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What's the 'deal' about youth gambling?

From gambling advertisements to poker tournaments on sporting channels, card games at lunch and raffles at schools, gambling is present everywhere in the lives of youth today. Studies have shown that adolescents report significantly higher rates of problem gambling than adults. Many youth are well-versed in gambling activities as they are the first generation to live in a society where gambling is legalized, actively promoted, and even glamorized. With the rising popularity of online gambling and gaming, youth are presented with even more possibilities to engage in gambling activities.

As mandated by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the YMCA Youth Gambling Awareness Program (YGAP) educates youth and adults involved in young people’s lives about gambling facts and related risks while encouraging healthy choices and informed/responsible decision making. YGAP enhances youth’s coping skills and works to prevent youth problem gambling through outreach, education, promoting community awareness and involvement in youth engagement activities. In 1999, the YMCA of Greater Toronto was asked to respond to a Request for Proposal by the Ministry of Health and Long term Care for the development of a provincial gambling awareness program as a pilot. Today YGAP, a bilingual program, is offered in 19 communities collaborating with 15 YMCA associations across Ontario. 

YGAP is similar to other YMCA programs and services are developed through the framework of:
  • Impact the social determinants of health such as preventing injury, reducing stress, increasing educational and/or skill attainment, building social support networks. 
  • Employ the philosophy of harm reduction:  helps with achieving balance and long-term commitment. 
  • Use an asset-based approach: emphasizes the strengths and positive features of an individual as their starting point for development, rather than gaps or deficits.

Are you ready?

“Where did the summer go?” is a comment often echoed as August comes to a close and the beginning of school is just around the corner.  Different feelings abound.  Sadness that summer is over.  Excitement that the first day of school is close.  Happiness to reunite with old friends.  It’s a time when families begin transitioning from a relaxed summer into the routine of school  and work.  For some, it’s your child’s first experience with school.  For others, it involves the search for before and after school programs to keep kids safe and engaged.  

Is this your child’s first time going to school?  Are you worried that it is a very long day for your child?  Not to worry!  With our YMCA Playing to Learn curriculum your child will have fun and won’t want to leave program. Children experience a sense of belonging building relationships with friends and educators. Their experiences are  shaped by the particular features of their school community. Children  have a number of daily opportunities to connect, participate, discover, learn and have fun. There are also opportunities to increase their level of physical activity through sport and play. 

Our before and after school programs are designed to foster creativity and encourage the development of both intellectual and physical well being for ages 4-12 years. Building self-esteem and experiencing success is important to children in this age group.  Find out more about this amazing Y program.



Change Stems From a Communities’ Roots

Real change begins at the roots, and no one’s knows this better than the Windsor/Essex Community Garden Collective.  The Collective is a grass-roots organization dedicated to bringing communities together under a shared common goal, preserving the beauty in our city’s gardens. How are they doing this you  ask?  Taking currently vacant lots which have been cast aside, daily volunteers from local Chinese, Sundanese, and Karen communities come together to weed and water a plethora of fruits and vegetables that you normally can’t find in the grocery store. This inspiring group initiative not only nurtures the body, but the soul as well!
Inspired by this initiative?  Want to set up a community garden of your own? Well you can! New and interested gardeners are welcome to reach out to the Windsor Community Garden Collective to receive guidance and advice on how to jump start the change in your  community. Here the Collective will teach gardeners how to care for and build  a community garden. Community gardens are growing more than just food; they are creating caring and socially responsible neighborhoods.
With summer time upon us, it is not too late to plant your gardens. With hot days and cool nights what you choose to plant can determine the success of your garden. For all you avid gardeners here are a few tips to consider:
1.       Start as early as possible and make sure you are using the best fertilizer;
2.       Make sure your garden isn’t thirsty! When planting your fruit or vegetable garden this summer, be sure to regularly water your garden especially on those humid days to ensure your garden bears tasty fruits that you can enjoy;
3.       For the best colour, steer towards planting pansies and pussy willow branches, as they flourish in the cool weather and can be planted even on hot summer days. Bonus, pussy willows make fantastic centerpieces for the dining table!
Making a change has never been easier. Whether it is becoming an active member of your community and joining a community garden or taking  steps to grow your garden at home, start today and see the seeds of change grow! For more information visit http://www.wegarden.ca/#gardens 



Unforgettable experiences at camp

With counselors like these, it is no wonder Y campers have such an amazing time!When you hear the word "camp", what thoughts come to mind? For kids, camp signifies the end of another school year and the beginning of carefree summer days swimming, playing  sports, and most importantly spending time with friends. At camp kids say goodbye to  homework and the inside of a classroom, but they are still learning!
As kids leave home to enjoy a summer of fun at day camp or overnight camp, they embark on important stepping stones. They make new friends and learn to work as part of a team which is known as social-emotional learning. This style of learning has proven that attending summer camp improves a child’s independence, strengthens their ability to create friendships, and develops strong decision making capabilities. 
YMCA camps utilize social-emotional learning; staff and campers constantly show their spirit through songs and skits and staffers help guide the kids through social relationships. Taught how to be strong decision makers and handle conflict, kids are better able to tackle any problem that comes their way at camp i.e., a disagreement with a bunkmate. 
Making new friends can be scary, but Y camps give children the chance to do so. Staff lead icebreaker games which help kids get to know one another and gives them the chance to meet other kids with the same interests. Being surrounded by positive role models is important to challenge development, and at the Y adult staff demonstrate cooperation and friendship with their campers so that they learn how to get along with others and work as part of a team.
However, the key benefit of camp for kids today is that it allows them to be silly in a safe environment. Campers are encouraged to joke around with one another and sing songs. Funny jokes allow the kids to relax and be themselves, while creating a positive and inclusive environment for everyone!
As camp counsellors Madison and Rebecca are all about creating unforgettable experiences for their campers. Rebecca, an inclusion counselor, focuses on creating child driven relationships by supporting children to build friendships with kids whose behaviours complement one another. "If I see a quiet child, I find a child who is energetic or wants to be supportive to help them feel comfortable", says Rebecca. By playing games, Madison helps camper connection where children have fun and make new friends. With counselors like these, it is no wonder Y campers have such an amazing time!  Proof that camp is not just a place for fun, but also a place to learn.
So if your child enjoys being outdoors, and wants to learn new skills and make friends check out the Y’s website and register for Y camp today!

Gearing Up for the Summer

June marks the beginning of Bike Month.  For the remainder of this month and the lazy hazy days of summer, you will see kids on bikes….biking to school, biking to see their friends, or biking to the nearest park with their family.  It is important everyone stays safe.  
Cycling, whether you are a child or an adult, is not only a fantastic method of exercise but cost-effective as well. As more bikes enter the road, cyclists are at a greater risk of injury so the Ontario Medical Association has taken the initiative to provide Ontarians with information on how to stay safe, while living an active lifestyle.
Below are a few simple rules to follow.
  1. Wear a helmet that covers the full top of your head. 
  2. Follow all traffic laws. 
  3. Know your traffic hand signals
  4. Do not text and bike! Keep focused on the road   
  5. Pay attention to your surroundings
For more information check out @ParachuteCanada
Follow these five easy steps.  Have fun and be safe! 
Happy summer from the YMCA of Western Ontario


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