The Y makes accessible the support and opportunities that empower people and communities to learn, grow and thrive. With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y nurtures the potential of every youth and teen, improves the nation’s health and well-being, and provides opportunities to give back and support neighbors.
At the Valley Y, we're for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Through our programs and services, we strive to instill the four core character development values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. Our Y branches offer a variety of programs and services, including child care, fitness programs, sports leagues, swimming, summer day and resident camps, and low-income housing with support services. Some of our accomplishments include: having met the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Early Childhood Program Accreditation. Preschool Child Care programs help youngsters gain self-confidence and social skills while developing positive attitudes about school and learning. Many are from single-parent families with low earning power who have a critical need for child care in order to work.After School Child Care programs teach positive values through role models, group activities and creative thought. Children enjoy supervised activities such as sports, arts and crafts, music, and drama rather than the company of the TV set or the local street corner. Summer Day Camp programs offer 4- to 14-year-old children a unique experience in day camping, while providing a desperately needed child care service for working parents in the summertime. Many single-parent families struggle to keep their jobs and be assured that their children are safe and involved in a culturally stimulating environment during the summer.SRO Housing initiatives allow the YMCA to provide 30 units of affordable housing to serve men in need of a place to live.
The YMCA reaches an exceptionally diverse group of individuals, providing thousands of deserving families, new immigrants, and at-risk young people with the resources and services they need to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives as citizens of our communities.
The YMCA is known for its quality community programs that provide our neighbors with access to affordable and accessible wellness options. In addition to promoting general health and wellness, YMCA programs teach critical life skills (swimming), promote teamwork and leadership skills (basketball), afford opportunities for intergenerational interaction (Y Family Fun Nights), and provide a safe, nurturing space for area residents.
Our philosophy that no one is turned away due to their inability to pay is something that each and every staff member takes very seriously. We believe that an individual's economic status should not limit their access to a variety of activities. This driving philosophy makes YMCA programs even more critical to the general health and well-being of our community.
Children who attend our camp develop skills and values that last a lifetime while making new friends and great memories. It is a place where kids get to be kids; get unplugged from their TV’s, computers and cell phones and make connections with old friends and new. And it’s more than just a week or two in a child’s life, because while they’re having fun, they’re growing – spiritually, emotionally and developmentally. Summer day camp offer children a unique experience, while providing a desperately needed child care service for working parents. Many single-parent families struggle to keep their jobs and be assured that their children are safe and involved in a culturally stimulating environment. Knowing that their children are safe, making friends and having fun, makes going to work that much easier for working families. Last year, more than 75 children ages 5 to 15 took advantage of the Valley YMCA’s exciting and fun-filled summer day camps; most attending all eight weeks.
Our goal is to challenge and nurture the individual, build self-esteem, instill leadership and social skills, strengthen the body, lift the spirit and sharpen the mind.
In our camp and youth sports programs every child is given opportunities to grow socially and emotionally with their peers in a safe and friendly environment. We follow up with campers and parents regarding their camp experience using YMCA of the USA camper survey tools. These tools evaluate the overall camp experience and measure the camp’s impact in the areas most associated with key developmental assets. We also track how many children are awarded financial assistance in all programs to assess community need.
Children and teens make up more than 50% of the people we serve and the Valley Y’s commitment to children is seen through our programs that give children a strong foundation so they can withstand daily pressures and grow into honest, responsible and caring citizens of the global community. We reach out to help families who need a safe, caring and nurturing environment by providing safe, structured programs so parents can go to work without worrying. In 2014, our Y provided child care to more than 80 children weekly at our child care center and more than 263 children, from kindergarten through 7th grade, attended one of the YMCA’s three before and/or after school childcare sites (Prendergast and Mead in Ansonia, Bradley School in Derby and Sunnyside in Shelton).
Children grow strong in spirit, mind and body in our youth sports programs and swimming lessons. We promote a non-competitive environment in which everybody plays and everybody wins. To us, good sportsmanship, self-confidence and teamwork are more important than winning or losing. More than 1,100 children took advantage of the Y’s instructional swimming lessons. Participation in a team sport not only offers exercise benefits, but helps kids develop healthy habits that continue throughout their lives. The psychological benefits of developing self-esteem, camaraderie and problem-solving skills in a team setting are just a few of the additional bonuses kids receive through team sports. These groups and activities offer the chance to make new friends, develop new skills and have fun. Last year, 81 youth ages 5 - 18 participated on our Sprinters Swim Team.
Matthew has been in the Y pool for as long as he can remember. As a baby, he loved going to the Y pool just to play but after watching Michael Phelps in the 2008 Summer Olympics, he told his parents he wanted to be a swimmer. In 2008 he started swimming lessons and by the following summer, he was able to join the Valley Y Sprinters Swim Team with Coach Kelly and Coach Patrick. Matthew worked hard, rarely missing practice, and quickly started qualifying for meets, including the Tri-State Regional Children’s Specialized Swim Meet. Once there, he classified for the National Junior Disability Championships held in Chicago, Illinois and went on to place first in all seven of his events! In 2010 he went to Regionals and for the National Junior Disability Championships in Michigan. One might think that Matthew swims for the ribbons and recognition, but his motivation is different. “I like to swim because it’s a water activity, it’s a lot of fun, and it helps you get stronger,” he said.
Improving healthy living for people is a priority for the Y. We help children and adults understand and value their health and we nurture their well-being. We offer resources and guidance to maintain or improve physical activity and overall health and wellness. The Y also brings families closer together, encourages wise choices and fosters connections among members through fitness, sports, fun and shared interests. Youth, adults and families are receiving the support they need to achieve greater health and well-being for their spirit, mind and body. Some of the benefits of our Y’s programs are obvious, like learning to swim. But just as important are the not-so-obvious life skills that are learned at the same time: self-confidence, teamwork and the chance to create meaningful personal change. The Y offers membership and fitness opportunities for infants to active older adults. Our facility includes a Pool, Wellness Center, Gymnasium, and two Racquetball Courts.
The Valley YMCA bases much of its success on participation. We know that there is a far greater need in the community than we can hope to alleviate but we look very hard at and measure our success by: 1) increasing the number of overall participants; 2) increasing the amount of financial assistance (FA) awarded; and 3) increasing the number of participants who receive FA.
If the walls of Ys could talk, they would have plenty of positive, life-changing stories to tell – and one of them would be about Alex Smith and his father, Bob. Some people might say that Bob’s stroke is what changed the lives of the Smith family. But the Y members of more than four years say it is the motivation and caring they found at the Y afterwards that changed their lives.
Recovering from a stroke made life challenging, but Alex and Bob found friends and an extended family at the Hamden/North Haven Y. They come to the Y almost every day for fitness and fellowship because it is their home away from home - the place where they can stay healthy in spirit, mind and body. “What makes the Y special is the people,” says Alex. “They make it fun to come here; they’re truly glad to see you and they make us feel like we’re part of the family. I can’t say enough about what the Y means to me and my dad. Just keep on doing what you’re doing because we love you!”
Our Y's recently adopted Real-Time Strategic Plan (RTSP) will serve as our road map to success for years to come. With bold, lofty goals, our next challenge is to operationalize the plan and determine how we are measuring success.
Barbara A. Moore, MS (Association Membership & Healthy Initiatives Director, Healthier Communities Initiatives - CT) currently serves as Executive Director at the Valley YMCA and the Association Membership/Healthy Initiatives program Director. Recently she was the Project Director for Pioneering Healthier Communities and Communities Putting Prevention to Work in Connecticut. The emphasis of this work was addressing policy, systems and environmental change at the state level. Prior to this, Barbara served as the Executive Director and Project Manager for a youth obesity initiative with the South Hampton Roads YMCA Association in Virginia. Barbara’s career at the South Hampton Roads included the positions of Health and Wellness Director, Associate Executive Director and Association Health and Well-Being Director. Barbara was also a faculty trainer for Y-USA in Group Exercise for seven years. She has been involved with leading organizational change through the Gulick collaborative and was a project leader for the Activate America Initiative. At the same time, Barbara was an adjunct faculty for Old Dominion University in the Sports Management Program. Prior to starting a career with the YMCA, Barbara served in the United States Navy in aviation electronics. Barbara holds a B.S. and her Master’s degree from Old Dominion University. She is the proud parent of three grown children and is soon to be a grandmother.
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A healthy community is a rich community. When we enjoy good health, when we engage in wellness activities – and when we support people living with disease or disabilities -- there are profound physical and psychological benefits. Simply put, we are all stronger and happier. To support the health and wellness initiatives in your community is to put good health within reach of all.
When families, schools and communities take the view that children and youth are valued and respected assets to society, they necessarily support environments that nurture youth development. Children raised to embrace positive social values, to seek self-understanding, and to value their self-worth grow to become community-minded young adults with a sense of belonging and a belief in their resiliency. See how you can help our community's children grow into tomorrow's leaders.
A strong community not only meets its members’ basic needs but also works to create long-term solutions to their problems. Provide people with affordable housing, enough to eat and access to affordable health care and you enable them to envision a better future for themselves.
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