Nothing Runs on Empty: September is Hunger Action Month

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As so many communities in Texas rally together to provide aid to all those effected by Hurricane Harvey, and now with the impending threat of Hurricane Irma, it seems the needs of so many communities in our nation are wide and deep. One need that is present now and always is HUNGER.

September is Hunger Action Month. This is an opportunity to join a movement - a cause -  that has a real and lasting impact on our effort to feed more Americans than ever before. Whether it’s by advocating and raising awareness, supporting the Y through your membership and future donation to our 2018 Community Support Campaign, wearing orange, or volunteering, you can find a way that’s right for you to make a difference during Hunger Action Month. 

Often we mistakenly fall victim to thinking any one of us alone can make a difference. But together, ripples are made. 

An estimated 49.1 million Americans live in food-insecure households including nearly 16 million children. That means one child in every five doesn’t know where or when they’ll have their next meal. 

To drill that down a little closer to home... Last year alone, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga served 350,000 meals to needy children in the greater Chattanooga area. Yes, this is occurring while you attend group exercise classes; meet with a trainer; utilize any of our Youth Sports, Aquatics or any other programs. It's happening YEAR ROUND. And the need is growing. In 2018, we'll add 100,000 MORE meals to that number. 

In the last four years alone, the local need has meant growing from four feeding sites to now 85 sites - where one or two meals are served five days per week. 

Chances are, someone your child goes to school with struggles getting enough to eat. Chances are, someone your child knows attends a school that the Y provides meals to, or recognizes our YMCA feeding truck when it pulls into a site or neighborhood near them. 

We wrap all this up to simply state: When there is a need, the Y steps in.  When you join the Y or support us in other ways through financial donations; encouraging friends and family to join; or in seeking volunteer opportunities, you stand with us in our efforts to leave the community in a better state than when we found it -- and that makes for a healthier us... a better us. 

Back to School = Back to Health

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Summer break is coming down the home stretch and if you feel like you are a human ATM machine paying for fees - or if you find your evening activity revolves around building forts out of the mountains of school supplies, you are not alone. It seems like summer has flown by and now we find ourselves scrambling to get things in order for the first day of school.

If you're like most families, your comfortable routine may have been somewhat disrupted by summer camps, vacations, pool time, relaxed eating/indulgences, etc. Getting back to school should be an open opportunity for us all to return to healthy schedules and routines. Now is the time! 

Whether you successfully kept a healthy routine in check over the summer months or perhaps it went a bit too relaxed, make sure you get back in the swing of things or step it up this Fall!  Regardless of whether you love aquatics classes, group exercise classes, personal training, or just utilizing equipment on the floor -- here are some ways to mix things up and ‘Fall’ Back to Overall Health: 

  • Healthy Body
    1. Mix it up! If you do the same, you'll get the same. If you find yourself caught in a rut in the same rotation of the same classes, not only are you missing out on dozens of other great ones, but you are encouraging your body to stay exactly where it is today, and for most of us, that is not the end goal. If you more frequently utilize the floor machines, mix those up too! Try something new, and don't be intimidated to walk into a new class. Trust us, instructors at every branch as well as the staff on the wellness floors WANT TO SEE NEW PEOPLE! And they want to help you find the perfect fit for you! 

    2. If you’ve never utilized a Personal Trainer, maybe now is the time – especially if you feel stagnant in your routine or need that extra motivation from someone else to help you meet your goals.

    3. Nutrition. It really comes down to being sensible, doesn’t it? Sadly, there’s no magic powder and no perfect equation that works for everyone. Aim to add more color to your plate, shop on the perimeter of the grocery store, and lots of drink water! When you can, plan time to think not only about your own meals, but also your family’s. It doesn't have to be some extravagant Pinterest creation, it can be as easy as planning Crockpot days or one meal planning day each week - or even swapping healthy recipes with a friend.
     
  • Healthy Mind
    Sometimes we let this one fall by the wayside. Remember that a healthy body means also keeping your mind and spirit healthy too. Perhaps you need to set aside some time for yourself each day – whether that means time to clear your mind through exercise at the Y or simply sitting, reading, or taking in the outdoors. Get to know other members at your Y and socialize inside the facility or even escape for coffee or lunch occasionally. Many people find a mind, body, spirit class such as Yoga or Pilates is just the ticket. Whatever it is for you, take the time to pay attention to your mind and unwind. Oh, and turn off your phone for a few minutes every day! 
     
  • Healthy Spirit
    No, we aren’t necessarily telling you this means not to miss the sermon on Sundays (though that might be what works for you). Just like striving for a healthy body and mind, this isn't a one size fits all approach. Again, this could be a mind, body, spirit class such as Yoga, or it could be a small group – it could even be volunteering or discovering a new passion.

During the months of August and September, we’ll be encouraging you to get back to health – whatever health means for you. We’ll also spotlight classes and other healthy living programs and ways to enrich your health journey. When in doubt, ask a staff member to help you find the perfect fit!

Savor what’s left of summer for sure, but don’t fret Fall – look at it as the season to seize new opportunities to further your health journey.

Downtown YMCA Preschool: Play, Learn, and Grow Together

If you’re a parent, you’re likely starting to think ahead to back to school. Savoring the last few weeks of Summer, but reminded when you walk into Walmart, Target and other retail stores that it’s almost time to head back.

At the Downtown Family YMCA, we’re thinking ahead too. Unless you frequently attend the Downtown YMCA, you may not have known we have a preschool. What makes ours unique? Keep reading.

Healthy Living
Healthy living isn’t just a focus we “preach” without follow through. We practice it in all programs and facets of the Y, from young to old. In this case, even with our tiny tots! Where else can your child get swim lessons and pool time while at preschool? Our preschool children learn valuable swim skills from certified instructors.

But we take healthy living a step further and offer FREE household memberships to all preschool enrolled families. At the Y, we want the family unit to fully utilize our facility.

“Many families utilize our wellness programs with confidence, knowing that their children are happy and healthy in our care,” says Emily Cornelius, Downtown YMCA Preschool Director.

Healthy Foods
Partnerships with the Child and Adult Care Food Program, along with United Way hold our program accountable for children’s health and development. Therefore, we serve fresh produce and even offer one vegetarian lunch per week, while still meeting guidelines outlined by the USDA.

A Focus on Christian Principles and Curriculum Excellence
Our teachers conduct quarterly assessments on the children in their classes to learn more about their growth in our program. Curriculum is adjusted based on the results of evaluations to ensure social-emotional, physical, cognitive, and language development for all children.

“The YMCA Child Development Center is unlike any other program I have experienced,” says Cornelius. “I am proud to be leading a team of passionate teachers. The educators in our school genuinely care about the well-being and intellectual development of each child. Incorporating Christianity into our curriculum while also learning about various customs and cultures, ensures that children respect their beliefs and become accepting of others.”

“We are thrilled with the YMCA preschool program,” says Libby Clark, who’s two children are currently enrolled in the Y preschool. “It’s one of the most affordable choices in Chattanooga.

“It matches our family’s values because it places heavy emphasis on healthy eating, movement, social skills, and creative play,” says Clark. “Perhaps most importantly, the teachers and staff have acted as incredible partners with us during our adoption process. Not only have they truly cared for our girls, but they have supported us as new parents and a new family as well. We are so thankful to be a part of this wonderful school.”

Location, Location, Location
Located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, we’re one of the few preschools/child care facilities in the downtown area, making the Y a great choice for working parents.

For more information on registering your child at the Downtown YMCA Preschool, contact Emily Cornelius at ecornelius@ymcachattanooga.org.

Contributing authors: Emily Cornelius, preschool director & Libby Clark, preschool parent.

'Y' Blog

We live in a digital day and age. More than half of the world has a smart phone, and more than half of ALL web traffic comes from mobile devices! Social media has transformed our digital lives. You can catch up on anything and anyone under the sun via Facebook, Internet, Instagram, Twitter, etc. It’s almost sensory overload, isn’t it? But these vehicles can-- and do-- serve invaluable purposes in engaging groups of people and keeping them“in the know." The YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga agrees.

Yes, you can check our website, Facebook, or other social media platforms to find out what we are up to. So ‘WHY’ does the Y need a blog? Several reasons, actually:

  • Much like all our lives, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga moves full throttle 365 days a year. There’s so much we are doing! We want to share it all with our members and community, but understand the need to share it on multiple platforms and via several ways and perspectives

  • The "What's in it for me?" card - Whether we admit or not, our minds gravitate to what's in it for us. What's the benefit to me? What do I get out of it?  While we certainly will blog about topics that will directly benefit you individually (your health, tips, membership, your children, incentives, etc.), we will also elaborate and encourage you to think outside the "me" mindset from time to time. Yes, the YMCA is in the business of benefiting you, but equally, if not more importantly, we are also in the business of benefiting the community. 

  • Community Outreach/Social Responsibility – Feeding Programs, Youth Development, Tutoring, Backpack Blessings, Youth Trust, After school Programs, Community Support Campaign, etc. Where there’s a need in the greater Chattanooga/Cleveland/North Georgia area, the YMCA is striving to meet it. There's value in you hearing stories of impact and ways we utilize membership dollars and Community Support Campaign money to further the Y's cause. 

  • Healthy Living – At any given time, there are countless programs/opportunities to better your overall health. It’s hard to keep up with them all and sometimes it may feel hard to find the perfect fit for you. We can help educate you on next steps and point you to staff who can guide you along the way! 

  • Youth Development – Building strong, confident kids is at the heart of what we do. Through programs like Summer Day Camp, Preschool, Childwatch, Youth Sports, YMCA Camp Ocoee, YMCA Y-CAP, BOLD/GOLD, and others, we are leaving a lasting ripple in the lives of children. 

So, to sum up the question of WHY a Y blog… We want this space to be valuable open forum for us to discuss some of our endeavors and helpful programs/information for YOU. At the same time, we want to share stories and voices that may activate you to engage socially with others, or directly through volunteering or giving to the YMCA. Topics will change. Authors and voices will change. You’ll become more familiar with the hands and feet behind the scenes and know us better. You'll also get greater explanation into some of our programs, which may help you find the best fit for you at the YMCA. In doing so, you’ll be helping us better serve you -- and the community.


- Cara Standifer

Marketing Director, YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga