worked out separately had a 43% dropout rate.  Those who went to the gym together had a 6.3 dropout rate.

> Another study found that those who worked out with someone more fit, increased motivation to work harder:  Groups who were told they had to hold a plank until their partner stopped, held the plank 160% longer. And 200% longer than with those doing the same exercise without a partner.

Encourage your friend or partner to join you at the gym by sharing the the two-week YMCA pass.  Available through July and August.

For more information and statistics, read the full article here


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