Diversity is our Strength

Statement on the attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec

By now we have all learned of last week's senseless terror attack at the Centre Culterel Islamique de Québec where six people were killed and nineteen wounded. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families and community as they grieve this senseless loss. We echo the words of the YMCAs of Québec who denounce this violence as having "no place in our communities, our cities or our country."

All people deserve the right to live in peace. Peace is more than the absence of violence and conflict. Peace is the ongoing work of building and rebuilding conditions of fairness, inclusion, empathy, security and respect for diversity.

The Canada we want ensures safe and vibrant communities where everyone belongs. Our Canada demonstrates leadership in improving the health of all people in spirit, mind, and body; a Canada that respects diversity and pluralism, that combats inequality, that protects the most vulnerable, that promotes global citizenship, and that nurtures the potential of young people.

The attack in Quebec City is a painful reminder of how hate can live in even the most progressive of countries. It is a reminder that we must be active in building healthy communities; that we must be steadfast in our conviction that people of all backgrounds must be able to thrive in a single society.

For more than 130 years, the YMCA of Greater Vancouver has been a leader in building healthy communities. We are socially inclusive and open to all, regardless of individual circumstance. We provide safe spaces where everyone can come together to connect and belong, make healthy choices and reach their potential.

With today’s changing landscape, now, more than ever, let us not lose sight of the important role that YMCAs play in our communities.

We ALL must listen, ask questions, seek to understand and, together, build the trust needed to stand in the way of those who attempt to divide us.

Volunteers making an impact

"Everyone wins when you help to grow a community,” says Jermaine Kemp, a volunteer coach with the YMCA/Steve Nash Youth Basketball League who was recently recognized with a special YMCA coach jacket.

The YMCA/Steve Nash Youth Basketball League has an impressive 185 volunteers—from coaches to parent volunteers. This large group of dedicated folks commit their time to make this program happen—without their support the program could not operate.

On January 13th, five coaches were recognized for their impact on the lives of the players they coach and for the core values they display every day: Jermaine Kemp (6/7 and 8/9 girls), Brad Price (8/9 boys), Ryan Greville (4/5 co-ed), Adrian Dostie (4/5 co-ed, 6/7 co-ed and 6/7 girls) and Jim Sidhu (4/5 co-ed, 6/7 co-ed and Jr NBA). More than 35 coaches were nominated by the children they coach.

Here’s a glimpse into one coach’s nomination:

“Jermaine cares about us and is always encouraging us to do our best. He boosts our confidence by constantly telling us we are doing a great job, and showing us how to improve without being critical. Jermaine teaches us to be respectful to each other by never yelling or raising his voice at us. He says that respect is first, and then the game. He is hardworking, kind, funny and caring, and always greets us with a big smile. Jermaine motivates us to do our best at every practice. Jermaine is an awesome coach and a superstar! He is a fine example of someone who loves what he does and truly cares about making a difference in young people’s lives. Thank you Jermaine!”

What Jermaine says about coaching:

“Everyone wins when you help to grow a community. Children and adolescents bloom in their physical body, as well as in their maturity. Coaching basketball gives me another feeling of purpose and watching the players in their development is just another huge plus. Once you see them advance in one tiny way; a successful pass, a purposeful shot, or a nicely timed lay up, it is amazing to witness.”

Interested in volunteering? Spring leagues begin in April. To learn more, contact sportsleagues@gv.ymca.ca or 604-631-5525.

Play time this winter

Dear Vancouver weather,

Thank you for all the snow this winter after giving us an entire year off. It’s been wonderful to see our local mountains covered with snow again.

But we’re good now. Seriously. You can stop. We’re ready to put our snow and rain gear away for a bit. Feel free to get warmer and start thinking about blooming our wonderful city again.


All Vancouverites

Hopefully Mother Nature gets our message! But in the meantime, it looks like winter is going to be here for a bit longer. So you might need a few ideas to stay active in the winter weather.

Have you seen the ParticpACTION Play List? It’s 150 physical activities that make us uniquely Canadian. The Play List is also a challenge to see how many different activities Canadians can complete in 2017.

Here are a few winter physical activities from the list to keep you moving:

Snowshoeing – There are plenty of options near Vancouver to get you into the wilderness. If you haven’t tried snowshoeing before, make sure you stay safe and go with someone who has experience.

Snow Shovelling – Don’t think of it as a chore - it’s good exercise! Want to do a good deed while getting in your cardio? Shovel someone else’s sidewalk who might not be physically able to.

Dancing – Dance like no one is watching. However, if you want to see how much fun a group dance class can be, check out Zumba®! You’ll see people of all ages smiling while getting a great workout.

Basketball – Did you know this game was invented at the YMCA? There are times at every membership centre to get in the game, and even leagues for children.

Aquafit – If you haven’t tried an Aquafit class before, you might be missing out. It’s a great workout that’s easy on your joints. There are different options at the Y for every level.

Gardening – See message to Mother Nature above.

Try something different today! Many of activities on the ParticipACTION 150 list are available at the Y and included with your membership.

New Year’s resolution? How about all year resolution!

How do you reach your fitness goals in 2017? The first step is putting you first. But maybe you need a bit of support. Invest in your well-being with one of our amazing YMCA Personal Trainers! Personal training is not just about hitting a specific number on the scale or lifting heavier weights. Our trainers focus on you and your goals, whatever they are. Whether you are looking to increase your strength, improve your cardio, tone up particular areas, or just looking for someone to hold you accountable, our trainers are dedicated to helping you become the best version of you.  

“You have to schedule exercise like it’s an important meeting,” says Tony Lam, a personal trainer at Robert Lee YMCA. “You wouldn’t miss a scheduled meeting with your accountant, so when it comes to fitness, your trainer is like your accountant.”

Tony has been a trainer at the Robert Lee YMCA for over two years. He has a large roster of regular clients with whom he has built solid relationships, with based on making fitness fun and helping them reach their fitness goals. One of Tony’s clients, Peter Weir, has been training regularly with him since the beginning shared a few words with us about how his experience personal training has impacted him:

`“Tony has been my trainer for two years now. He has the right combination of knowledge and skill to motivate, combined with a dynamic personality. As a result, I genuinely look forward to my sessions with him. I've been more than pleased with the results and I plan to continue working with Tony for the foreseeable future.”

February is personal training month at the YMCA and we have special prices on all of our training packages. Start off with a 4-pack to test the waters, or if you are ready to jump right in and commit, bring on the 24-pack! Meet our trainers on our website and determine who you think will be the best fit. Special prices are also listed, so take a look and invest in you this year! 

Kids basketball leagues launch in Vancouver

This spring, two new basketball programs for children ages 5 to 15 will be expanding to the Langara Family YMCA and surrounding schools.

The YMCA/Steve Nash Youth Basketball League offers kids in grades 2-9 the chance to enjoy playing basketball in a recreational setting as no scores or standings are kept. Run in partnership with Steve Nash Youth Basketball and Basketball BC, this volunteer-driven league teaches kids the game of basketball with an emphasis on fun and teamwork. The league will run out of schools in the Langara area.

The Jr. NBA Rookie Division is an entry-level program that introduces basketball to kids in K-Grade 1 in a fun, active and healthy learning environment. In partnership with NBA Canada, the 10 week program consists of fun drills and modified games created by NBA approved basketball experts. Weekly practices are 45 minutes in duration and run by volunteer instructors who have been trained through NBA Canada. Equipment and activities are modified to be age-appropriate…and fun!  The program will take place at the Langara Family YMCA.

Registration is now open for both programs. 

Transformation starts here: Jamie’s story

“Dad, slow down!”

Those words are music to Jamie’s ears, since only a few years ago he was battling significant health challenges and wasn’t able to keep up with his daughters.

Jamie was more than 120 pounds overweight, had developed Type 2 diabetes and was battling anxiety and depression. He was scared. Everything changed after a sobering visit with his doctor, when he was told that if he didn’t make changes he wouldn’t be alive to see his children grow up. He knew he needed to do something – if not for himself, then for his daughters.

Jamie wanted to go to a place where he and his family could become involved, where they could make lifestyle changes together. When he walked through the doors of the YMCA, he felt like he was part of a community. He felt at home and met people who believed in his healthy future.

The Y staff helped Jamie make big changes and tackle his goals one small step at a time. That made all the difference - over the next two years, Jamie lost 145 pounds. His physical and mental health improved dramatically. And amazingly, he has become a YMCA wellness instructor, personal trainer, and a group fitness instructor!

Jamie’s health has never been better, and with his YMCA community by his side, he will help many more people become active and healthy.