The YMCA is a nonprofit organization committed to strengthening communities. Through healthy living and social responsibility initiatives, they impact residents on a state and global scale. In Michigan alone, 83% of people live within five miles of a YMCA program. These game-changing efforts are designed to nurture, educate and uplift those who need it most. They go wherever the need is. The YMCA has more than 70 physical locations across the state. But, a considerable amount of their work is done in the field. That includes churches, schools and in some cases, parks. Programs are not restricted to one space, making it easier to accommodate those living in more isolated areas. They’re dedicated to improving child water safety. In 2015, a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, helped kickstart the YMCA’s Safety Around Water (SAW) program. It teaches children life-saving skills that will reduce the risk of drowning, while increasing confidence and awareness around water. By partnering with organizations, such as the Red Cross and Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium, the YMCA’s part of a statewide coalition tackling this as a public health issue. They bridge the gap between clinic and community. The YMCA’s healthy living programs help to manage or prevent chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. These evidence-based courses emphasize self-monitoring and regular check-ins to track progress. There are also exercise programs like Enhance Fitness that cater to individuals with physical limitations due to arthritis or other mobility issues. They help kids eat better and move more. The YMCA’s before and after school (BAS) programs provide students with nutrition education and guidelines to increase physical activity. In 2018, nearly 6,000 children enrolled with more than 70 percent stemming from high-need areas. Since the initial launch in 2014, more than 61,000 youths have benefited from the BAS programs. They provide affordable childcare. At least 60 percent of YMCA locations offer infant childcare services. They provide a safe and secure environment without the excessive fees. To eliminate financial barriers, there are multiple payment options for participants to choose from. Whether it’s a sliding scale or an installment plan, scholarship dollars are set aside for those requiring assistance. Their efforts are all-inclusive. The YMCA’s goal is to serve the whole family. People of all ages can benefit from efforts that encourage community and strengthen interpersonal relationships. For example: Their “Togetherhood” program, connects seniors with young people to collaborate on social responsibility projects that improve their surroundings. Thank you to the State Alliance of Michigan YMCAs! If you’re impressed by their work, please visit Michiganymca.org and learn how you can support those in your community. Photo credit: SDI Productions
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