At the base of any cause is a commitment; whether it is a commitment to self, to an individual, or a group of individuals, or a purpose. This commitment drives an individual to seek out ways and means to fulfill the purpose of the cause, the end result being that one is in service to whomever or whatever is the foundation of the cause. The YMCA is no different in this regard. Our cause is our work to solve pressing social issues in our communities.
As the Y we realize that we must be focused and accountable in order to bring about meaningful change in individuals and communities. Therefore, in order to best serve our communities, the YMCA has three focus areas that help define our service:
. By focusing on three specific areas, Y organizations nationwide can truly strengthen individual communities.
For Youth Development, Ys everywhere offer a range of programs and activities aimed directly at younger populations. Some of the more well-known programs are those run afterschool and during the summer. Sometimes the story that is not told is that these programs are more than just ways for children to pass time when not in school. Rather they are opportunities for enrichment, for social, emotional, and cognitive development.
Literacy and reading retention are integral parts of both afterschool and summer programs offered by Ys. We believe that while a child is in our care, he or she should be engaged in a way that allows the child to reach maximum innate potential.. Additionally, afterschool and summer programs tie in to the Healthy Living component of the Y's cause; children in the care of the Y have a healthy and nutritious diet as well as receive moderate to vigorous physical activity thanks to the staff working with them.
Healthy Living is not just for the children participating in Y programs. The fitness components for Ys offer opportunities for adults to communally address and prevent chronic illness as well as regain or maintain a healthier lifestyle and related quality of life. Through signature programs such as the YUSA Diabetes Prevention Program, Livestrong, and Enhanced Fitness, adults are living healthier lives, reducing health costs, and connecting to their communities.
Ys also provide meals to at risk populations, teach nutrition, make connections to community based services in substance abuse prevention and treatment as well as offering opportunities for gardening and other outdoor activities.
Ys are intimately involved in their communities and often take the lead in protecting children from sexual abuse, providing housing, sheltering homeless individuals and families, providing food pantries, conducting reunification programs, leading communities in diversity and inclusion processes, reducing violence among teens, creating first time work experiences, and working collectively with local, regional, and national organizations and governments to reduce the burden on taxpayers to serve communities.
Though the programs offered by Ys vary greatly by location and community, they are all rooted in solving pressing social community based issues. Ys are a cause, dedicated to the principle that we are called to serve others, to create a safe and welcoming center for our communities that they may thrive and lives be lived to their fullest.