All posts by Chad Baird

Ukraine Update from Tanis Cochrane

 

I spent September 20th to 30th in Ukraine as part of our International partnership with YMCA Ukraine. I participated in their Annual General Meeting of all YMCAs in the country, met with other International partners, and visited some local YMCAs.

 

The situation in Ukraine remains relatively unchanged in the past year. Crimea was seized from Ukraine in March 2014 by Russia, and the eastern region of Ukraine remains an active war region. This has resulted in approximately 1 million people being displaced from these areas of Ukraine to the western region of the country. This has created an increase in demand for support services for these internally displaced people. The YMCAs in western Ukraine are responding to these needs by offering programs for children and youth, especially camping programs during the summer.

 

The context for YMCAs in Ukraine is much different than here in Calgary. YMCA Ukraine has existed for only 24 years and there are 25 local YMCAs, only 7 of which have physical spaces they can utilize for programming purposes. Despite the challenges within the country and within the YMCA, some of the local YMCAs are growing and are becoming stronger each year.

 

I visited the Volyn YMCA in Lutsk, a small city of 250,000 people. This YMCA is currently raising funds to continue renovating an old Cinema that they hope to convert into a youth centre. They have some useable space within the building now, and a group of children and youth performed some wonderful dances and songs during our visit. We also met with their local youth board (comprised of young professionals under 30 years of age) and also their other board. For the first time in their history this YMCA produced a surplus from their overnight summer camping program in the summer of 2017. They had a waitlist of campers and also graduated 14 youth from camper to counselor this summer.

 

I also had the opportunity to visit the Lviv YMCA and the Verkhovyna YMCA, both in the western region of the country. It was wonderful to renew acquaintances and to meet some new volunteers involved in the YMCAs in Ukraine. Everyone is keen to learn more about our YMCA, to share ideas, and to actively plan for the future. Should you wish to learn more about our International partnership, please contact me at tanis.cochrane@calgary.ymca.ca.


A Trip to our YMCA Partners in Ukraine

A letter from YMCA Calgary’s Aquatics Director and YMCA Ukraine delegate, Graeme Voy

This past summer, I spent two weeks in Ukraine working with YMCA Ukraine Summer Camps. I spent the first few days at a day camp doing a variety of activities. I spent some time training the staff, teaching them some song and games that we would share with the kids. Duck Duck Goose turned out to be a huge hit to these Ukrainian kids!

Then I went to an overnight camp where I continued to play games, teach songs, and talk about YMCA Canada and the difference between our countries and their YMCAs. Everyone was really excited to meet me and learn about Canada and the children taught me lots of Ukrainian words. Everyone I met was very friendly and kind. They are all volunteers running these camps in Ukraine and are there because they are passionate about supporting their communities and helping others. It was a tremendous experience that I am really grateful and proud to have been a part of.

Sincerely,

Graeme Voy

 

 


Art Balfour: 72 Years and Counting

 

Art Balfour has been a YMCA member for over seven decades and we are honoured to have such a dedicated member be a part of our community. His journey started with a Y membership in Toronto, then in the States and eventually finding his way to Calgary. Art brings joy to all those around him and is a health and fitness inspiration.

In 1935, Arthur lived in Toronto and first visited the Broadview Ave YMCA branch as a drop in – it was a nickel or dime to go swim with a group of friends. He didn’t become a member until about 1945 when he left high school and started working in downtown Toronto which was close to the YMCA. In 1953-60 Arthur moved to the US in Buffalo and used the Y there. He moved to Calgary in 1961 and worked at the Amaco building which was close to the downtown Y and he would workout at lunch. He retired in 1983 has been at SHY exercising 3-4 days a week.

“It has everything I want. I can’t think of anything else with other gyms that I want. The Y offers financial assistance to children who can’t afford to come to the YMCA. It’s a nice atmosphere and your health is better”

 

 

 


Summer 2016 Street Team!

Our YMCA Calgary street team has been in many communities across the summer telling people about all the great things the YMCA has to offer and the opening of Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge. It has been a great summer meeting neighbours in so many different communities across Calgary!

 


Carolyn Kutney: The Power of Taking Classes at YMCA Calgary

Carolyn, what is your YMCA story and why are YMCA classes so important to you?

First of all I need to start with a tragedy that hit my family.  My wonderful husband of 33 years had suddenly passed away of a heart attack in January 2011.   It was devastating.  I got myself into some counseling to deal with the post-traumatic stress of his death. I joined a yoga class at the Shawnessy YMCA a year later to deal with my stress and anxiety. It was effective, but I didn’t get to do the last yoga class as I had a serious injury which brings me to March of 2012.

I was coming down stairs and missed three or four of them. I realized something was definitely wrong when I tried to get up and fell.  At the emergency room they told me that I had completely ruptured my Achilles tendon. They put me in a cast for five weeks, then a walking cast for another six weeks and I needed a cane for another few weeks after that.

In the later stages of my recovery, my physical therapist and chiropractor both suggested that getting in the water would be very beneficial for my recovery. I came into the Shawnessy YMCA and inquired about their aquatics programs and found a gentle aqua fit class in the afternoon that worked very well for me.

I tried it out for a few weeks and found that I loved it. The participants and aqua fitness instructors were so friendly and helpful – I felt right at home. I found  my walking was getting stronger and the YMCA classes were helping me deal with the anxiety of losing my husband.  After reaping the benefits of the program for a year, I decided to start looking into becoming an instructor because I loved the activity.

 

 

 


YMCA Calgary Response to Wildfire Air Quality Advisories

YMCA Calgary is taking proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of all our program participants during the wildfire situation that has caused smoke and haze to settle over Calgary and area for an indeterminate period of time.

These precautions include:

  • Appropriate revisions to programming, particular outdoor activities, at Camp Chief Hector YMCA, Camp Riveredge and at all our Centres of Community across the city
  • Adjusting building systems to minimize the effects of particulates within facility air handling units
  • Active monitoring of recommendations from Alberta Health Services, Alberta Environment and Park, Parks Canada and other agencies providing guidance during the situation

Through YMCA Calgary’s own health & safety policies, we have empowered our staff to employ their training and expertise to ensure that planned activities are fully considered in light of the ongoing situation. We are paying particular attention to the well-being of participants who have disclosed that they may have respiratory challenges.

Please don’t hesitate to ask your program lead or facility leadership should you have any questions about our response. We will also update our response to the situation as necessary through public channels, including YMCA Calgary’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

YMCA Calgary also understands that many communities have been evacuated due to the wildfires, particularly in British Columbia.

In response, YMCAs in both B.C. and Alberta are opening their doors to people impacted by the wildfires.  The YMCA has 27 health and fitness locations in Prince George, Kamloops, Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver, Surrey, Calgary, Edmonton, Wood Buffalo, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.

Evacuees simply need to visit any B.C. or Alberta YMCA with identification that includes their photo and home address to participate.

 


YMCA Open to all Wildfire Evacuees

 

All YMCAs in both British Columbia and Alberta are opening their doors to people impacted by more than 220 wildfires burning across the province of BC.  The YMCA has 27 health and fitness locations in Prince George, Kamloops, Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver, Surrey, Calgary, Edmonton, Wood Buffalo, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.

 

“We invite evacuees to visit the YMCAs listed below to shower and clean up, rest in a safe space or take part in a drop-in program like swimming, fitness classes and after school programs,” says Amanda Alexander, CEO of the YMCA of Northern BC.  “We know that the province and many of BC’s children and families are in a state of emergency right now and we welcome all people impacted by the wildfires to find refuge at the Y.”

 

Evacuees simply need to visit any BC or Alberta YMCA with identification that includes their photo and home address to participate.

 

CALGARY

Melcor YMCA at Crowfoot, 1800 John Laurie Blvd NW, 403.547.6576

Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA, 101 3rd Street SW, 403.269.6701

Remington YMCA, 108 Quarry Park Road SE, 403.351.6678

Saddletowne YMCA, 180-7555 Falconridge Blvd NE, 403.237.2393

Shawnessy YMCA, 400-333 Shawville Blvd SE, 403.256.5533

South Health Campus YMCA, 4448 Front Street SE, 403.956.3900

 

EDMONTON

Castle Downs YMCA, 11510 153rd Avenue NW, 780.476.9622

Don Wheaton YMCA, 10211 102nd Avenue NW, 780.452.9622

William Lutsky YMCA, 1975 111th Street NW, 780.439.9622

Jamie Platz YMCA, 7121 178th Street NW, 780.481.9622

 

WOOD BUFFALO

Eagle Ridge Community Centre, 2-301 Sparrow Hawk Drive, 780.743.9600

Westwood YMCA, 221 Tundra Drive, 780.790.9622

 

LETHBRIDGE

YMCA of Lethbridge, 515 Stafford Drive South, 403.327.9622

 

MEDICINE HAT

Downtown YMCA, 150 Ash Avenue SE, 403.527.4426

South Ridge YMCA, 644 Spruce Way SE, 403.528.1631

 

KELOWNA

Kelowna Downtown YMCA, 1011-505 Doyle Avenue 250.491.9622

Kelowna Family YMCA, 375 Hartman Road 250.491.9622

H2O Adventure & Fitness Centre, 4075 Gordon Drive 250.491.9622

 

KAMLOOPS

Downtown YMCA, 400 Battle Street 250.372.7725

John Tod Centre Y, 150 Wood Street 250.554.9622

 

PRINCE GEORGE

YMCA of Northern BC, 2020 Massey Drive 250.562.9241

 

VANCOUVER ISLAND

Victoria Downtown Y, 851 Broughton Street 250.386.7511

Langford Westhills Y, 1319 Westhills Drive 250.386.7511

View Royal Eagle Creek Y, 110-25 Helmcken Road 250.386.7511

 

VANCOUVER

Robert Lee YMCA, 955 Burrard Street 604.689.9622

Langara Family YMCA, 282 West 49th Avenue 604.324.9622

 

SURREY

Tong Louie Family YMCA, 14988 57th Avenue 604.575.9622

 


Donating Her Birthday Money So Kids Can Go To Camp Riveredge

Meet Maggie!

Maggie is an amazing 8-year-old who just recently did something extraordinary. Maggie has an incredible imagination and spends her time dreaming up ways to make our community a better place or even just a little more fun. It was this passion that lead her to forego the usual birthday party traditions and throw a 50/50 party. For her 8th birthday she asked everyone to donate a small monetary gift whereby half would go to a present for her and the remaining would be donated to our Strong Kids Campaign. The response was overwhelming and Maggie raised enough money to send one child to Camp Riveredge, even kicking in a little extra herself to do so.

 

In her words, “Riveredge is the best camp ever and I want all kids to be able to go even if they can’t afford it. So that’s why I am donating my birthday money to YMCA Calgary to help send 1 kid to this amazing camp”

 

With generations of family history at the YMCA it is no surprise that Maggie has been a part of the YMCA since birth. With her parents, she has even volunteered at Camp Chief Hector. It was though this experience that Maggie gained an appreciation and understanding for our Strong Kids Campaign, seeing firsthand how much joy can come from helping kids go to camp.

 

While she valued her experience at Camp Chief Hector immensely, Maggie’s true love is Camp Riveredge. Struggling with anxiety herself, the ability to enjoy the outdoors and the magic of camp while still returning home every night has meant the world to her.

 

Thank you so much Maggie for your generosity and your incredible gift to another child who otherwise would not be able to afford a camp experience!

Did you know you can now make gifts in honour, memory or celebration of someone on our website? Donate today and join Maggie in her dream of making our community a better place.


Power of Potential Wrap up: Thank you donors!

At our Annual General Meeting on May 3rd, we were pleased to announce that we have reached our Power of Potential Campaign goal to raise $30 million dollars to expand our impact across Calgary.

The Power of Potential Campaign was launched in 2014 to support the capital needs to operate three new city-built facilities, expand community programing and upgrade infrastructure at Camp Chief Hector YMCA. The new facilities include Remington YMCA in Quarry Park (2016), Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge (2018) and Seton (2019).

With the successful completion of this campaign we are excited to move forward on critical projects targeted to meet the growing needs of Calgarians.

Thank you to all our Power of Potential donors, campaign cabinet volunteers and partners who have made this dream come to life.


YMCA Calgary Community Involvement


Throughout the Calgary Stampede, YMCA Calgary staff members have been and will continue to be present and involved in community events across the city. This week we got to meet with Mayor Nenshi and Premier Notley at community events across the city. This city is so important to us and we will make sure that we are always a presence in Calgary.


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