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Teen Night Rocks at Shawnessy YMCA!

Bring a friend for FREE on January 13!  Teen night resumes on January 13 at Shawnessy YMCA and we want you to bring your friends.  Swimming, ping-pong, foosball, Wii, dancing and basketball are just some the activites available!  Come out Friday nights from 7-10 and have a great time.  Keep checking in to learn about our special events.


Teen Night at the Eau Claire YMCA

Looking for something for your TEENS to do over the holidays?

Join us at the Eau Claire YMCA for a $3.00 drop in of supervised Teen activities. Choose from basketball and other court sports, ping pong, squash, racquet ball, weight floor, running track and swimming.

A safe and healthy environment for your teens. Teen Nights at the Eau Claire YMCA will run both December 23rd and 29th.


YMCA Childcare – Children and Centres are Growing!

Saddletowne YMCA Child Development Centre – preparing for our January 3, 2012 opening!

YMCA Child Development Centres offer programs that meet and exceed Provincial licensing standards.  Currently 88 children each month benefit from engaging in YMCA Canada’s Playing to Learn curriculum.  Staff members use reflective practices to ensure that the experiences children have in the program are based on their interests and provide an optimal environment for learning.  Each day is filled with activities and adventure that has children and staff exploring their world together.

We are excited to be preparing for our newest childcare centre to open on January 3, 2012 as part of the Saddletowne YMCA located in the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness in NE Calgary.  Soon, we will be able to help another 48 young children to belong, grow, lead and thrive! 

Meet some of the Saddletowne YMCA staff members as they feature a couple of the childcare centre’s child friendly features:

Merle Clarke, Childcare Director – trying out a mini shopping cart

Nikol McDonald-Robart, Youth Director – checking out a toddler sized, in-centre washroom

For information and registration please contact Merle at 403-781-1699.  Space is limited.


YMCA Engages Young Leaders!

 YMCA Calgary Volunteer, Dalmy Baez, has been chosen to sit on the World Relationships Committee.

For the first time in recent memory, two young YMCA leaders have been chosen to join the World Relationships Committee.

Engaging young leaders is a key component of our Plan Y strategy. The YMCA National Board is particularly interested in strengthening the under-30 volunteer voice in connection with governance and our international work, which is what led to the creation of two new positions on the World Relationships Committee (you may remember our call for applications back in October).

Chaired by Rob Reid, Vice-Chair of the National Board, the World Relationships Committee provides strategic guidance to YMCA Canada’s relationships within the global YMCA network. After reviewing applications from across the country, the selection committee (which consisted of Rob Reid; Ida Thomas, YMCA Canada’s VP, Children, Teens and Young Adults; and Mary Anne Roche, YMCA Canada’s VP, International Development & Relations) chose Carla Acosta of the YMCA of Greater Toronto, and Dalmy Baez of the YMCA of Calgary to bring a young leader’s perspective to the Committee. Both are appointed until May 2013.

Carla is a full-time student at Toronto’s York University pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and International Development. She is a volunteer with the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s International Program, assisting with the development of educational resources.

Dalmy is the Resource Coordinator for Longview Systems in Calgary. She is a volunteer with the YMCA of Calgary’s International Committee, and a former participant in the “Mano a Mano” leadership development program (a collaborative initiative of YMCA Canada, YMCA of the USA and YMCA Mexico).

The two recruits recently underwent an intense orientation in advance of their first World Relationships Committee meeting, held on Dec. 2 in Montreal. Says Dalmy, “my first committee meeting truly proved to be a phenomenal experience. I came away inspired about the role the YMCA plays on an international level and excited about the prospect that I might have an impact on this movement. I am very much looking forward to my future with this committee.” Carla was equally inspired, saying, “This opportunity has given me the chance to become engaged with my global community, to voice my concerns and to actually make an impact in the world.”


Research Shows the Benefits of Summer Camp

Benefits of YMCA Summer Camp

Families have been sharing with the YMCA for years their observations that their children return from camp with strong friendships, greater maturity, good health and a love of the outdoors. Now there is research that confirms these stories.

The Canadian Summer Camp Research Project identified five areas for review: social integration and citizenship, environmental awareness, attitudes towards physical activity, emotional intelligence and self-confidence and personal development.

Funded by Canadian Camping Association/Association des camps du Canada (CCA/ACC) and the University of Waterloo, the project concludeds 5-years of research that included 16 camps from across Canada and over 1200 campers.

The research data show an increase in all five areas that were reviewed. A summary of the project and many other useful resources can be found on the CCA/ACC website.

Camp Chief Hector YMCA is an accredited member of the CCA/ACC, as well as a member of the Alberta Camps Assocation and the International Camping Fellowship.


Family Fun Holiday Activities

Hanging Ice Ornaments – Steve MacDonald, Youth Director Shawnessy YMCA

Find a handful of plastic containers (hummus, sour cream containers etc) and fill about half way with water.

Add a little food coloring.

 Search for a backyard nature collection: pine cones, fun shaped rocks, or maybe a nice healthy leaf from an indoor plant.  Next, place your nature items in the containers half filled with water. 

Submerge the end of a long piece of strong string or twine in each container.  You can either place them in your freezer, or outside if it is cold enough! 

When your natural artifact is frozen, carefully take the ice out of the container, and hang your ice ornament outside: from the porch, from a tree, wherever you like.


Fitting in Exercise

When the calendar page flips over to December, it often becomes clear that the little white slots aren’t looking too open! Families contend with many concerts, games, parties, activities and events that are out of the norm and certainly put a dent in any “free” time they have.

The busy season is no reason to put one’s exercise program aside. Although January is a very busy time for fitness facilities, why not get a jump start on healthy choices by continuing to work out in December? There is no rule that says it has to be a full hour; if you’re short on time then a shorter workout may be in order.

One of the hottest things in fitness right now is metabolic training. It is a short, challenging and effective workout that will take you from walking in the front door and walking back out again in half an hour. The key with this protocol is that the work phase is, indeed, HARD. Following a warm up of five to ten minutes is a set of intervals. They can be one minute on, one minute rest or can use other timing options. The important thing is that the work phase is an all out-hard as you can-earn your rest effort!

When deciding what to fit into your busy December, don’t forget that fitness can fit into your schedule. Just set aside that short period of time and then work hard!


Trainer’s Tips: Exercise during the Holidays

December and January are two months where people often go from 2 different extremes with their nutrition and exercise habits.

In December, many people “slack off” on their workouts and eat whatever they want over the holiday season. In January, people are determined to get back in shape, stick with their diet and continue to exercise regularly 2-3 times per week.

If you are a regular exerciser, remember that completely falling off the wagon by not exercising and throwing your diet away over the holidays can destroy several months of hard training. The less you slack off, the less amount of time it will take to get you back to your pre holiday shape.

If you do not regularly exercise and you are thinking about making that New Year’s resolution to start an exercise plan, think about starting now. In January, there are going to be many new members at fitness clubs that want to start a program. If you want to get a head of the crowd, sign up at the gym now before everyone else does. The holiday season is actually a great time to start a fitness program because gyms are usually quiet. You can establish a routine during your holiday time off without being overwhelmed by the crowd in the New Year. Exercise can help relieve some of the stresses associated with the season.

When it comes to your diet, there is no need to overindulge over the holidays but there is no need to not have fun either. It is perfectly fine to treat yourself now and again but don’t go overboard. Treat your body like a high end sports car and only put the best fuel in your body. If you are looking at making some serous gains in your fitness levels, proper nutrition is key. Eat for performance and not for pleasure.


Holiday Eating

Eating healthy food and avoiding weight gain during the holidays can be a challenge.

If you are doing the cooking, try these healthy substitutions:

  • When baking with butter, margarine, shortening or oil, substitute half the amount called for with apple sauce or prune puree.
  • Cook with chicken broth or canola oil instead of butter.
  • Substitute two egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitute for a whole egg
  • For fruit canned in heavy syrup, substitute fruit canned in its own juices or water, or fresh fruit.
  • When using any dairy, look for the lower fat option, substitute yogurt for sour cream
  • For ground beef, substitute extra-lean or lean ground beef, chicken or turkey.
  • Instead of regular mayonnaise or salad dressing, use reduced-calorie mayonnaise and salad dressings.
  • Use low-sodium or reduced-sodium versions of any soups, sauces, dressings or crackers or canned meat, fish or veggies.
  • Replace regular table salt with herbs, spices, or salt-free seasoning mixes or herb blends.
  • Try using whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, rice and pasta.
  • When baking, replace 1/2 the white flour with whole-wheat flour.

Avoid overeating at the company party. Plan ahead!

  • Eat a snack before the party to avoid facing all that delicious holiday food on an empty stomach.
  • Exercise earlier in the day and burn off some of those calories in advance.
  • Identify some favorite foods and plan ahead to indulge in a few of those items while filling up mostly on raw veggies and other, lighter items.
  • Drink plenty of water. Often you feel hungrier if you are thirsty. Also, avoid the alcoholic beverages – they encourage you to munch as you are uninhibited.
  • Find a coworker who also wants to avoid that holiday weight gain and agree to help one another resist temptation.

Don’t over do it at a big dinner. Avoid overeating by:

  • Drinking plenty of water during the festivities to keep feeling full.
  • Try to concentrate on non-food activities. Watch the big football game, catch up with cousins from out of town or play a game of chase with the kids in the backyard.
  • Bring a lighter holiday recipe to the event to introduce family to the idea.
  • Fill up on the lighter and healthier items on the buffet table. Pick pretzels instead of chips, fruit rather than heavy desserts and grilled or baked meats instead of fried items.
  • Use the smallest available plate to avoid piling up large portions of anything.
  • Don’t go back for seconds.
  • Politely refuse to take home leftovers, especially of rich, fattening holiday food.

Most likely we’ll all indulge a little. Don’t feel guilty. Keep up with your exercise routine to burn off some of the extra calories consumed. If you aren’t already exercising consider trying to add a 30-minute walk to your schedule, even if it’s only three days a week. With a little planning and a few smart recipe tips, healthy holiday eating doesn’t have to be outside your grasp.


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