On June 6, the YMCA marks more than 170 years as more than a place; it is a movement that offers programs and services designed to foster youth development, healthful living and social responsibility.
Here are five notable events and achievements that demonstrate the Y’s commitment to the communities it serves:
1. American institutions: Celebrations such as Father’s Day and organizations like the Peace Corps all have their roots at the YMCA.
2. Camping under the stars: The oldest-known summer camp, Camp Dudley, first opened in 1855, numerous boys and girls since have learned the skills and wonders of camping through the Y, developing critical skills and making memories along the way.
3. Inventing new ways to play: From James Naismith's invention of basketball to instructors creating racquetball and what eventually would become volleyball, the Y has a rich tradition in activities that are played by millions of people around the globe. One Y staffer, Robert J. Roberts, is credited with inventing the term, “bodybuilding.”
4. Nobel laureate: YMCA leader John R. Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for the Y's groundbreaking role in raising global awareness and support and for the organization’s humanitarian efforts.
5. Furthering education: The Y is credited with spearheading the first public libraries, night school for adult education and English as a Second Language courses.
How the Y is relevant in 2017
Today, the Y serves more than 22 million people annually and offers resources at more than 2,700 locations across all 50 states. Here are three ways “community” continues as the Y’s No. 1 cause:
1. Nurturing the potential of our kids: When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Nationwide, the Y helps more than 9 million youth to close gaps in hunger, health, learning, water safety and safe spaces while providing a place to stay healthy, build friendships and achieve more – all while having fun. Each program demonstrates the Y’s unwavering commitment to ensuring children are on track for a successful education, especially those in underserved communities.
2. Improving the nation’s health: More than a place to work out, the Y offers programs that help individuals and families improve their health and enact changes that strengthen their community and society as a whole. From working with people who are trying to find ways to improve health but don’t know how to preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and helping people recover from serious illnesses like cancer, the Y is one of the few organizations in the country with the size and influence that effectively could reach millions of people.
3. Support for all our neighbors: As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, the Y's social services and volunteer programs help more than 10,000 communities nationwide. From helping newcomers and immigrants adjust to new communities to member-led community-service projects such as our Y Healthy Kids Network, every effort helps to make a difference.
For more information on Y programs, visit www.ymca.net/forabetterus.
Dana Moore is the Y Western Branch director and handles marketing and communications for the Licking County Family YMCA. Email her at email@example.com. The Y branches are at 470 W. Church St. in Newark and 355 W. Broad St. in Pataskala.