YMCA of Greater Louisville

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The Y: We’re More Than A Gym; We’re A Cause

When someone says “The YMCA,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A gym? Swim lessons? The Village People? Well, we are a gym. We do give swim lessons. We are the focus of a late 70s song. But we’re also so much more! We’re child care and we’re future leaders. We’re group exercise classes and we’re nutrition advice. We’re LIVESTRONG® and we’re volunteers. We’re a community and we’re a cause.

You’ve seen it before; “The Y: We’re for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.” But what exactly does this mean, and what do we have to offer?

Youth Development: Sure, we have our swim lessons, but we have so many more offerings for young people in our community! We offer childcare for children of all ages, with our all-day Child Development Centers and our School-Age Child Care Program that offers before-and-after-school care for kids during the school year. Our Youth Sports offerings range from soccer to basketball to lacrosse, volleyball and plenty more, and all help kids make new friends while having fun learning how to play and work together as a team. Summer Day Camps keep kids busy and active during those summer months when they are out of school, while our overnight camp at Camp Piomingo is a life-changing experience for many who attend.

We also have a number of opportunities for your child to grow as a leader with our YMCA Black Achievers and Youth Achievers Programs, our Metro Youth Advocates Program and our Teen Leaders Clubs. Learn more about our Youth Development Programs now.

Healthy Living: In addition to our workout equipment, we offer a number of group exercise classes, ranging from Aqua Fitness to Yoga to Pilates, many of which are FREE for members! Our Boot Camps and TRX classes are excellent ways to add some variety to your workout. Looking for something more personalized? Set up a complimentary Wellness Appointment with one of our wellness coaches, or sign up for a session with one of our personal trainers.

Being healthy is more than just working out; it’s about developing healthy lifestyles. We have Nutritional Counseling, and programs like the YMCA Weight Loss Challenge, the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program and the LIVESTRONG® Cancer Survivor Program to help you on your path to a healthier life. Find out more about our Healthy Living offerings.

Social Responsibility: At the Y, strengthening community is our cause. Whether through services we provide for youth and families in crisis with our Safe Place Program, our Adult Day Health Center,  the Chestnut Street Family YMCA Transitional Shelter, our involvement with the ESL Newcomer Academy, our community advocacy and more, we are always looking to provide support to our neighbors. Learn more about our dedication to Social Responsibility.

We invite you to become part of our cause today!


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7 Ways to Comfort Kids in Difficult Times

ImageThe YMCA of Greater Louisville is the largest provider of child care in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and we, along with the nation, watched in shock as the tragic events unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut.

Our hearts go out to every person that was touched by those events. We know that children will have questions about what happened, and we as the Y, feel that it is important for us to help parents communicate on this difficult issue.

Below are some guidelines that can be used if/when your child seeks answers:

  1. Try to exhibit a sense of calm in the presence of children.
  2. Create a safe environment and allow children to freely express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear or consequences. Ask and discuss what makes them feel safe.
  3. If the topic arises, ask how they feel and let them know that you understand. Validate their feelings and let them know that how they feel is OK. Sympathize and empathize with them.
  4.  Allow children to put their grief and/or emotions into action, i.e. write a letter or draw a picture.
  5. Be age appropriate, but direct, when answering questions. If the topic comes up, families should be encouraged to take breaks from the media coverage.
  6. Take note of any behaviors that seem to be out of character for the child as this may indicate the need to seek professional intervention. Behaviors can include, but are not limited to, persistent nightmares, bed wetting, soiling, aggressive behavior, isolating, etc.
  7. Maintaining normalcy in routines can also be helpful and comforting in these situations.

The Y will continue to work with our local experts to learn how we can continue to maximize the safety of our facilities and programs.

My favorite day of the year ….

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As a YMCA staff person, we all probably have tasks, assignments, and times of the year that we like more than others.  My favorite day of the year is the beginning of YMCA summer camp. It is filled with excited kids, nervous parents, well trained staff, and a (slightly anxious) Director.  It’s hard to explain my excitement and anticipation.  We started planning for camp last summer…… before the summer was even over.  We began putting together promotional stuff in December.  We began hiring in January and we’ve been full steam ahead since then!

The beginning of camp is an important day for our YMCA.  It’s a chance to live our promise to our community and that we will impact youth in a positive way.  We’ll help our camp kids learn and grow, with caring adults right by their side cheering them on.  We’ll teach them about healthy decision, make fitness fun, and role model good behavior.  We’ll help them make friends and find their missing lunch, all in the same day.

The day that camp starts is a great day. Hands down, the best day of the year.

I can’t wait to go to work!

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Ending bullying is a shared responsibility

Bully movie posterEarlier today, I had intended to write a blog post about this no sugar experiment my roommate and I are doing, but then I went to the movies. And I cried. I shook my hands at the movie screen a few times, laughed a few times, but I mostly cried. The movie that got me all worked-up is the documentary Bully. In short, it’s a wonderfully crafted film that follows five different families who are struggling with different aspects of the bullying crisis in America. There’s a family whose son ended his own life at age 17 after being harassed at school for years. A teenage girl whose whole family has been ostracized since she came out as being gay. And then there’s the 12 year-old boy, Alex, who has a heart of gold and a gorgeous smile, but he comes off as “weird” to other kids and is constantly physically and verbally bullied by classmates.

I’m not writing a movie review on the YMCA blog (though I will say it was amazing and powerful and worth seeing–check out the trailer here). I’m writing about this movie today because the parents and young people in the film, while they struggle and feel deep pain, are working to try to make change and to improve the lives of children in America, and that falls right in line with our work at the Y. One area of focus for the YMCA is Youth Development. We believe that all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they really are and what they can achieve. Through our many different programs, from childcare to sports to leadership development, we work to cultivate values and skills in children that will help them make positive choices in their lives. But this work isn’t just the responsibility of the YMCA–it falls on us all.

The film tonight showed just how much power lay in our words and actions–how deeply they can hurt and how high they can lift. We may not be on the playground or the school bus anymore, but us adults can fall into similar patterns, like gossiping and forming cliques, that share the same elements of childhood bullying. I don’t have children and don’t know if I will ever have any, but I want to set a positive example for any kids I might encounter by living and speaking in a way that doesn’t demean or hurt others. Doing that won’t always be easy or comfortable (just flip on the TV or open a magazine; our media is often glorified gossip) but it’s something I think we could all stand to do.

To learn more about the movement to end bullying, please check out Stand for the Silent, an organization founded by the Smalley family after they lost their 11 year-old son to suicide.

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Philanthropy…What It Really Means

Today we have a guest blog post from our fearless leader and CEO, Steve Tarver…

The last 10 days have been an incredible set of experiences both professionally and personally. Last Thursday, I returned from a 6 day trip to Hong Kong. I flew from Hong Kong to Boston and then drove to Newport, Rhode Island, where I watched my son graduate from Naval Officer Development School. Both experiences were unbelievable privileges to experience. In the middle of it all, our own community had to respond to the weather related needs.

I was able to spend time at the Hong Kong YMCA, a 110 year old organization with a rich history in this bustling city of 7.5 million people living in a very small area. It’s a very diverse city that has history, modern business, great wealth, and poverty all within blocks of each other. Hong Kong has the greatest wealth gap in the world.

I was there to share case studies on membership, youth development, and community health. (This was a result of the Louisville YMCA’s reputation in these areas. Thanks to all our staff and volunteers for allowing this to be the case.) Included in the group were representatives from the Asia Pacific Alliance of YMCAs made up of 27 countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines, among others.

During the presentation on community health, I was talking about diabetes, obesity, and tobacco policy, lifestyle for granted when the initial issues raised were malnutrition, malaria, and dengue (acute viral disease similar to malaria also called “breakbone disease”). The Y’s located there are doing amazing work in health, community development, education, and human rights.

Even in Hong Kong, I became aware of the severe weather rolling in. Fortunately, our immediate area was spared, unlike our neighbors just to the north. Our terrific staff began to look at ways to help before the wind stopped blowing. Laurie Madden from challenged us to help. Melanie Cox made contact with a local church  in Henryville. Andy Pierce coordinated with the Red Cross. Within hours, each of our Y’s, had set up collection stations and lists of needed items. Many staff, members, neighbors, and volunteers contributed in many ways – communication, coordination, logistics, and delivery.

It started by providing 20 tables to a church so that meals could be served. Following were 3 trailer loads of supplies, mostly cleaning supplies and toiletries. One of our members, a five year old girl, however, donated her personal bible given to her as an infant…”I want those children to have it, Momma,” she said.

The Y family gave until being told that the need had been met. All done within about 72 hours. Do you see why I say so frequently what a privilege it is to serve with our staff and volunteers?

My son is now a Lieutenant in the US Navy.  He will serve as an audiologist at the 29 Palms Marine Base in California.  The Naval Station Newport is on a peninsula where it is very cold and windy this time of year.  My son told of training in the “Rose Garden” (a sand pit) and highly regimented procedures, meal times, and great honor in the work that is done.  I was able to observe some of the closing training activities including comments of the “Chief” – their drill instructor, and several of the staff officers.  Even though the Chief had frequently kicked their butts, woke them with whistles and bullhorns (sometimes after only 30-60 minutes of sleep), and took them to the Rose Garden, they loved the guy.

I was touched by a couple of things.  First was the amazing commitment that these men and women have to the protection of our freedom and rights – past, present, and future.  There are regular references to the willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice in these protections.  How many of us profess a willingness to die as part of our jobs?

Second were the comments made by Chief Hebert (pronounced a’-bear). He gave them 5 guidelines for success. The first was, “Integrity is everything. Without integrity, you have nothing and are lost.”

The second comment was, “There is no room for ‘drama’. You must maintain a focus on the MISSION!”

And this brings us to today. Our Annual Giving Campaign is not about drama. It’s about a passionate commitment to allowing those in our community that can benefit from a relationship with the YMCA to become part of the Y family. You have heard many stories of the impact of these experiences.

Philanthropy – from Greek, “to love people”. We are blessed to have such an attitude in our country. That’s all we are offering to our friends and colleagues –please focus on the mission!

Thank you for your PHILANTHROPY!


Pack your bags!

Teens from across the community will soon be venturing to India, and there is still time for you to get involved.  The YMCA has a program called Youth Ambassadors Abroad, this program hosts teen exchanges with other YMCAs.  One partner program that we work with are the YMCA’s in Mumbai and New Delhi.  This summer we will send a group of teens to India for July 17th to the 31st.  They will have the opportunity to meet up with teens from India, develop lifelong friendships, and observe and support Y community projects.  There will also be time for sightseeing and the opportunity to visit some of India’s cultural and historical sites.  This program is for teens age 15 to 19 (don’t worry parents, there will be adult Y chaperones too!)  The cost of the program is $2200 per person, and financial assistance is available for a limited number of teens.  The application deadline is April 2, 2012.  For more information contact Cindy at our association office cnordhoff@ymcalouisville.org  Don’t let this amazing opportunity pass you by!