Tag Archives: YMCA

Saddletowne YMCA Opens Saturday!

YMCA has gotten the thumbs up from our construction company to open the doors of Saddletowne YMCA in northeast Calgary. This new YMCA location opens on Saturday January 7 at 7am. There are a few spaces still under construction, but for the most part, the facility will be open for full use.

Get ready for:

  • Two swimming pools
  • Hot tub
  • Steam room
  • Gymnasium
  • Three multi-purpose studios
  • Weight floor
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Running track
  • And more!

Don’t forget the official Grand Opening Celebrations for the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness take place the weekend of January 14 & 15. Festivities start Saturday at 11am in the Commons area and continue all weekend long. Everyone is invited and no RSVP required.


OPENING! Saddletowne YMCA Opens Saturday!

YMCA has gotten the thumbs up from our construction company to open the doors of Saddletowne YMCA in northeast Calgary. This new YMCA location opens on Saturday January 7 at 7am. There are a few spaces still under construction, but for the most part, the facility will be open for full use.

Get ready for:

  • Two swimming pools
  • Hot tub
  • Steam room
  • Gymnasium
  • Three multi-purpose studios
  • Weight floor
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Running track
  • And more!

Don’t forget the official Grand Opening Celebrations for the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness take place the weekend of January 14 & 15. Festivities start Saturday at 11am in the Commons area and continue all weekend long. Everyone is invited and no RSVP required.


YMCA Fact: Immigrant Services since 1870s

  • As far back as the 1870s classes were held to provide training to help citizens and immigrants find work.
  • In the 1930s, the YMCA initiated strategies to support unemployed by providing job counseling and training programs to teach skills.
  • The recession of the 1980s generated a host of additional employment, training and literacy programs for youth and adults, including unemployed youth at risk.
  • In the 1990s, the YMCA, with the private sector and federal government, launched a national youth internship program, to help give unemployed youth work experience. The Y’s settlement services continue to assist new immigrants in becoming oriented to life in Canada.
  • Did you know YMCA Calgary has an Immigrant Services area? Click here to find out more.


YMCA Fact: Swimming Since 1888

The Y has been teaching swimming since the first Y pools were built in 1888. In 1906, a Y staff member started a revolutionary style of swimming by teaching groups swim strokes using land drills before going into the water.

Even the military relied on the YMCA’s new swim instructions with WWI soldiers using land drills to learn strokes and survival swimming by wearing 60 pounds of gear in deep water. During the 1930s, the Y developed Canada’s first national standards for drown proofing, resusitation and scuba diving as well as test standards for swimming lessons that are still used today.


YMCA Fact: CDN Universities

Concordia University was originally founded by the YMCA of Montreal when it formed the Montreal YMCA Schools in 1926, which later became Sir George William University (named after the founder of the YMCA), before taking on its current name.

The YMCA of Ottawa saw a need for higher education and started Carleton College in 1942 as a post-secondary institution, open to everyone, with full-scale day and evening classes. The College later became Carleton University.

The YMCA of North Toronto was instrumental in the development of York University in 1959.


YMCA Fact: Basketball Invented at YMCA

Basketball was invented by Canadian YMCA Physical Director, James Naismith in December 1891. He was given just two weeks to come up with an indoor game that would amuse students more than standard calisthenics.

Hanging peach baskets to gymnasium balconies, Naismith tacked 13 rules to the wall and unveiled his game to the students. The game was an instant hit. The peach basket was quickly replaced by a wire basket with a hole in the bottom, through which a broom handle could be inserted to pop the ball out, after a bucket had been scored.


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 confirms the benefits of 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.


2011 YMCA Peace Medal Recipients

On Wednesday, November 23, our inspiring group of nominees were honoured at this year’s YMCA Peace Medal awards.  And the 2011 Peace Medal recipients are…

Humanitarian – Leor Rotchild

When Leor moved to Calgary ten years ago, he was enticed by the city’s potential of making a positive impact on the world stage. Leor began getting involved in an array of different issues. Today, he remains firmly rooted with a hand in multiple projects that covers many issues including corporate responsibility, environmental sustainability and civic engagement.

The numerous initiatives Leor has been involved in have made a profound impact on Calgarians, Canadians and even citizens of the world. His work in corporate responsibility has helped large influential organizations reflect on their impact on the community.

“What I’ve realized is that there are people all over the place doing all kinds of inspiring work, says Leor.  “When you do get started, you connect with these people and you realize there’s so much strength in numbers.”

Among his many projects, Leor helped reduce the environmental footprint at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. He has grown the Folk Festival’s Environment Program to reduce the festival’s total waste by 75% while diverting 58% of that away from the landfill through a sophisticated recycling and composting program.  Leor took the program one step further and eliminated bottled water at the festival.

Leor is also the co-founder of the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival. The festival showcases documentaries from around the world involving social justice and environment.

“My advice to people is just start somewhere, whether it’s internally, within the community or somewhere around the world, says Leor. “You can do something and make a difference. The beautiful thing is it makes your community better, and it makes yourself better.”

Leor Rotchild embodies peace and commitment to others in his everyday life. Leor reminds us that no issue is too large to tackle.

Community Group – Push to Open Nature Society

Push to Open Nature Society is a diverse group of people who provide the tools, kindness, and compassion needed to make inclusion for people with disabilities in all Alberta parks.  Together with volunteers, they hosts many outdoor adventures including hiking, kayaking and exploring the forest.

“Nature doesn’t have any building codes,” says Don Carruthers Den Hoed. “You can’t change how steep a mountain is or what the weather is going to do but with teamwork, creativity, passion and patience, you can make anything accessible and barrier free.”

Push to Open Nature Society helps people with disabilities feel like they can do various outdoor activities with their friends, family, co-workers, or even on their own.

“As a mother of two young ladies with disabilities, the first time I came out to one of these events, I was truly changed, says Sheila Crabbe. “It was the first time I’ve seen true inclusion and since then, what I strive for in the lives of my children has changed.

Push to Open Nature Society reminds people that they do not need to let their disabilities define or deny them the chance to live life to the fullest.

Community Individual – Gerald Wheatley

Gerald has worked tirelessly in the community of Sunnyside and across the city of Calgary in bringing people together to try new ways of recovering citizenship and sustainable living. Through many organizations, he is challenging citizens and elected officials to act responsibly on new knowledge related to social issues, environmental integrity and long term economic well being.

“Calgary’s in a position to change so quickly over the next few years, says Gerald. “It’s a really exciting time to be more sustainable.”

He has contributed to extraordinary at the Arusha Centre and on programs such as Calgary Carsharing, Calgary Dollars, the Coalition for a Healthy Calgary, Public Interest Alberta, and the Old Y Centre.  In addition, Gerald has developed a bioregional curriculum for Calgary schools.

“When I was in high school, we had a youth action group and we only had one rule – If you’re going to complain about something, you have to get involved in solving it,” says Gerald.

Gerald Wheatley is passionate about creating positive change in his community and will continue to strive for success in sustainability and environmental integrity.

Community Youth – Diversity and Student for Change Council at Bob Edwards Junior High School

Diversity and Student for Change Council began when teachers and students identified troubling issues in their school and community around a glaring lack of inclusion and respect for diversity. The Diversity Council is run by students for students, and raises funds and awareness for a variety of justice causes. As active and responsible citizens, the students have been role models for their school’s remaining student body and the rest of their community.

“It really opened my eyes to everything around me and in my community, says Sophia, a participant in Diversity and Student for Change Council. “ I realized that I can anything if I put my mind to it.”

The students have been involved in many events ranging from supporting anti-bullying days to organizing lunchtime speakers and a school-wide full-day conference where community facilitators are invited to teach students about issues around diversity and peace, to fundraising for the victims of natural disasters in Haiti or Japan and sponsoring a Plan Canada child in Honduras.

“No matter who you are or where you live, you always need to remember to stand up for what you believe in, stand up for your rights and stand up just for yourself” says Shelby, a participant in Diversity and Student for Change Council.

Although the students come from diverse backgrounds, they share common goals, and that is to build their communities, increase respect for diversity and raise awareness for a variety of justice causes.  This group teaches children and youth that you are never too young to make a difference.

International Group – The Institute of Rural Education and Development

During a three year work assignment in Chitral, Pakistan, Aly Nanji saw it was absolutely apparent that a change was put in place to better the lives of children and adults. IREAD’s best solution to the problems of poverty, ignorance and hopelessness was to start with the younger children and give them the best possible education.

“Visiting the villages we found that people were leading a very poor lifestyle, said Aly Nanji. “They were badly situated in the sense that there were no schools and there was no hope for the children.”

The Institute of Rural Education and Development was formed in 2009 by Aly Nanji and Dr. Noorali Jaffer to advance education in the developing world by establishing and operating Early Childhood Education Centres in the remote regions of the Chitral District in Pakistan.

“The impact to me is that I had tears in my eyes because these people are so thankful for what you’re doing,” said Dr Nooralli Jaffer.  “That basically sealed the deal that I was coming back and I was going to help build schools.”

IREAD has worked on numerous projects and all with the same goals in mind – long term sustainability, advancement in education and a safe and healthy place for children to grow and learn. Aside from building Early Childhood Centres and training teachers, IREAD has also sponsored 64 students to begin schooling at the High School level.

IREAD wants to give young boys and girls hope and support to finish their High School education and pursue careers and a better life.

With future goals of expanding across the world, IREAD wishes to bring hope, stability and peace in the much needed areas of the third world.

International Individual – Sean Krausert

Sean Krausert has been active in many conflict resolution and social justice initiatives for the last 15 years.  In 2011, Sean Krausert decided to take his advocacy for peace and social justice to a whole new level.  That Poverty Project was launched and created with the goal of engaging as many people as possible in the task of ending poverty in Canada and around the world.

“There will always be situations where people experience trauma, disaster, hard luck, poor choices and fall into an in poverty-like situation,” says Sean.  “However, there is no reason that anyone should have to stay there.”

That Poverty Project involves three self-sacrificing phases in which Sean will experience what it is like to be homeless, struggle with low income and be subjected to hunger.

Through social media and blogging about That Poverty Project, Sean has been able to communicate with thousands of people in developing a better understanding and awareness about poverty.

Sean believes that through engagement of many people, we can end poverty in Canada and around the world, and will therefore produce a healthier and more peaceful world for all.

“To me, peace is everyone, everywhere having their basic human rights satisfied. Enough food, and water, and shelter, access to health, access to education and proper sanitation,” says Sean. “Peace is also about compassion. With compassion we meet those needs, we can collaborate well and with compassion, we can bring about peace.”

International Youth – Jocelyn Davis

Jocelyn Davis is a passionate youth who takes her civic responsibilities very seriously. Her efforts along with her consistent message that youth can be empowered to make enormous contributions to social issues have been successful domestically and on an international scale.

“The conditions that people in some of the poorest countries live in often go unnoticed,” says Jocelyn.

Jocelyn co-started The 8th Rung as a youth-driven organization. The 8th Rung’s primary focus is youth empowerment to create sustainable change in international development. Jocelyn’s team raised money to fund water systems in Asia by partnering with the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology. This resulted in nearly 45,000 people having permanent access to clean drinking water in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

Initially partnering with Light Up the World to install solar lighting to reduce gorilla poaching in Africa, The 8th Rung is collaborating with the Captain Nicola Goddard Foundation to install solar lighting on remote hilltops for first aid and birthing stations in the mountain forests of Papua New Guinea. This project alone is estimated to be assisting more than 130,000 people.

In addition, Jocelyn is a strong advocate for the unique approach she has developed that models partnerships with corporations and adult philanthropists to create stretch targets for youth.

“Peace means a lot more than the lack of conflict, says Jocelyn. “Knowing that you’re not going to have contaminated water, knowing that a snake isn’t going to bite you, knowing that you’re making a difference in the world, all of that brings peace of mind and being at peace with yourself.”

YMCA Staff – Jill Jamieson

Jill Jamieson is the general manager at Camp Chief Hector YMCA where she mentors a dedicated and caring team.  She strengthens relationships with wild life associations and conservation officers in her dedication to reducing our environmental footprint.

“What I teach all young staff when they come to camp is a sense of individual growth, whether it’s body, mind or spirit and a sense of growth in community.”

Jill leads the YMCA Calgary Association Green Team where she takes steps to help YMCA Calgary further sustainability practices. Jill spearheaded various green initiatives at Camp Chief Hector YMCA including a community gardening project, reducing water usage, facilitating Federal Eco-Intern project, and implementing recycling and composting.

“Peace means a lot of things and one of the things that it brings to mind is opportunity, says Jill. “There are no barriers to opportunity for what a person wants to do or create in their life.”

Jill embodies peace into her daily life. She is able to create a peaceful and welcoming environment at Camp Chief Hector YMCA.

View the inspiring videos of all the YMCA Peace Medals recipients.

Congratulations to all nominees and recipients and thank you for spreading peace in our world and making it better place for all.


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