Our June Charity: YMCA

Our June Charity: YMCA

Every parent knows the importance of having a park that’s local to their home. Not only is the park one of the first places that children socialize with other children, but it’s also a place for kids to develop their gross motor skills, stay active, and burn energy to be healthy and happy. There’s no denying that physical activity improves health. Children naturally enjoy moving their bodies, and spending time at the park is incredibly beneficial for their physical health, as well as their mental health. Every year, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) recognizes the second Saturday in June as Family Health & Fitness Day to promote the importance of parks and recreation in keeping communities healthy and active. In honor of this special day, we chose the YMCA as our June charity and the recipient of our $5,000 donation for this month.

The YMCA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to put Christian values into practice by developing a healthy spirit, mind, and body. Founded in Industrial Revolution-era London during the mid-1800s, the YMCA began when George Williams sought to create a supportive community and promote healthy activities for young men in major cities. The movement came to the United States 7 years later, finding a home in Boston. Today, the YMCA engages over 10,000 communities across the United States and is the nation’s leading nonprofit.

Although the YMCA has many areas of impact, the non-profit places a special focus on youth development with many programs that address community needs from child care to after-school activities, camps, and academic enrichment. Depending on a family’s size and income, the YMCA offers free or reduced-cost childcare for children as young as 6 weeks old up to 8th grade with infant care rooms, toddler care rooms, preschool rooms, pre-kindergarten rooms, and K-8 with before and after school hours. Additionally, many Y’s offer free drop-in Child Watch while caregivers use the fitness facilities in order to provide the comprehensive support that parents and families need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

One of the YMCA’s main goals as an organization is to improve the nation’s health by providing programs and activities in communities that promote overall well-being. Physical inactivity is a major concern for many in the United States, and lack of exercise increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, as well as some cancers. Family fitness is a great way to get both children and adults more active, create a family bond, and have fun together. Not only does the Y offer every possible avenue to embark on a healthy lifestyle, including adult team sports, fitness centers, and all kinds of recreational activities, it also promotes family time.

The YMCA hosts family nights on weekend evenings, offering a variety of activities such as mixers to meet and connect with other families, pool games, arts and crafts, fitness, games, volunteering, and more to strengthen family bonds and bring communities together. The organization also has an Adventure Guides program that allows parents to bond with their children in outdoor environments while camping, hiking, or swimming. Through these family programs, the YMCA gives families the opportunity to take a break from their individual lives and spend time together in a fun, active way, whether it’s through sports, exercise classes, camping, or cooking.

As parents, there are plenty of things that are out of our control. The best we can do is set the right foundation for our children and hope that they grow up to lead healthy, positive lifestyles. Making physical activity a family priority is one of the keys to that strong foundation. Parents who go to the gym regularly and enroll their children in sports can still benefit from prioritizing exercising together as a family. Being active as a family is a great way to spend time together, improve parent-child relationships, support communication, and create good habits that have lifelong benefits. Not only does it improve the health of everyone in the family, it builds teamwork and boosts your children’s self-esteem. Thanks to the work that the YMCA does in thousands of communities across the nation, family fitness is an achievable and affordable goal at every income level.

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