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Participation, Empathy, Advocacy, Community, Empowerment

Peace Week at the YMCA is a time when we recognize and celebrate the amazing contributions that have been made for peace in our communities. Here at the Y, we believe that peace is more than the absence of violence. To us, peace is participating, showing empathy for others, advocating for inclusion and diversity, engaging in the community and empowering others through kindness, fairness and respect for all people. With this year being the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, we are also showing our respect and honour for the efforts of the brave soldiers that helped fight for peace and end the war. We build stronger communities, a stronger Canada and a stronger world when we act for PEACE.

This Peace Week, November 17-24, we invite all community members to Act for Peace. All acts of peace, big and small, have the power to create positive ripple effects throughout the entire community! One act can influence and inspire whole groups of people to pursue peaceful acts themselves. 


 Each day of Peace Week, the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario will be challenging the community to complete a different Act of Peace. Whether it be taking a few minutes of peace in a local park, or donating to a peaceful charity, we encourage everyone to get involved and participate for peace. Join us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #YMCAPeaceWeek and #actforPeace to join in the daily challenges.

At each branch and child care centre, we will have a Peace Week banner, encouraging everyone to finish the sentence “To me, Peace is...”. Come out to any of our YMCA branches and child care facilities to write your meaning of peace on our Peace Week banners!

During Peace Week, the Y also hosts Peace Breakfasts, in which selected nominees are awarded a YMCA Peace Medal. This medal is given to individuals, youth and groups/organizations that, without special resources, status, wealth or position, demonstrate peace in their local, national or global communities. The Peace Breakfasts and Peace Medal Ceremonies are opportunities to celebrate others’ amazing contributions to peace.

This Peace Week, think about your actions, participate in the peace challenges, share what peace means to you.. and most importantly, keep your thoughts and actions of peace going all year!



Camp: Experiences and Memories that Last a Lifetime

Encouraging a shy girl to break out of her shell. Helping a little boy who has been bullied overcome anxiety and fear. Transforming kids over a summer or even a week. These are some of the stories we hear time and again from parents of Y campers. We love every single one.

At the Y, we accept every child with open arms, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to experience that summer camp life. Our leaders and counsellors love connecting with the campers and helping them have the week (or summer) of their life. Parents and caregivers also take great comfort in knowing their children are in safe and competent hands.

Whether it`s day camp or overnight camp, there`s a certain transformation to be found in children who attend camp. New friendships to be made, new skills to be learned, and many laughs to be had. And the growth, independence and skill-building that inevitably comes along with overnight camp is unlike no other.

Some of our greatest Y stories come to us from camp and we`d love to share them with you.


Mike's Y Story

My son Cohen is attending the YMCA-Fanshawe College Soccer camp this week. He can be very shy and anxious to try new camps and this week was no different, but thanks to the staff it`s been a week he won`t forget. Last night he scored his first goal of the year in soccer with his newfound skills and he just told me "I do not want to leave this camp, it`s been too much fun!" He also has made some great new friends. Thanks again to all of your staff. You truly do make a difference.

Lilly's Y Story

Dear CQE,

I just wanted to thank the staff there so much for the amazing experience of camp. My four years going here have been the best of my life and this place has become a second home to me because of the people there. The staff you have are the most kind, giving and genuine people I have ever met and really go out of their way to make sure that your time at camp is a good one. I am so grateful for that. Camp has helped me grow so much as a person and I don't think it would've been the same if the people there weren't as welcoming and open. I was able to be myself and be confident in who I am because of Camp Queen Elizabeth. So thank you so much for doing that for me and every other child who attends this camp summer after summer. Know that as a staff, you are making a difference in so many lives and that is so amazing.

Much love, Lilly L.

Rachel's Camp Story

When my daughter and I arrived in London from Alberta, we found it really hard to settle in and connect to the new community because it was so different from where we moved from. My daughter has special needs (anxiety, etc.) and often struggles in social settings. Last summer I started working at the YMCA and signed her up for a camp at Spencer Lodge. At first, she was so scared but after a while she made good friends, connected with the amazing counsellors and started singing camp songs even while home! The transformation I saw in her was HUGE and I felt so grateful. Then, later in the year when she was in swim classes and other Y programs, she would get so excited when she saw camp friends and I could see she really felt a sense of belonging and connectedness. As a mother, this made me so happy! My working at the Y is great for her too because she has such happy memories of camps and programs that she is really excited about the work I do at the Y.


Y ExperienceU - The Best Program for Teens!

Confidence boosting, leadership building, skill developing and engaging with the community; this is what Y Experience U is all about! YExperienceU is a youth program for ages 13-15, run by senior youth. Youth in this program experience amazing new adventures focusing on three areas: culinary, social media and video, and urban outdoor exploration. Each of these unique subjects are taught by highly-skilled and engaging instructors that make this experience so much fun!  




Each week, teens meet at the Wortley YMCA and will have fun learning how to make their own healthy snacks and meals, create and edit their own videos and gain confidence with unique outdoor adventures. Youth will engage with the community through field trips and will have a super exciting trip to the Y’s Camp Queen Elizabeth.


This is the perfect program for youth to meet new friends, build valuable skills and develop for the future. Come experience the adventure and creativity with Y ExperienceU!

Register today!



Everyone is Welcome at the Y: Helping Newcomers Thrive

At the Y, we are focused on healthy people, families and communities by offering opportunities for all to participate. Regardless of background, beliefs or ability, the Y is committed to helping everyone thrive and grow in mind, body and spirit.  

Newcomers to Canada face incredible challenges, such as learning the language, finding ways to engage with the community and meeting friends. Here at the Y, we offer programs to better support newcomers and help ease the transition to Canadian life. Such programs include YMAP; a youth integration and leadership program, and LSP; the Language Skills Program that helps newcomer adults learn reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in English. 

Here we have two amazing stories about how the Y has changed the lives of individuals and their families who immigrated to Canada.   



Miraj’s Y Story

Navigating my new country.

“Moving from Afghanistan to Canada gave my family a new life. My home country had turned into a place that people feared because of the violence and bombings; it was a scary place. Since I was 8 I had worked in a clothing shop and a restaurant to support my family. When I came to Canada I attended school for the first time and my mother, brother and sisters found what we came for – a new culture, new people, and new opportunities. I had never been to a Y before and now it is part of my life! The Y has helped me with my English (I can read and write in 7 other languages; my mother taught me all of them), given me opportunities to go skating, camping, swimming, bowling and I have met a lot of good people.

The YMAP program has truly helped me navigate my new country and I am grateful for that.*

*YMAP is a program offered at the YMCA that helps to “Map the Way for Newcomer Youth”

Aziza’s Y Story

The Y is like a family for me. I know them. They know me.

“My daughter and I have a second family at the Y and I’m the kind of person if I like it, I stick with it.  I was born in Afghanistan but because there is always war the Red Cross moved us to Russia and now to Canada. My daughter and I were shocked when we first moved here but after some time we started to love this place for the safety and the people. The Y has been there for both Eloha and I from the start. I’ve taken English language classes and my instructors were the best in the world! My daughter comes to the Y (she is in grade 5) and she loves the cooking classes, the gym, and the art programs. When I come to the Y I forget my troubles, I see my friends and we talk about what is on our minds. I love it here!”


We love hearing new Y stories! If you have a story to share, please submit it online.


Anything is Possible with the Y!

Committing to a healthy lifestyle is not just about fitness, it’s about encompassing a healthy mind, body and spirit. At the Y, we are excited about providing avenues for family members of all ages to grow in these areas. With highly skilled, enthusiastic and supportive Wellness coaches and program leaders, the Y makes reaching goals and working hard so much fun!  

It’s truly never too late to start a healthy journey of your own. All Y programs and facilities are inclusive and people of all backgrounds, beliefs and abilities are welcomed and supported in everything that we do!  

We love hearing stories about how the Y has transformed someone’s life through their health journey. Whether it’s a story about feeling great while losing weight and gaining muscle, or a story about meeting new friends and connecting with a community that also encompasses a healthy mind, body and spirit. The Y is about helping others understand themselves, grow in all aspects of life and gain a connection to their community – we're so happy that we can help others achieve their goals. Today, we’re sharing some of these incredible stories. 

We always love listening to new stories, if you have a Y story that you’d like to share please send it to communications@ymcawo.ca or submit it online.

Catharine’s Story

“I was transformed. I feel alive again."

 “For the better part of 20 years, I trained and dedicated my life in the hopes in making the Canadian National Women’s Ice Hockey team. In the end, I did not make the team; however, through the years I learned much about life and living and am grateful for that. In spite of this, and other experiences, nothing could have prepared me for the traumas and devastating events of the past 6 years. These tragedies and events downed me. For years my emotional, psychological and physical injuries prevented me from living even a skeleton of my previous life. My spirit was broken and my sense of self was shattered.

One day I built up enough courage and strength to go to the YMCA and walk through the doors. I wasn’t sure what to expect nor what I was looking for. I was hoping that I would at least be able to swim once again, so I got a membership and began to swim. After that first step and first class at the Y, I slowly began to go to more classes- aquasize, yoga and light aerobics.

The encouraging and positive energy of the staff and members was life-giving for me. In conjunction with a Brain Injury program, the Y has allowed me to begin to see myself as a member of society again. After my first week at the Y, I texted my sister: I feel alive again.

I am so grateful that there is this community to be a part of and to be able to heal and grow here.”


Kimberly’s Story

“The Y is safe, comfortable and makes US feel important”

 “The Y has been a lifesaver! I moved back to my hometown after being away for 15 years and as a single mom of 2 beautiful boys we were looking for a community to fit in with. With our limited resources we moved into a small apartment and I started to make choices about how to live as the ‘3 of us’. This is when I decided to join the YMCA. The impact of that one decision has forever changed our lives. We live in a very small apartment and one Christmas the boys asked if they could have a bedroom from Santa. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible, so we changed our thinking and made the Y our second home. My kid’s friends will meet us at the Y and they join programs together- the Y turns into this big living room with laughter, friends and lots of fun! I will join in a yoga class while my kids are playing, and this is so important because it promotes fitness and self-care for my kids. The Y couldn’t be any better for a single mom and I’ve tapped into various branches for different programs and made it work for our family. The memberships work so well for us and financially the Y is affordable as we wouldn’t be able to swim, workout, do karate, and much more for even a fraction of the price. As a family we have already had so many Y moments. The magnitude of the gestures that Y staff exhibit are so huge- they impact so many people. I have to be solid for my kids and that’s my WHY the Y!”

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