YMCA Calgary > YMCA Community Action Network (YCAN)

YMCA Community Action Network (YCAN)


The YMCA Community Action Network (YCAN) supports youth, aged 15-30 years old, in Calgary as they develop and deliver projects that address needs in their community, in a way that is meaningful to them.


In partnership with 16 other YMCAs across Canada, youth from underrepresented communities are brought together to meet others from different backgrounds, discover their potential, and see their ability to create impact in the world around them; meeting them where they are, to increase their social and employment skills, confidence, and community engagement.


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Through YCAN, youth have the opportunity to:

  • Discover your potential to make a positive impact in the community through the planning, development and implementation of service projects based on community need and participant interest.
  • Explore personal interests and learn about your community through experiential learning.
  • Develop social and employment skills for future employment and volunteer opportunities.
  • Remove barriers to your participation in community outreach and volunteer opportunities.
  • Collaborate and build relationships with other organizations in Calgary.
  • Receive a complimentary YMCA Membership.
  • Earn high school credits and volunteer hours for your participation, wherever applicable.

    Upon completion of 120 service hours though YCAN, youth will receive a reference letter which can be used for future work and education purposes.


    Quotes from YCAN Alumni:

    “I was able to speak up for myself and my community.”
    – Cohort 3, YCAN Alumni


    “I felt most proud of myself when I was able to look at the completed project and know that I was a part of it’s creation and success.”
    – Cohort 4/5, YCAN Alumni


    “YCAN is what ever you want it to be. It’s a way to make your ideas tangible…it’s making your ideas into something real while having a good time.”
    – Cohort 7, YCAN Almuni

YCAN Cohort 13 Blog


During the week of Monday, April 25 - Friday, April 29, the YCAN Cohort 13 will be publishing blog posts focused on intergenerational relationships and their significance to bring awareness to Intergenerational Week. Learn more about some of the interviews they have done with individuals from the Kerby Centre.



April 29th - Lessons Learned from the Kerby Centre

Hello Everyone! This is blog posting #5 for intergenerational week. Today we wanted to focus more on the life lessons we have learned at the Kerby Centre. We were fortunate enough to be able to speak to a group of older women who were knitting/crocheting. They told us many different life lessons and shared with us their different experiences and wisdom. We chatted for hours about the most random topics but each topic always had meaning behind it.


The golden rule that many of the women agreed on was to, ‘treat others the way you want to be treated.” We found this to be such an important lesson because it is so simple. They are not asking us to do something complicated. Just love everyone and treat others in a good way. Doing this will help you to live a successful and most importantly, a happy life. We also learned to count our blessings. It is not right to hold grudges, because we often take things for granted. These women said that as they got older, they had more restrictions. They cannot do the things they want to do because of their physical health. So be grateful every day. We believe that this is important because more and more teenagers especially have trouble counting their blessings. Create those fun experiences when you can and to not take things for granted. For example, I (Danbee) like to stay inside and watch Netflix. My parents often ask me to go on walks with them and I usually decline. I took from this experience at Kerby Centre that I should be grateful I have parents and a wonderful city to go on walks in. From now on, I won’t take them for granted and live every day more happily. As mentioned earlier, the older adults that we talked to said they have many more restrictions due to their health even if their mind is still motivated. This leads to mental block.


Another part of the interview that stood out to us was being able to learn about the culture of each and every person in the room, a valuable piece of discussion that wasn’t planned and instead flowed naturally into the conversation. In fact, the idea came from one of the women sitting at the table and she asked for each of us to tell a short story about where we were born and where our parents are from. This small addition to our discussion was very fascinating because each person told a different story, with some sharing that they were born across the world, and some shared that they have moved many different times before settling in Calgary. I (Nina), was very grateful for this opportunity to share my family roots because a major part of my identity is embedded within my heritage. My family is from Kimry, Russia and although I was born in Calgary, I was raised at home in a very Russian way. My grandma’s knitted slippers, the soups my dad makes, the cross-stitched pieces of art hanging on our walls at home, my name, my blonde hair and blue eyes all remind me of Russia and the sacrifices my family made to immigrate here in order to have a better quality of life. When I was younger, I felt very insecure about being Russian because a lot of the kids that I grew up with in kindergarten and elementary school spoke English with their parents which was something I could never relate to. I


wanted to fit in. I wanted to have a shorter last name that wasn’t hard to pronounce. Now I know that I have a very unique last name, I find it cool that I can fluently speak in Russian and I would be happy to discuss the ups and downs of my parents' life with others. The older adult who initiated this conversation helped remind me that I am proud of who I am and I realized that asking where someone is from can create a friendly discussion filled with many stories and it can also help us respect each other’s cultures.


That is the end of our blog post and intergenerational week! Although it is celebrated for a week once a year, it should never leave our hearts. The lessons that we learn and relationships we create should be with us all 365 days throughout the year. Thank you so much!!!!



Click here to read previous blog posts

April 28th – The Importance of Intergeneration Relationships

An important aspect of building a strong community is the intergenerational relationships and bonds we form between all ages. Despite there being the relationships between grandparents and grandchildren, intergenerational relationships bring a sense of tighter-knit communities. Uniting each generation in ways that support an understanding of one another is essential for the lasting relationships we develop. An older adult mentioned that youth involved in intergenerational relationships, beyond grandchildren and grandparents, are more patient with older adults. Intergenerational relationships are important to all ages as they connect each generation into one large community. Each generation has diverse ideas and knowledge which leads to a combination of various relationships between one another. Having these relationships may be as simple as talking on the phone with your grandmother or helping at a center for older adults. These relationships go full circle and consist of various generations coming together.


Although we have relationships with our grandparents and grandchildren, it is important to recognize the intergenerational relationships we have beyond this. A major part of this is the exchange of ideas and knowledge. Each generation has distinct strengths due to different upbringings which ultimately leads to a variety of new ideas and teachings. Some older adults during our interview with the Kirby


Center mentioned how they had to take certain computer classes to learn technology. Now, younger generations are also able to help in these situations as they have experience with the newer devices. Having these intergenerational relationships brings people of all ages together. It allows both sides to educate each other and helps to remove biases. During our interview at the Kerby Centre, an older adult mentioned how they were walking down a sidewalk with a group of youth in front of him. The youth did not step aside, and the older adult was made to feel as though he was invisible. Understanding and developing intergenerational relationships within our generations is a large step in building a stronger community and a sense of belonging.


April 27th – Transitioning from Adulthood to Seniority

One of the major ideas explored during our interview with the Kerby Center was the transition from adulthood to seniority. As youth, the prospect of being an adult is often treated with great enthusiasm; imagining all the possibilities adulthood unlocks. This optimistic attitude, viewed in retrospect by the seniors, is considered overrated. The so-called “freedom” one gains from being an adult will be masked by the cascade of new responsibilities. In comparison, the process of living into seniorhood presents a purer freedom. Freed from the previous shackles of responsibility, the older adults at Kerby Centre believe that their seniority finally provided them with true freedom. This transition is major, as previously the hassles of adulthood fill up most of the time in the day. As these hassles fade away with age, more and more time is freed up. The problem of “I don’t have enough time” turns into “I have too much time to fill”


Similar to the transition between adulthood and seniorhood, transitioning from your late teenage years to young adults can be a very scary/new experience in your life. Usually, what people don’t realize is that with growing older comes more responsibility, and depending on how you deal with it, this responsibility can be your very own success story or your downfall. The part that most people, we believe, are oblivious to is the fact that you have become your own independent entity, meaning you can’t rely on everyone else to help you in every single situation; that being said, we’re also not stating that it is always a bad thing to receive help from other people but to be more self-reliant is what helps shape people into being independent adults.


Any change at all can be frightening, and the transition between being an adult to a senior is, while slow, a very large change. It brings with it more freedom than before, and in contrast to the transition between youth and adult, this freedom is not diluted by responsibilities.



April 26th – Intergenerational Relationships and Their Significance

Today for intergenerational week, we are exploring the idea of youthhood in the past and how it connects to present day. We are also exploring children and youth time frames while discussing both experiences of current youth and youthhood remembered by older adults.


Multiple older adults have said today’s youth face much more challenges such as navigating public transportation networks, protecting one’s self, constantly changing societal norms, advances in technology and many other requirements needed to get by in today’s world. Up until the age of 40, significant events happen in a person’s youth. Certain older adults we spoke with say that the birth of their children, their weddings and career milestones as well as significant events regarding their hobbies, were very significant in their younger part of life.


Some advantages for youth include easier access to information through the internet, and better transportation. However, older adults also expressed that young people today have far more challenges in areas of drugs, peer pressure, and harsher laws. Safety for youth today was brought up by multiple older adults, “even walking on the streets [as a young woman] you need to be careful.” Disadvantages older adults pointed out in the discussions included going to see the doctor more often, and more medication. Deterioration of health was emphasized. Another older adult said, “one of the advantages of being older was that you were free from all the responsibilities and duties you were chained to in your younger life” and, “to elaborate, you don’t have to stress about your children as they are all settled, as well as stressing about work as you are retired.” One older adult pointed out “you can spend more time doing things you enjoy, such as traveling and seeing the world” while others in the conversation agreed.



April 25th – Welcome to Intergenerational Week!

May 1st is Intergenerational week! The YCAN Cohort 13 group’s project focused on intergenerational relationships and their significance. YCAN (YMCA Community Action Network) is a YMCA-run program that is offered to youth from the age of 15 to 30. It is a youth action group that discusses issues and develops projects based on the needs and wants of our community. Cohort 13 decided to address and confront the stigma and stereotypes often surrounding intergenerational relationships in today’s society. The members of our Cohort are interested in how the lack of togetherness of different generations has affected not only us but people of the older generations too.


We were able to meet with the Kerby Centre, a non-profit organization for those 55 and above. Kerby Centre offers non-profit homes and limited housing along with various activities to engage them along with tax help for anyone meeting the age requirements. We split our cohort into an AM interview group and a PM interview group. There were group interviews conducted in the style of dialogue conversations and questions were asked to older adults about aging and ageism. Our group prioritized the inter-generational aspect of the questions and worked to form relationships with the older adults at the Kerby Centre.


We wanted the group conversations to flow organically, which was essential for the development of relationships and conversations. We took notes on the conversation held and Q&A from the interviews and will be turning them into blogs which will be posted throughout the intergenerational week April 25th – May 1st as a form of advocacy. Do look forward to our blogs this week. We hope you enjoy the posts.