Home About Y Stories Work Here Volunteer Here Contact

What We're Talking About


Celebrating International Youth Day

Our YMCA celebrates and values the unique voices of youth in our communities. That’s why creating opportunities for youth to be meaningfully engaged in all aspects of our YMCA is important to us.

Group of YMAP youth at Fanshawe Conservation AreaThis summer, 16 YMAP (read more about YMAP below) youth participated in a Leaders in Training program at YMCA day camp. The youth were taught fundamentals of becoming a great leader. They were given the opportunity to shadow counsellors and assist with the campers, giving them a chance to be a mentor for children between the ages of 4-12.

The YMAP participants said that through this opportunity they learned patience when dealing with younger campers, to treat people the way you want to be treated, to be respectful to others, and improved upon their leadership skills. The youth were also able to put these hours towards volunteer hours, focus on life and social skills, increase their networks, and improve their employability skills.

When asked what the YMCA meant to the YMAP youth, they said “Family”, “Community”, “Welcoming”, “Amazing”, “Home” and “AWESOME!”

A special thank you to the Ted Rogers Community Grant for helping to fund this opportunity.


YMAP is a YMCA Integration & Leadership Program; Mapping the Way for Newcomer Youth. YMAP's main goal is to provide support and enrichment opportunities for newcomer youth to ease the adjustment to Canadian life. YMAP focus on self-governance and opportunities for newcomer youth to establish social and professional networks.

YMAP program is funded by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada as a settlement program for newcomer youth.

Learn more at ymcawo.ca/ymap


5 Ways for Those 55+ To Stay Active

Staying active is a key part of health for people of every age, including those in the 55+ bracket. Along with helping lower risks of strike, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, there are many other benefits. Better strength and balance, happier mood, and the feelings of accomplishment are a few of them.

Getting out and being active in a gym, or joining in some exercise classes, can also help combat some of the boredom and isolation that may come along with retirement. Thankfully, there are lots of ways for seniors to achieve and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. We’ve got 5 great ideas to help you get your body and mind moving.

Switch Things Up

Variety can be great for ensuring you’re staying active while also enjoying yourself. Whether you already have a few different activities you enjoy or you’re trying something for the first time, think about switching up your exercise routine. One day might be a track walking day, the next a yoga or aquafit class, maybe lane swimming the next day, and a dance class another. Activities like raking the leaves or going for a brisk walk also count as exercise! This ensures you’re working different muscles and enhancing your strength and balance.


Grab a Partner

Studies show that having a workout buddy can majorly increase motivation to work out. Not only does an exercise partner help encourage you to increase your exercise frequency, the emotional and social support goes a long way in motivating. Grab a friend or spouse or meet a new friend at the gym.


Try Personal Training

Personal training can be an amazing resource for helping newbie exercisers get into shape while learning what routines and exercises work best for each person. If this isn’t in the budget, check out YThrive, an incredible customized workout program that is completely free for our Y members! Meet with a wellness coach to decide on one of our four streams (Begin, Balance, Boost or Flex) and you’ll get customized exercises that change every 30 days, along with the support and inspiration from your Y team. All free to our valued members, always.


Check Out Local Services

Many community centres and senior centres offer different programming for those 55+ and can be an amazing resource for all sorts of services. Classes, health clinics, outdoor hikes, dances, and social opportunities are often offered. And don’t forget about your local Y! We have many classes geared toward those 55+ such as gentle joints and aquafit. Thursdays at the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario are also free from open to 2pm, so it’s a great time to try out the facilities before committing to a membership. Check out all the options and schedules online.



Become more involved in the community and get yourself out and active by volunteering for a local cause or event. Find a cause or two that are important or meaningful to you – the sky’s the limit! From volunteering with children at a school or library to teaching a class, to seeing what one of your local non-profit offers, there are normally a lot of volunteer opportunities in most communities. If you’re interested in finding out more about one of the many volunteer roles at the Y, check us out.

There are so many ways to stay active as a mature adult. At the Y, we’re dedicated to helping keep you in your best form, mentally, physically and spiritually.



Moms, Don't Forget About You

This Mother’s Day, we’re celebrating all the moms among us. We’re also reflecting on a few of the inspiring and heartfelt stories we’ve heard from Y moms. Whether it’s being able to offer affordable, quality child care through our YMCA Strong Kids program, easing a burden, or helping a mom focus on her own personal health, we’re with our moms every step of the journey.

The stories we're sharing today show us that when we choose to focus on our personal health, it can have a rippling effect on every other area of our lives, including our family members. We are so proud to be a part of these amazing journeys and transformations.

And, if you’re still not quite sure how to celebrate the moms in your life this year, we’ve got a few ideas.

Wendy’s Y Story

I am a happily married mother of three, caregiver to my aging parent, working full time average Canadian woman. And just like every other hard working mom, I put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. This is my Y story…

My family has been members of the Bob Hayward YMCA since March 2012. The reason we joined was simple – we wanted good quality swimming lessons for our three children, that was affordable. The YMCA filled that need for us and we got our kids started in the swimming programs.

When I turned 40 I kind of had an ‘awakening’ and realized that I was overweight, unhappy and unhealthy and if I didn’t do something about it soon – that I would probably end up staying this way. So I made the decision to change my life. I started a great nutrition plan and started using my YMCA membership!

The first class I went to was Boot Camp and I managed to make it through the whole hour alive. I received some really positive motivation from another participant that changed everything for me. I started talking to other members and talking to the instructors and asking questions about my form and how to do the exercises better– I became a ‘regular’! The staff at the front desk recognized me and my kids – they would greet us as we came in and make us feel like we were important and special. Little by little, I was building a supportive community of friends. People that motivated and encouraged me. People that I care about. 

When I look back at how my life has changed, I am so thankful for my YMCA community. The instructors have provided so much support and encouragement. My work out buddies have become my friends, and I cannot imagine a better place to work out.

The Y is a great place for me and my family. My kids see how active I am now and they want to join me in my classes. I have more energy, I am happier and I’m healthier than I have ever been!


Erin's Y Story

I am a 34 year old married mother of two boys, 3 and 6. While on maternity leave with my second child, we purchased a YMCA family membership. My energy levels were low and I needed some motivation. I had two children to watch over and 50 lbs. to lose.  My eldest son has tons of energy and the Y’s mini combo was a perfect fit for him and the bonus was that it gave me the time I needed to exercise and have some one-on-one time with my newborn. The Y offers such incredible kids programs that my sons still beg to go to. 

Over the years we have used the Y for swimming lessons, karate, high ropes, supervised playground and numerous drop-in programs. The wonderful staff at two Y locations know my boys by name; that gives me the opportunity to focus on my health without feeling guilty when I drop them off. 

The frequency of our visits helped me to get to a healthy weight quickly, the energy to keep up with active little boys and run a half marathon when my son was only two. I never would have thought that possible!  I could never have accomplished that without the Y. 


Sarah's Y Story

"I can say that because of the YMCA,  I'm in the best physical and emotional health that I've ever been in."

Watch Sarah's story here


Fun Ways to Keep Kids Active and Healthy this Summer

Warmer, sunnier weather is finally here! This means it’s time to start planning Summer activities. For some families, it means outdoor sports season has begun. Or maybe it’s time to book that summer trip or favourite camping site. It can even simply mean fun days spent in the backyard or at the local park or pool. Whatever your plan is, we can probably all agree that physical activity and fresh air are super important, especially when it comes to children.

The Y is passionate about promoting healthy habits and lifestyles and some of the ways we do this are through our fun and unique children's programming, swimming lessons, and camps. 

To keep the momentum going we’ve compiled some great ways to make sure your kids are staying healthy and physically active this Summer, no matter their age or stage.

5 Easy and Fun Ways to Keep Kids Busy and Active

  1. Get outside as much as possible - Summer is the perfect time for warm days spent outside! Some easy and free activities for kids include running through the sprinkler, riding bikes, skipping rope, or playing with friends in the backyard. Many of us like to also enjoy get-togethers or backyard dinners with family, friends or neighbours. These are great opportunities to let the kids run around together and burn some energy while adults socialize. It’s a win-win! Also, if your child is signed up for a Y summer camp, they will definitely be getting a ton of fun outdoor time.

  2. Move your bodies: Look for activities you find enjoyable that also get your heart rate up a bit. For children interested in sports, soccer and baseball are both popular summer activities that will get kids active and moving. This warmer weather is also a wonderful time for outdoor family activities. Bike riding, swimming, hiking through a local forest, or a nice walk in a park are all great exercise ideas that can be made even more special when you do them together. If you’re looking for ideas, why not check out your local Y for children’s programs or family swim and gym times.

  3. Try something new: Use this season as an opportunity to try something new. Yoga, rock climbing, camping, karate, or bowling or laser tag on a rainy day. Have you checked out all the local parks or conservation areas? You’ll never know what new favourite spot you’ll discover.

  4. Make it fun: Think outside the box, especially to beat any summer boredom that may come up. Why not plan a fun scavenger hunt for kids? You can do this easily in the backyard, or, if you have a larger group, do it in a nearby park. A simple list of items found in nature, like this one, is all you need. Print out copies, pass out some little baskets or paper bags and you’re good to go! Other fun ideas for kids: make water balloons, go berry picking, dig for fossils, fly a kite, or set up an obstacle course – this can be done indoors on rainy days. Day trips are another exciting adventure you can do as a family. Head to a splash park (many local free parks also have water features) or plan a beach day – pack some healthy snacks and a lunch, grab some beach gear and toys like a beachball and frisbee, and head to your closest beach. Don’t forget the sunscreen! For rainy day fun, hit up the Y and spend the time playing together.

  5. Join some friends: Have your kids invite their friends over to play outside, plan a meetup in a park, set-up a neighbourhood game of soccer, or host a backyard barbeque and get-together. Watch the kids instantly create games and have fun.

However you decide to spend your summer days, make sure kids are staying active, getting lots of fresh air, and straying hydrated. Have a tip to add? Share it with us below.


Celebrating our Volunteers!

Every year in April, we celebrate National Volunteer Week here at the YMCA. While we’re always grateful for our volunteers, this is the time to really step it up and shine a light on the commitment, passion and time our volunteers put in. We are incredibly lucky to have volunteers in all areas of our Association, from Child Care to Health and Wellness, in our Newcomer Services and at Day and Residential Camps. We even get extra support with Administration and lots of helping hands at our events like SWEAT for Strong Kids and Jordan’s Run the Runway.

In 2018, more than 800 volunteers gave almost 40,000 hours of their time to the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, teaching yoga classes, reading books to children at camp or helping keep our facilities clean, safe and inviting. From all walks of like, we appreciate our talented and dedicated volunteers.

So, when you see a volunteer during the week April 7 – 13, 2019, or any other day really, please take a moment and thank them for what they do. We certainly could not do what we do without them!

Watch out for postings on social media and events at your home branch next week to celebrate our volunteers!

Please join us in saying THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!

Copyright 2012. YMCAWO.Privacy StatementAODA

YMCA of Southwestern Ontario Association Charitable Registration #10764 1649 RR0002