All posts by Chad Baird

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.



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



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



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

Westwood YMCA, 221 Tundra Drive, 780.790.9622



YMCA of Lethbridge, 515 Stafford Drive South, 403.327.9622



Downtown YMCA, 150 Ash Avenue SE, 403.527.4426

South Ridge YMCA, 644 Spruce Way SE, 403.528.1631



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



Downtown YMCA, 400 Battle Street 250.372.7725

John Tod Centre Y, 150 Wood Street 250.554.9622



YMCA of Northern BC, 2020 Massey Drive 250.562.9241



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



Robert Lee YMCA, 955 Burrard Street 604.689.9622

Langara Family YMCA, 282 West 49th Avenue 604.324.9622



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.

YMCA Calgary Wins Best Non-Profit Entry in Calgary Stampede Parade



On Friday, July 7, YMCA Calgary participated in the 2017 Calgary Stampede Parade to kick off the city’s festivities. A group of over 25 YMCA volunteers and staff members sang and danced their way down 9th Avenue to the YMCA song and engaged the crowd as they pushed the float along the route. Thanks to the energy of the these individuals, YMCA Calgary won top prize for non-profit entries in the parade.

Thank you Calgary Stampede!


Shannon Doram selected to serve as YMCA Calgary’s next President and CEO


The Board of Directors of YMCA Calgary are pleased to announce that Shannon Doram has been selected to serve as YMCA Calgary’s next President and CEO.

Currently a YMCA Calgary Vice President of Operations, Doram provides leadership and oversight to YMCA’s core health, fitness and aquatics facilities, as well as all wellness programming.

Along with her previous experience in the health sector, Shannon has dedicated her career to health, wellness, and community-building.

“The Calgary we want is one of diversity, inclusion, wellness and learning,” says Doram. “Calgary’s ‘Vital Signs’ (published by The Calgary Foundation) shows that while we’re well on our way, there is still a long way to go.”

“Early childhood education, indigenous issues and community connection remain top, yet unfinished priorities for Calgarians. The YMCA is positioned to play a critical role in meeting these, and many other, important needs. We must be connected to our youth, families and seniors, driven by excellence, and constantly evolving. We are ready to build a healthier Calgary.” 

Doram holds a Bachelor of Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and a Master of Science in Health Promotion Studies from the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health. She previously held roles with Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Ministry of Health. She’s also volunteered for the Alberta Public Health Association.

 “Shannon has the experience, energy and passion to take on the responsibility of supporting the hard-working team of more than 950 staff and 1500 volunteers at the YMCA,” says Narmin Ismail-Teja, past chair of the YMCA Calgary board, current director, and chair of the CEO selection committee. “We are excited to have a leader of Shannon’s caliber take us into a period of significant and intentional growth to serve more Calgarians in every quadrant of the city.”

“There is nothing more rewarding then helping our citizens, whatever their circumstance, to belong, grow, thrive and lead through the YMCA model,” says Howard Shikaze, YMCA Calgary Chair of the Board. “We are thrilled Shannon has deepened her commitment to this meaningful work at the YMCA.”

Shannon Doram begins her new role immediately.  

How to Protect and Assist Hearing with Up to Date Technology

Health and wellness is often defined by physical strength or cardio ability, but there is so much more to well-being than just that. Hearing health is crucial to overall health and the volume of your music may be jeopardizing your ears. We caught up with Audiologist Cherie Yanke Au.D to discuss this important topic and the following is what she had to say.

We live in an exciting time, with advancements in technology shaping and affecting our daily lives, but, unfortunately this modern world is also a very noisy one. We are constantly bombarded by sounds that may be causing hearing loss, but with no immediate pain or symptoms, it often goes unnoticed. In fact, one third of all cases of permanent hearing loss could have been prevented, but it is noticed too late.

The first step in protecting your hearing is through education. We may be diligent in getting our eyes tested, or ensuring we visit the dentist on a regular basis, but most of us take our hearing health for granted. If you work in an atmosphere with constant noise, regularly listen to music through earbuds, or even sit in traffic for a few hours a day, then you are at risk. Due to the fact that hearing loss, in most cases, is gradual over time, it can simply become your new normal. So, making use of proper hearing protection when necessary, practicing safe hearing habits, and having your hearing checked regularly will ensure you won’t have any surprises down the road.

Loud noises, whether in a short intense burst or subtler over an extended period of time, force their way into the ear and if piercing enough, can dislodge the small bones of the middle ear, or damage the tiny hair cells lining the inner ear. Everyday sounds, like a vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, motorcycle, lawn mower, and traffic, can all cause damage over time without the proper hearing protection.

It’s not as if we can cut all noise out of our lives, and in many occupations like construction, emergency services, or military personnel, it’s simply unavoidable. This is where it’s up to you. If you are a festival hopping music lover, then it’s time to protect your hearing if you want to continue to enjoy music in the years to come.

There are a variety of options available for hearing protection, including many with new filtering technology. These will allow you to have conversation normally, but block out or lessen sounds of at a certain hazardous level. In other instances, such as headphone use, it’s up to you to use the technology responsibly. Limit the level you can set your smartphone to, and be sure to give your ears plenty of rest. Remember that damage accumulates over time, and is very hard to self-diagnose.

Meet the Strong Kids Fun Run Race Director, Ken Skea

With the Strong Kids Fun Run coming up it is a great time to introduce our new Race Director, Ken Skea.  Ken played various sports growing up but he first started running 25 years ago at a fundraiser for his son’s play school.  Ken started with 5-10 km races and quickly moved on to the longer distances – competing in several marathons and even ultra-marathons!

As a dedicated YMCA member Ken was asked to work with the Gray Family YMCA Youth Running Club.  The club runs out of the Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA every Tuesday afternoon from 4:15-5:15pm.  Ken is passionate about inspiring the youth to be active in whatever their pursuit; be it running, hiking, biking or swimming.  As a coach he wants to remind you that it is the first 10-15 minutes that are the toughest – but afterwards you will feel rejuvenated!

Heading up the Strong Kids Fun Run was a perfect fit for Ken.  When asked about the route he said: “It’s the best location!  The kids run around Prince’s Island Park right along the pathways – so no need to worry about being on the road.  It really is the best location for a fun run!”


Join us! Run on April 29th; 5km, 10km or a 1.5km Fun Run!

Register online at: www.

Will earbuds damage my hearing?


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Health and wellness is often defined by physical strength or cardio ability, but there is so much more to well-being than just that. Hearing health is crucial to overall health and the volume of your music may be jeopardizing your ears. We caught up with Audiologist Cherie Yanke Au.D to discuss this important topic and the following is what she had to say. 

We all love heading out for a run with some of our favourite songs to pump us up and set our pace. Music and exercise are a great combination, but can it damage your hearing?

Smartphones and earbuds (or earphones) have become a part of our everyday lives, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but they have to be used with caution. Sound levels and duration of use are the two most important contributing factors when using earphones responsibly.

Over-the-ear headphones have largely been considered the safest option as they sit over the ear, rather than directly in the ear canal, but this is not necessarily true. Again, it all comes down to sound levels, so perhaps the more important factor is whether or not they block outside noise. If external audio, from a busy street or the gym, is making its way through, it can cause a person to up the volume to block it out. Instead, a pair of headphones that block out noise will be the safest choice, as it encourages more responsible listening.

Most smartphones can blast music at 120 decibels, which is equivalent to a rock concert, and can cause nerve damage in less than a minute, eventually leading to noise induced hearing loss. No matter how much you love to rock out to that dubstep while on the spin bike, it’s just not worth permanently damaging your hearing. The solution: Turn it down. You’ll find your hearing adjusts to the level of sound, so set it to what is comfortable in a quiet room (shouldn’t be more than half of your phone’s capacity), and then lock it to max out there.

The second contributing factor is the duration of use. If you are listening at a level of 90 decibels it may not be a problem for a short period of time, but over hours of continuous use it becomes equivalent to a blast of 150 dB to your hearing. So, be sure to give your ears adequate breaks, switching to the car radio or stereo at home rather than always resorting to earbuds.

The best way to reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss is not to discontinue use of earbuds, but learn to use them responsibly. It is worth it to invest in noise-cancelling earphones, which are designed to seal off your ear canal and block out any outside noise. They promote lower listening volumes as the music isn’t competing with any background noise. Custom earbuds are also great option, as they are molded to fit perfectly to your ear canal and are even more effective in serving as a sound block.

For more information, please contact Cherie Yanke Au.D. at