Strong Kids Campaign Success Story
YMCA Calgary is happy to announce that the 2015 YMCA Strong Kids Campaign raised $1.6 Million and enabled over 20,000 children to participate in YMCA activities! This goal would have never been met without the immense generosity and support of thousands of donors. Despite economic downturn across the city, our donors reached into their pockets and their hearts to support a great cause that supports so many children. Each and every one of our donors is directly pouring into the lives of Calgarian children and for that, we say, “Thank you!” Every single child who learned to swim, painted a picture, made a friend, wrote a poem, sunk their first basket or won their first race, they also say, “Thank you!” with a beaming smile across their face.
Each branch contributed greatly to reaching the financial goal of $1.6 Million and their contribution cannot go unnoticed! This program could never move forward without the continued support from all YMCA branches across the city.
Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA – $380,000
Saddletowne YMCA – $31,674
Crowfoot YMCA – $59,423
Shawnessy YMCA – $77,811
South Health Campus YMCA – $18,256
YMCA Strong Kids is an annual fundraising campaign to raise resources to support proven YMCA programs that give kids the opportunities they need to reach their full potential. Our goal is to help kids live healthier, happier lives today, and grow into productive adults in the future.
To learn more about Strong Kids Campaign or to donate please visit
We were thrilled to host the NeighborLink‘s Crib Campaign launch this morning, along with our partners at the Genesis Centre.
Mayor Nenshi ceremoniously made the first donation to celebrate this launch. Congratulations to NeighbourLink for launching their largest campaign in history. This will help more infants than ever before!
YMAP in the News
Some of our amazing YMAP participants were recently featured on Global News!
YMAP: YMCA Achievement Program
YMAP works with over 320 high school youth and young adults each year who are new to Canada. These youth are refugees, immigrants, international students and second generation Canadians from over 50 different countries.
We engage these youth through weekly after-school sessions and special events. YMAP youth have the opportunity to develop in all areas essential to a positive and healthy integration into Canada while maintaining and celebrating their culture of origin. They also are engaged in community work through volunteer and fundraising projects throughout the city.
YMCA Calgary’s top executive joins community of Canada’s most iconic women leaders
Calgary, Alberta (November 25, 2015) –– YMCA Calgary is pleased to announce Helene Weir, President and CEO, YMCA Calgary has been named a Women’s Executive Network (WXN) 2015 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner.
Launched in 2003, the Top 100 Awards celebrate the incredible accomplishments of Canada’s top female executive talent as well as their organizations and networks. Ms. Weir, who is included in WXN 2015 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 will be honoured during a gala celebration at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on November 26.
Helene Weir joined the YMCA in 1983 and, in increasingly senior positions, has had a profound impact by helping our charity improve the lives of people in our community and fulfill a vision where every Calgarian can belong, grow, thrive and lead.
As a proud supporter of women in leadership, YMCA Calgary works to create the necessary conditions and opportunities for women like Ms. Weir to help them thrive and succeed within the not-for-profit community.
“We are proud of the accomplishments of Helene Weir and the team she leads,” said Narmin Ismail-Teja, Chair of the Board of YMCA Calgary. “In a time of profound growth and change for our organization, Helene lives out the YMCA values of honest, respect, responsibility and caring every day.”
The Top 100 Awards serve to recognize talented leaders in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and to inspire the current and next generation to push the boundaries of what’s possible.
“For these highly accomplished women, receiving a Top 100 Award means much more than recognition or a chance to share the spotlight with other remarkable Winners, it’s an opportunity to pay it forward,” says WXN founder, Pamela Jeffery. “WXN Top 100 Award Winners are powerful women both in their careers and their potential to transcend boundaries to have a greater impact on the communities around them.”
Helene Weir joins a prestigious community of past Award Winners, including Canada’s most iconic women trailblazers: Margaret Atwood, best-selling author; Dr. Roberta Bondar, astronaut; Arlene Dickinson, former “Dragon” and chief executive officer, Venture Communications; Christine Magee, president, Sleep Country Canada; Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada; Heather
Reisman, founder and chief executive officer, Indigo Books & Music; and, Kathleen Taylor, chair of the board, Royal Bank of Canada.
The full list of WXN’s 2015 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winners can be found at www.wxnetwork.com/top-100/top-100-winners.
About Helene Weir
Helene Weir is in a rare group of female CEOs in the world-wide YMCA movement, currently active in over 120 countries. Ms. Weir is one of only 3 female CEOs among the largest YMCAs in Canada and is one of only 13 in the 70 largest YMCAs in North America. Under her leadership, YMCA Calgary is one of the leading voices in the country for preventative health through physical activity and wellness through community. A 2011 Women of Vision award winner here in Calgary, she also demonstrates a commitment to local community involvement through membership in the Rotary Club of Calgary which just celebrated its 100th anniversary in Calgary.
About YMCA Calgary
YMCA Calgary is a charity dedicated to building healthy communities. For over 113 years, YMCA Calgary has been committed to nurturing the potential of children, youth and families, promoting healthy living and fostering social responsibility within the community.
About the Women’s Executive Network (WXN)
At WXN, we inspire smart women to lead. WXN creates and delivers innovative networking, mentoring, professional and personal development to inform, inspire, connect and recognize our community of more than 19,500 smart women and their organizations in the pursuit of excellence. WXN enables our partners and corporate members to become and to be recognized as employers of choice and leaders in the advancement of women.
Founded in 1997, WXN is Canada’s leading organization dedicated to the advancement and recognition of women in management, executive, professional and board roles. WXN is a founding member of the Canadian Board Diversity Council, dedicated to increasing the diversity of Canada’s corporate boards. In 2008, WXN launched in Ireland, followed by London, UK in 2015, creating an international community of female leaders.
For media inquiries or to arrange an interview with Helene Weir or WXN founder Pamela Jeffery, please contact:
416-960-5100 ext. 260
Did you know YMCA Calgary has over 1,200 volunteers? They are the engine behind many aspects of the organization and we wouldn’t be where we are today without their hard-work and generosity!
The spirit of volunteerism at the YMCA is made possible by the many individuals who support, train, and lead volunteers. November 5th is ‘International Volunteer Managers Day’. Find a moment to thank someone who is the power behind the many super hero volunteers in our city.
A special thanks to the YMCA Calgary Volunteer Coordinators for each YMCA location for all that you you do!
Written by Cydney Hall, Youth Worker , Crowfoot YMCA.
It is my pleasure to announce that Crowfoot YMCA’s pilot project for the Alternative Suspension Program officially began in May of this year.
The Alternative Suspension program was started to provide a fresh environment and support for students in high school that are at-risk of suspension or have been suspended for a duration of 3-5 days. The objective is to support youth in their transition back into school through developing personal and academic skills, which is often missed in the traditional out-of-school suspension.
Through schoolwork support, workshops and one-on-one meetings with myself, the Youth Worker, youth have the opportunity to explore their goals, both school-related and personal, and develop their success plan for a positive re-integration back into school as well as other communities they are involved with. The program places a strong emphasis on partnership with the student’s school and their parents, developing a committed team dedicated to each youth’s success.
To date, five youth have participated in the program and two have been re-referred to provide additional support and resources for their exceptional cases. It has been amazing to journey with each youth throughout their participation and watch them create their own success stories through their hard work, willingness to engage and recognition of abilities.
The following is one youth’s account of their experience while in the program. I asked them to describe what they learned and completed as well as what they would have done during their time spent in the program if the program wasn’t available.
“I spent my time getting extra credits to improve my school year, also Cydney taught me how to better deal with my emotions and how to play a different version of jeopardy.
Cydney is definitely the right person for this job because she is understanding, knows when to push you to finish work and also when you can’t focus and need a little break. If I had my pick this would be my school of choice because I work best in a quiet environment and this program has provided me with that.
Without Alternative Suspension I would not have come back to school and might have even dropped out, I would be at home playing Xbox.”
– Grade 10 student, Age 15
I think it is important to highlight that it is the resiliency and strength of each youth participating in the Alternative Suspension program that truly makes it successful. The balance of school support with workshops facilitates a space where youth are encouraged to develop a positive attitude towards school, and where some laughter and jeopardy games occur along the way!
With this promising start it is exciting to look ahead to the next school year and the experiences that will emerge from it.
Eau Claire was BOOMING this past Friday as our Grade 6’s congregated on the third floor to celebrate the past 10 months we’ve spent together.
What a truly amazing year we’ve had! Between impromptu gaga ball face-offs, nutrition workshops, tournaments, dance parties, Lego sessions, and cooking classes, it seems we have done it all at the YMCA! This past Friday, we got all of our branches together for our Grade 6 Year End Celebration, and it was incredible! Even though we were rained out of our Riveredge site, we still managed to collect a whopping total of 122 grade 6 students under the Eau Claire roof!
After enjoying some pizza and veggies, we split off into groups and participated in a variety of different stations. All our grade sixes got to try a little bit of everything; from Lego, to Kin ball and team building, to the first ever YMCA dance-rap-karaoke party!
We even got to meet Harvey the Hound and former Flames defenceman, Rhett Warrener!
The best part was having all of our members come together and experience something new with their fellow branches. All of us were excited to be a part of something so different – and we ensured that everyone in the building knew it! We are the first cohort of Calgary YMCA’s Grade 6 members, and we made sure to sign this school year off with a bang!
Summer is just around the corner and we are all bustling with the exciting opportunities that await us! To find out more information on what your branch is doing this summer, take a look at our Activity Page or contact your Youth Coordinator!
Thanks again to all of our lovely grade 6 members who have made this year at the YMCA one of our most memorable! And thank you to all of our incredibly dedicated staff and volunteers as well as the Calgary Flames Foundation for Life for making this year happen! Without all of us – staff, members, and supporters alike – this year’s success would not have been possible!
Community Impact Plan 2015
Throughout 2014 YMCA Calgary gathered information from members and program participants to learn about your experiences with the YMCA. These experiences inform the ongoing development of programs and services and also form the basis of our priorities as an Association. Below is a brief summary of the findings and action steps we’ll take to improve your YMCA experience and our impact in the community.
What we learned:
- Everyone is on a YMCA journey. Thousands of people from all walks of life come in and out of the YMCA each day. Our members and participants embark upon personal journeys to belong, grow, thrive and lead from the moment they walk through the door. The most common reasons people participate are to support their children’s development and to improve their own well-being.
- Relationships Matter. Member and participant relationships with staff and volunteers are both the catalyst to their personal success and one of the main reasons they keep coming to the YMCA.
- Commitment to Community. Each of our members and participants contribute to the YMCA’s ability to make a positive impact. The YMCA provides a friendly, welcoming and safe environment for families and individuals to come to be part of something larger than themselves; part of a community.
Where we do go from here?
We’re excited to use the information we gathered in order to create a better, more meaningful YMCA experience for everyone!
Written by Shay Whitney, Aboriginal Manager, Community YMCA.
Y7G is now a High School Accredited program at Crescent Heights High School.
This provides participants who take the course to gain high school credits, while learning new and exciting skills and cultural knowledge. This is the first time that Y7G has had high school credits given out with the program. Once the students successfully complete the program, they are awarded the credits just like any other high school course. Currently Y7G is only running at Crescent Heights High School, but is looking to expand into other high schools soon.
What is Y7G?
Y7G is a leadership program for Aboriginal youth in the city of Calgary. In the program, the participants are given opportunities to discover traditional leadership skills, employment skills, modern life skills, education and study skills, relationship building and team building.
Mixed in with traditional teachings and practices, arts and identity discoveries, Y7G seeks to create a holistic balance with the curriculum and knowledge that the participants are involved with. The goal is to help instill an essence of self-empowerment as a youth and as an Aboriginal person, while embracing the Seven Sacred Teachings of our people and the YMCA Four Core Values.
Meet Georgina Waldron, Shawnessy YMCA’s Youth Volunteer of the Year!
What is your volunteer role at YMCA? What does a shift look like?
I regularly volunteer for Cookie Monsters class on Saturday mornings. We typically have between 8-12 kids ages 3-5. We cook a recipe from the cook book, I always love the food even when the kids don’t!
What do you like about volunteering at YMCA?
I love being able to work in my community, meeting new people and dealing with new experiences. I love working with children, watching them grow and learn through play. I am learning lots and developing new skills to help me in my goal to become an elementary school teacher.
Why did you choose to volunteer at YMCA over another organization?
I wanted to be able to volunteer for an organization that serves the heart of my community, in addition volunteering with the Y allows me to volunteer directly with children as well as meeting many amazing adults. I was really excited when I applied to be a volunteer to work as a leader, and find out more about myself.
How long have you been involved at YMCA?
When I immigrated to Canada almost 7 years ago I was enrolled in swimming lessons at the YMCA. In Middle School I had volunteered at the local elementary school but was unable to continue with that when I left. Once I started High School I spoke to a couple of other students who had great experiences volunteering at the Y and decided to apply to volunteer myself.
Do you have a YMCA story?
It is sometimes hard to wake up on Saturdays to get to the YMCA, especially now that I live on the U of C campus! I am always glad that I do because the volunteers that I work with and the children in the class always find a way to make me smile. Sometimes the children in class attack me with the dinosaur puppets, or spill flour all over my black YMCA shirt, but I always enjoy myself and feel good about teaching them something.
Why are you a volunteer?
Life can get pretty stressful and I have definitely learned that in my first year of university. I have also learned that volunteering helps me relax, I think this is because I am focusing on helping the kids in the class and doing something for the community, instead of focusing on myself. I also think that every time I volunteer I learn a lot about myself and what I am good at. I think that everyone should volunteer not just because it makes a difference in the community but also because it feels great to give back.
What are your plans for the future? How has YMCA benefited you for school or your career?
My plan for the future is to become an elementary school teacher. Volunteering at the YMCA has been a true gift to me. It has given me many experiences helping young children learn, and has taught me so much about myself as a leader. I can’t think of any better way to help me prepare for the future I want and I am so grateful for all the great experiences and opportunities I have been given at the YMCA.
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- Melcor YMCA at Crowfoot
- Quarry Park Child Development Centre
- Remington YMCA
- Saddletowne YMCA
- Shawnessy YMCA
- South Health Campus YMCA
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