All posts by YMCA Calgary

YMCA Camp Riveredge Tipi Story

Written by: Sarena Provost, Indigenous Manager

YMCA Camp Riveredge is situated along the banks of the Elbow River, where the Blackfoot people traditionally used to hold summer ceremonies. YMCA Camp Riveredge has always had tipi’s put up every summer for a culturally safe space for morning smudging, programming, and to be used to shelter groups of campers from rain/snow. Every summer, our tipi’s are blessed by Elder Joe Spotted Bull from the Kainai Nation. In the summer of 2016, Elder Joe felt that if we were going to bless our tipi’s, they should be given a Blackfoot name to honor the traditional territory and space for camp.

The following summer in 2017, Elder Joe advised us that to be culturally appropriate and honour the Blackfoot names of the tipi’s, we need to get Blackfoot style tipi’s. So, in the early part of 2018, Camp Chief Hector YMCA, who oversees Riveredge, embarked on a consultation process with Elder Joe on the purchase of tipi’s, poles, buttons, and piquets.

We contracted Roberta Smith, tipi maker from the Piikani Nation, to make four 18ft tipis for camp. So, in the summer of 2018, YMCA Camp Riveredge welcomed the summer with 4 beautiful Blackfoot tipis that all had names, which are Pitaa (Eagle), Kiiayo (Bear), Ponohka (Elk), and A’pina (Butterfly).

Every summer, we’re thankful and honoured to have Knowledge Keepers Jaron Weasel Bear and Kyle Plain Eagle, along with their helpers from the Piikani Nation, come put up our tipis. Once the tipis are up, they are blessed by Elder Joe.

We give a hand to heart thanks to our Elder, Joe Spotted Bull, Knowledge Keepers, Jaron Weasel Bear and Kyle Plain Eagle and Tipi Maker, Roberta Smith for their continued allyship, cultural guidance, and blessing. They continue to support us to make sure YMCA Camp Riveredge is connected to the land, people, and culture of the Blackfoot Territory and Treaty #7.

This year, we’re thankful and honoured to have Elder Joe Spotted Bull’s granddaughter, Susan Spotted Bull, lead our tipi blessing for a safe and fun summer for our campers and staff. Our relationships with the people and land are a value, responsibility, and commitment we have to the importance of reconciliation.


#YLiftingSpirits Winner

Happy March!

We are happy to announce the winner of our #YLiftingSpirits challenge. We held our Y Lifting Spirits challenge to help improve the mental and physical health of our communities. It turned out to be a great success, and we cannot thank everyone enough for participating in the challenge with us and building such a fantastic digital community around it.

We asked the winner, Judy, what she thought of the challenge, and here were her answers:

What was your motivation behind joining the challenge? I mainly wanted to get active again. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work from home, but that meant a lot of sitting in front of the computer and not moving around as much. Also, with the gyms having been closed, I lost my motivation to exercise on my own at home. The Lifting Spirits Challenge seemed like a great way to get myself moving again and did exactly as stated in the name – it lifted my spirits!

What was the best part about the challenge? I loved the variety of workouts that were offered a part of the challenge! I kept meaning to check out the workouts that the YMCA offered online, but never did. The challenge gave me the incentive to get my butt in gear to finally do it.

How did participating in the challenge help your health and/or overall wellbeing? As I mentioned above, I had lost my motivation to work out in my own at home. I find I prefer classes, rather than doing my own thing, because the instructors help motivate you. The workouts that were offered by the YMCA as part of the challenge were fun and the instructors were great! They really kept me looking forward to the next one.

This isn’t your first reward with us, why do you continue to choose Hubudub and/or YMCA Calgary? I discovered Hubudub while I was at the YMCA for my oldest’s skating and swimming lessons (pre-COVID). As for the YMCA, I loved having all these different activities available in one place. I had my oldest register for almost back-to-back classes of skating and swimming on one day. Our location also has a small library. During my maternity leave with my youngest, I would register for the baby sessions where we would socialize with other parents, sing songs and listen to a book being read. The YMCA is such a great place that offers activities for the whole daily and really brings the community together.

We are now offering some activities at Shane Homes YMCA and Brookfield Residential YMCA to learn more about these please click here: Click here


3 ways that working out everyday will help mental wellness

“Stress” and “anxiety” are common words used during this time of uncertainty. It is okay that you are feeling this way – everyone is right now! The longer we are on lockdown, the more stressed and anxious we become. We must take the time to take care of our mental health and do things that make us happy. In this case, working out everyday is important for our mental health.
 

Here are three ways that working out will make your day better

 
Encourages you to be mindful and focus on one thing – It is easy to get wrapped up in the day’s events. Taking 20 to 30 minutes out of your day to do something active – a Facebook Live fitness class, a Youtube video or going for a walk will allow you to reset and forget your worries and just focus on one thing. This will help with any anxiety since it provides your brain an opportunity to disconnect from the worries and focus on how your body feels during the workout instead.
 
Encourages you to take some time for yourself – even if you don’t like working out there are many ways to be active instead of taking a fitness class. These include walking, hiking and playing your favourite sport. Taking 30 minutes a day gives you permission to be uninterrupted by your kids or work. It gives you time to just focus on yourself, forget about daily stressors, and just focus on your body for 30 minutes.
 
Encourages you to break up the day – it is very easy to get sucked into the day if it is either by work, homeschooling, or other commitments. Taking some time every day to workout will all for you to break up the day. It will help release tension and restore energy in your body. It will also increase your attention and productivity when you go back to work or pick up the kids from school.
 
YMCA Calgary offers Facebook Live fitness classes that are between 20-30 minutes long. You can find the video playlist through this link: Click here


Meditation for Anxiety: Developing a new practice

Hi everybody! My name is Stephen from YMCA Calgary, and I am here to chat briefly about a subject that has become increasingly important to me throughout the pandemic – meditation for anxiety. I am like millions who experience the countless physical and mental symptoms associated with stress and anxiety, such as:
 

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Problems sleeping
  • Mood swings
  • Low energy
  • Depression
  •  
    Some of these symptoms have become amplified during these uncertain and divisive times. However, meditation has emerged as one of the many tools I use to help reduce stress and bring inner peace whenever I need it most. Like anything, it takes practice, but I have found that just a few minutes a day can make a big difference in my mental and physical well-being.
     
    Meditation is a way for me to sort through the whirlwind of thoughts swirling in my mind at any given moment. When I feel overwhelmed or tense, taking 10 minutes to sit down with my thoughts will go a long way to providing me perspective on the stressors in my life and how I can develop skills or strategies to manage them. Meditation is also a great way to bring about self-awareness and guide my focus to the present rather than getting wrapped up in the multitude of worries about the future. Have you ever disagreed with someone and then replayed that moment over-and-over in your head? A short meditation session is a great way to reduce the negative emotions in those moments and increase your patience and tolerance.
     
    There are numerous ways to meditate, but the three methods that have worked well for me are guided meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga. Experimenting with different methods will help you find a technique that works best for you. Combining techniques is also an excellent way to developing an overall strategy to supporting your overall well-being.
     
    Guided meditation: There are dozens of apps and online sources that provided a guided meditation experience for beginners and experts alike. Apps like Calm, Headspace, and Buddhify are growing in popularity but do your research as some require paid memberships (which are worth every penny, in my humble opinion). You can also find guided meditations on social channels like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
     
    Breathing Exercises: Focusing on your breath is considered a form of meditation because it centers your mind on the now, improves the mind-body connection, and reduces anxiety. A simple exercise that anyone can do is called Box Breathing. It is simple, and here is how it’s done: sit up straight in your chair or lay down flat on your back and close your eyes. Empty your lungs in preparation for your first breath of the exercise. Begin breathing in for four seconds, and then hold for four seconds. Proceed to breathe out for four seconds and then hold for four seconds. Repeat this process for four cycles.
     
    Yoga: Developing a yoga practice is a terrific method of meditation that is both beneficial mentally and physically. By performing a series of yoga postures and using a controlled breath, you will build a flexible body and a calm mind. I often perform yoga first thing in the morning or the middle of a busy day because it allows me to shift my focus from what needs to be done to what I am doing at the moment. YMCA Calgary’s Facebook page has dozens of free yoga classes that you can follow from the comfort of your own home, and there are new live classes added every week! Click here
     
    Starting something new is always scary and is never easy, but the most challenging things in life are the things worth doing. Do not feel scared that meditation is difficult or that you have a hard time quieting your thoughts. Meditation is just a way to listen more closely to those thoughts and understand where they come from. There is a style of mediation for everyone, and I hope that this article has inspired you in some way to explore a meditation practice for yourself.


Declutter your home to give back!

I am sure you have noticed how much clutter you have at home—especially with the holidays just finishing. Nothing helps you feel like you have some control of your life then taking time to declutter your home. There are many charities and non-profits in Calgary that need everyday household items to distribute to families (and animals!) who would not have the items otherwise. We have compiled a list of different charities you can donate your items to help others:

 

Made by Momma

 
For the full wish list: Click here
 

  • New and gently used in-kind donations:

 
Baby, kids & maternity clothing
 

  • Baby gear
  • Toys
  • Books
  • Baby formula and baby food (unopened, not expired)
  • Diapers and baby wipes

 
See their weekly wish list for urgent needs #MBMWishList
 
 

Calgary Food Bank

 
For the full wish list: Click here
 

  • Canned food
  • Grains
  • Pasta sauce
  • Juice
  • Peanut butter
  • Hygiene items
  • Pet Food
  • Baby Items
  • Bags, cards, party supplies, books, art, and school supplies
  • Games, toys, cake mixes, icing, balloons, and candles.

 
 

Women in Need Society

 
For the full wish list: Click here
 

  • Clothing and shoes: Women’s, Men’s, and Children’s
  • Accessories: hats, mittens, scarves, socks, purses, wallets, jewelry, and backpacks
  • Household goods: cookware, bakeware, dinnerware, cutlery, glassware, plastic storage, and utensils
  • Small electrical appliances
  • Electronics
  • Household décor
  • Linens
  • Children’s games, toys, and books

 
 

The Children’s Cottage Society

 
For the full wish list (only accepting new items currently): Click here
 

  • Clothes for newborns and children up to 18 years old
  • Baby swings and bouncers

 
 

Calgary Flames Sports Bank

 
For the full wish list: Click here
 

  • Sleds/ Toboggans
  • Snowshoes
  • X-Country Skis – 160cm and below
  • X-Country Ski Boots – SNS & NNN Style
  • Down Hill Skis – 160cm and below
  • Ski poles
  • Hockey Helmets – certified/non-expired
  • Skates – Adult size 5-12 (for the teenagers)

 
 

Don’t have any physical goods to give? A financial donation to YMCA Calgary will support youth, children and adults to belong, grow, thrive and lead: Donate today


A YMCA Halloween

Join us for a Halloween Celebration – with outdoor activities, safe trick-or-treating and family friendly fun!

 
Date: Saturday, October 31
 
Location: Camp Riveredge and Camp Chief Hector YMCA
 
Price:
– Camp Riveredge – $25/Family
– Camp Chief Hector YMCA – $75/Family
 
Time:
– Camp Riveredge – 1-3 pm; 3-5 pm; 5-7 pm
– Camp Chief Hector YMCA – 1-7 pm
 
Register: cchy@ymcacalgary.org or call any YMCA location


YMCA Calgary Thanksgiving Holiday Hours

 Location Holiday Hours of Operation
Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA Thanksgiving
Monday, October 12
Closed
Saddletowne YMCA Thanksgiving 7 am to 2 pm
Remington YMCA Thanksgiving
Monday, October 12
Closed
Melcor YMCA at Crowfoot
Thanksgiving
Monday, October 12
Closed
Shawnessy YMCA Thanksgiving
Monday, October 12
Closed
Brookfield Residential YMCA Thanksgiving
Monday, October 12
7 am to 8:30 pm
Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge Thanksgiving
Monday, October 12
7 am to 8:30 pm

Facebook Live fitness classes schedule

Week five: Nov 9 – 13

Mon, November 9

9:30am:Strength with Michelle
5:30pm: Interval training with Lorelei

Tues, November 10

9:30am: Yoga with Eunmi

Thurs, November 12

12:00pm: Int. Training with Lynda
5:30pm: Core strength with Nancy

Fri, November 13

9:30am: Gentle Fitness with Kaia

Important information

– Classes will be 20-30 minutes in length
– Classes will use minimal equipment
– Schedule may change due to instructor availability!


Dear Calgary: An Open Letter On Community Leadership

 
 
Dear Calgary,

I love our city.

I’m a born and raised Calgarian, so naturally I love the mountains, the Stampede and I love our proud culture of sport and recreation (Go Flames!). I also love our generosity, our kindness, our spirit, and our people.

We miss feeling this at our YMCAs. We miss you.

These last few months have been hard. For many, our livelihoods, purpose and sense of security have been changed in ways none of us could have predicted. At the same time, a rising unrest is passionately and rightfully highlighting the disparities, discrimination and injustice that still impacts too many of our neighbours. The tragic death of George Floyd further amplifies a deep wound in our societies. It reinforces the important role we must all play to foster inclusion, belonging, diversity and community. These demonstrations are a cry for awareness, equity and change.

This is an important moment for us to be leaders in our communities.

Together as a city, we must continue to strive for positive change for every one of us. This moment calls us to listen carefully, to stand up for, and care for our neighbours; and for each other. This moment calls us to deepen our commitment to work together and to find positive steps forward. And, this moment calls us to double-down on developing future leaders who will move us forward with empathy and hope.

June is National Indigenous History Month; an opportunity to recognize and to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is also an incredible opportunity to recognize the strength of present-day Indigenous communities, to share stories, and to learn from culture and traditions that help keep us all strong, inspired and connected.

Our YMCA work has always called us to create experiences that give every person we serve the opportunity to reach their full potential. We are proud that our YMCA is for everyone. Now and always, that means we must work to make sure not only our YMCA, but our city, is welcoming to all.

I believe in us Calgary, and I look forward to seeing you in person soon. We’re ready to keep doing our part so that everyone feels they belong.
 
 
In unity,

YMCA

Shannon Doram
President and CEO, YMCA Calgary


Michelle Green, Fitness Instructor: Empowers and inspires every day!

We often hear the voice of Michelle Green, YMCA Calgary Fitness Instructor, in the gym at Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA. Michelle has been a part of the YMCA Calgary community for six years and continues to inspire and empower not just the people that take her fitness classes, but everybody around her.

She develops strong relationships with all members and truly pushes them to be the best they can be during their time in her classes. “I watch my participants come into a class and completely shut out the outside world. They work out for that full hour and then they leave almost as different people,” says Green. “They start to see changes in themselves which then causes them to empower everybody around them because people are so impressed by their changes.”

Michelle was a stay-at-home mom and out of work for 15 years. Absolutely terrified to go back to work, she says the instructors and staff at YMCA Calgary made it easier. “The instructors and staff embraced me and welcomed me with open arms. I was able to be myself.”

“The instructors here are the ones that empower me every single day,” says Green. “I get to watch them grow and change; I get to help them become the instructors they want to be. Seeing them grow and become these amazing instructors, and seeing their classes grow just because they are so liked, is truly remarkable. They constantly push and challenge me to work harder and be more creative,” says Green with a smile. “The instructors here are phenomenal, and they truly get me. I have become a better mom and more mindful of people because of them.”

Michelle makes a solid effort to connect with her class participants and gets to know them on a personal level. “I had a gentleman come into a registered class that I taught, and he was very unfit. He was a couch potato and smoker and was unable to get past the warm-up. He ended up lying on the floor laughing since he couldn’t believe how hard the class was,” Michelle recalls.

“I got to know him. I sat down with him and told him to keep pushing as there was a reason why he came to this class. I told him if he wants to see changes, he is going to have to work for it. After that, he came back to every single class for months and months and went from being a very unfit person to a U16 Soccer Referee. He is now a top Canadian Soccer Referee,” says Michelle. “This was a huge accomplishment for him. He wrote me a letter thanking me for all the changes I made for him. To this day, this person is still really close to my heart as I got to see him change so much.”

Our Fitness Instructors, like Michelle, try their best every single class to empower their participants to be the best they can be. They truly care about helping their members meet their fitness goals and will support them as best they can. If you have a Fitness Instructor that has empowered you, please share it with us by emailing: communications@calgary.ymca.ca.

Learn more about our fitness programs here: https://www.ymcacalgary.org/program-descriptions/


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