YMCA of Greater Louisville

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Community Challenge for Monday, May 14

By Guest Blogger, Steve Tarver, President/CEO

Over the last decade, the YMCA of Greater Louisville has been reinventing itself.  With the decline in the health of our community, we have turned our gaze outward. We continue to work hard for the thousands of people who come into our branches to play basketball, swim, learn yoga or just socialize. We have hundreds of success stories – people who have lost weight, recovered from injury, reduced the impact of chronic disease and found new careers through their involvement in the Y.

But a building full of healthy folks in the midst of a community that continues to be plagued by obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other preventable conditions is not how we envision success. We are not just a fitness facility – we are a non-profit organization committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We wish to explore the root causes of people’s health issues and one of those, the research shows, is education. That’s why we are increasingly engaged with our community and many other community organizations to see how we can play a role in raising educational achievement in Louisville.

We Support Out-of-School-Time Learning.  There is growing evidence that academic achievement is greatly enhanced by summer learning programs as well as before- and after-school care enrichment. New  research indicates that in some cases children’s tests scores were  one month lower when they returned to school in fall than when they left in spring if they had no significant involvement in summer time learning.

Since your YMCA is the state’s largest day care provider and we have more than 3,100 children enrolled each week in our summer camps, we can provide those opportunities. We are actively engaged in the community’s 55,000 Degrees, working to build a culture in our community of college-going (and completion) behavior. The community’s challenge is to make more learning available for children outside the classroom, and we are working collaboratively to put together a comprehensive network of quality, safe and engaging activities for children during their out-of-school time.

Several Y branches offer tutoring for kids after school and last year our summer camps added reading as one of their activities. Many of the children in our summer camps participate in the Louisville Free Public Library’s summer reading program. Later this year, the Y will initiate an early learning readiness program aimed at families whose children are not in structured child care settings. Along with many other community organizations, we will work with Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens to extend learning opportunities.

And of course the Y will continue in its long-standing role. Keeping kids active in our before- and after-school care and sports programs goes hand-in-hand with academic performance.

We also use the Y5210 program for both in-school and out-of-school youth. Developed in partnership with Humana and the Mayor’s Health Hometown Movement, Y5210 reaches 10,000 JCPS students daily. It spreads the word of good health through an easy formula:

5 – Servings of fruits and vegetables every day

2- Hours or less of screen time

1 – Hour of physical activity daily

0 – Sugar-sweetened beverages

Feedback from the program indicates that children who participate have more focus in the classroom, improved attention spans, fewer behavior disruptions and increased awareness of healthy activity and food choices. Why not adopt these guidelines in your own home?

Along with struggles with academic performance, today’s children are facing a future of overweight and obesity. Just last week, it was reported the obesity epidemic is expected to worsen, with more children and adults affected. It’s doesn’t have to be that way.

You can make a difference in the life of a child. Be engaged. Make sure the children you live or work with are engaged. Put away the electronic devices. Participate in a sports program. Take a walk in a park. Start today.

Together, we can build a stronger, healthier and BETTER EDUCATED community.


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Vote in Kentucky–May 22

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your note is never lost — John Quincy Adams

If you want to get me riled up (and why would you want to do a thing like that?), you can tell me you’re not voting because your vote “doesn’t count.” Few utterances make me want to jump from my chair and shake a person like this one. When I turned 18, the most exciting thing for me was to register to vote, and I have voted in every primary and general election since. I love voting!

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there is plenty that needs fixing in our electoral systems, from policies that disenfranchise citizens to confusion over what races to vote in, but even with these different problems, voting and having a say in who represents you in government is too important a right to squander. Seriously, I could go on and on and on about voting and the importance of civic engagement in and outside the polling booth (stop by the Southwest YMCA and maybe we can chat about it some more). Heck, it wasn’t all that long ago that women had to fight for the right to cast a vote in this country. That reason alone is compelling enough for me to vote–to honor the women who worked so hard to give me that right.

Kentuckians have a chance to exercise their right to vote next Tuesday, May 22nd in the state’s primary election. Voter turnout in primaries is often dismal, but this is an exciting year, especially for Louisvillians as many races for State House, State Senate, and Metro Council have multiple candidates running in both parties. If you’re unsure of where to vote, visit the Board of Elections site to locate your polling place and what districts you’re in. And take the time to educate yourself before voting. So often, especially with smaller local races, people may not know who is on the ballot until Election Day, so check out a sample ballot for your area and learn more about the candidates. I always appreciate this nonpartisan voter guide put out each election cycle that publishes candidates’ responses to surveys on issues impacting Kentuckians.

Polls are open 6am to 6pm next Tuesday, May 22nd–don’t forget to vote!

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Zumba Experience

By guest blogger, Nina Walfoort

I had foot surgery last year and spent most of the following four months on the couch and limping around in my attractive navy blue Bledsoe Bunion Walking boot. When I could finally walk in a shoe, my foot felt like a brick in a wooden box.  I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be any tennis in my future.

But I did slowly return to normal activity. Feeling did slowly return to my enlarged toes. And the best thing I did to hasten my recovery was to start Zumba classes at the YMCA.

It really does keep you on your toes. All those little steps! All that toe-tapping!  All that lunging and squatting!  I was having a ball, learning some dance moves and immediately seeing much improved flexibility in my feet.

And now the Louisville Free Public Library is including a Zumba lesson in its How-To Festival this Saturday, May 12. The festival promises to teach you 50 things in five hours including how to make beer, start a conversation and raise chickens. Go to www.lfpl.org/how-to/ for the full schedule. I recommend the Zumba demo, featuring one of my favorite YMCA Zumba instructors Becky Griffin, at 2 pm in the downtown branch at 301 York Street.

So if you go and get the Latin beat and want more, come to the YMCA classes at your local branch if you are a Y member. And don’t forget, our schedules are available at ymcalouisville.org.  We have dozens of great instructors and classes at all hours. Come downtown on the weekend. The light-footed one in the back of the class is me!

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Choices by Tom Whortan

It is happening again, I look up and realize that I do not like some of the choices I am making. I know, the bad choices are so much easier, grab fast food instead of cooking something healthier, plop in front of the TV instead of interacting with the family or walking the dog, watching 15 minutes more TV instead of reading to your child at bedtime.  Choices, we have so many of them every day and honestly I am not sure we ever really think about how important the little ones are over time. How many people would agree with the statement “I would love two weeks every year to spend with my kids or spouse” imagine what we could accomplish in those two weeks, how valued they would feel. Well 15 minutes every day adds up to two weeks every year.  I can find that two weeks, can you?

Most of us have seen the Cola commercial where the guy asks “and?” after each thing that happens in his life and something even cooler happens. But that commercial misses the most important “and” question he (and we) should be asking. The one we ask of ourselves, “and what can I do for him/her/them?” Instead of waiting for the next cool thing, why not be the next cool thing? It really is just about choices, choosing our attitude, actions and behaviors.

We all get the big choices and how important they are. Getting married, having kids, accepting a job, joining a church, we can list them and we all get that they matter to us, our families and those close to us. But those little choices we face every day, do we really pay attention to what they do, how much they add up to mean. If it is true that “we are what we repeatedly do” then those daily choices become our habits, they make us who we are.  Here are some questions about those little choices:

  • Did you tell your spouse (significant other, etc….) how much they mean to you before you left this morning?
  • When was the last time you hugged your kid this week, just because?
  • Have you thanked someone for doing something they should have/would have done anyway, just because it will make them feel appreciated?
  • Did you let someone in the traffic line even if you were in a hurry?
  • Called your Mom lately? (Not just for Mother’s Day)
  • Got a best friend?  Told them they are important recently?
  • When was the last time you did something to benefit someone who could not help you in any way?
  • How did you treat that person at work today, you know the one that really does not fit in, ignore, ostracize or were you pleasant?
  • Do you smile at the cashier and say thank you for ringing up your purchase?

Ok, you get the idea. Choices we all make them, every day. Sometimes I even make the right one, how about you?

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Dear Today…

I’m an avid blog reader. In fact, I have about 20(ish) blogs that I try to read on a daily basis. Blog reading serves as a lunch-time getaway, an end-of-the-day de-stressor, but to be quite frank, I read blogs because I like to live vicariously through other people’s drama. Truth. Sure, I can get my drama fix through The Bachelor/ette but  those new seasons don’t come around every day, you know. Today I’m taking inspiration from a friend’s blog and writing short letters to life…

Dear Wednesday,

My attention span is about thisssss long today. Yep, that’s all you get.

Dear to-do list,

Trim it up a little bit, buddy. Either that or figure out some way to make your tasks more appealing.

Dear Derby,

Thanks for the sunburn (which is slowly turning to a tan, I’m insistent). Oh, and the awesome people-watching. However, to the lady sitting on my right with the awful, glitzy, policeman-looking hat… I took a picture of you and sent it to my friends as an example of a truly unfortunate looking hairpiece. Sorry about that.

Dear $11 Mint Julep at the Derby,


Dear workout motivation,

Um, hellooooo? You’ve got some explaining to do. Where have you traveled off to now? Figure out some way to teleport back… and quick. It’s swimsuit season. Please and thanks.

Dear 85-degree weather,

It’s not you, it’s me. I’m just not a fan. I’m getting used to you but my Monday afternoon outside run? Killer. I know you’re inevitable and that you’re only going to get hotter but give a girl a break. That sweat all over/on my face – not cute. I guess you’re made a little more bareable when Target preps me for you with cute shorts on sale for $15.

And on a bit more of a serious note…


Dear everyone reading this post,

This week is National Childcare Provider’s Appreciation Week, as well as Teacher Appreciation Week. Take a minute and thank your kids’ babysitter, thank their teacher, thank your Mom who watches your kids on the weekend, thank the bus driver who brings your kids home safely every afternoon, thank the principal at your child’s school, and thank these people even if you don’t have kids of your own.  Kids are pretty awesome people but they need a little guidance, a little love, and a little nurturing. All of the people listed above give kids a place where they can be just that – kids, so be sure to say thanks!