YMCA of Central Ohio

Volunteering: It’s good for your health!

National Volunteer Week is April 23rd-29th!

President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974, as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. Since then, the the week has become a nationwide effort to urge people to get out and volunteer in their communities. Every April, charities, hospitals, and communities recognize volunteers and foster a culture of service.

Mental/Physical Health Benefit Statistics:

  • Essentially, having a sense of purpose affects your health. (Source)
  • Volunteers feel socially connected, which reduces depression and anxiety (Source)
  • When Canadian tenth-graders in a recent study began volunteering at an after-school program for children, the high schoolers lost weight and had improved cholesterol profiles compared to their non-volunteering peers.
  • In the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the researchers concluded, “Adolescents who volunteer to help others also benefit themselves, suggesting a novel way to improve health.”
  • In another randomized controlled trial at Washington University in St. Louis, older adults who began tutoring children through a program called Experience Corps demonstrated improvements in stamina, memory, and flexibility, as well as levels of depression
  • New findings further a case for adding volunteering to the list of things that physicians recommend to all patients. (Study, January 2016 journal Social Science and Medicine)
  • Volunteering lowers mortality risk by 24 percent 
  • Those who volunteer regularly live longer
  • A two-year study that looked at 7,168 Americans over age 50 (only some of whom did volunteer work in their communities) found that after adjusting for a wide range of confounding variables, volunteers were more likely to get flu shots, mammograms, Pap smears, cholesterol tests, and prostate exams. Most importantly, volunteering was associated with 38 percent fewer nights spent in the hospital. Volunteers make decisions about their health that are different from non-volunteers. One way to think about this is that when we care for ourselves, in a fundamental way, it allows us to care for others.” (Source)


Find the Y's volunteer opportunities here!

A Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes of Your “Swim and Gym”

If you’ve spent any time at the Y, you know we have weights, yoga, and awesome swimming pools. We hope that you also know we have a tight-knit, supportive, and uplifting community in all of our branches. But you may not be aware of all the work that the Y does to make central Ohio helping underserved parts of our communities. So, if you’ve ever wondered what it is that the Y actually does to create lasting change, we’re here to answer those questions!

One of the easiest ways to look at what we do in and around Columbus is our 5 Pillars. The pillars are subsets of our three focus areas:

Each of our pillars focuses on a different aspect of the work that we do to create better quality of life in our community:

So, what is it that we do? And might it affect you or the people you love? Read on to find out.


Childhood Development and Educational Achievement

The first pillar focuses on the younger members of our community--that is, those in fifth grade and below. We focus on the physical, cognitive and social/emotional growth and progression of children so that they will have more opportunities and brighter futures as they grow older.

In our programs, we seek to provide safe and supportive spaces while fulfilling specific learning goals (such as meeting  “ready to learn” benchmarks and reading at grade level by grade 3) and reducing summer learning loss. Outside of academic-oriented work, we also instill healthy habits, values, and the skills to develop positive relationships and a sense of belonging.

What does this look like?

We prepare children to take on the world with programs like:

Some of these are designed for specific groups, such as children with disabilities or low-income families. However, all of our programs nurture and encourage children to become their best selves.

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Youth and Teen Development

Our support doesn’t stop once your child hits a certain age. We give older youth and teens challenges, experiences, and support that help give them tools to fulfill their potential. We work to further instill the skills, values and behaviors that lead to healthy habits and increased confidence and self-esteem.

Our youth and teen development programs build on our child care and early childhood education to provide social and recreational programs that offer opportunities to explore the world and learn more about art, science, culture, nature and citizenship. We cultivate a desire to be of service to others in the community, a sense of direction, and feelings of hope about the future.

What does this look like?

We work to to prepare youth to be capable, well-adjusted adults through a wide variety of programs:

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Healthy Communities

You may think that this pillar is only tied to fitness and working out, but the truth is that the Y’s resources build not just physical, but also mental, social, and emotional health. We help our community to invest in their future help by reducing the likelihood of chronic disease and developing healthy habits.

We connect individuals and families, creating supportive small communities where people have access to lifelong learning and growth opportunities. This community fosters the development of peer friendships and supportive staff relationships, provides opportunities to help those in need, and exposes individuals and families to the great value of our community’s diversity.

What does that look like?

We offer evidence-based signature chronic disease prevention and maintaince programs like:

We also support healthy activities like swimming, family camp, adult sports, group wellness, wellness behavior tracking and more.

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Housing to Eliminate Homelessness

Preventing and reducing homelessness in central Ohio is a priority for us because we believe that all people deserve to have their their physical, mental, and emotional needs met. We use a “housing first” intervention model to ensure that we connect individuals
with the services that they need in order to end their housing crisis and foster stability.

Our responsibility to our residents, however, goes beyond housing. We give them ongoing support with education, benefits and employment to provide opportunities to overcome barriers. This allows residents to develop the skills and competencies needed to live independently.

We encourage peer friendships and supportive staff relationships, and we nurture feelings of emotional and physical safety by being sensitive to the need for trauma informed care and crisis intervention.

What does that look like?

We serve people suffering from homelessness through:

  • Van BurenCenter
  • Franklin Station
  • Downtown YMCA residential locations
  • strategic partnerships with other community providers
  • programs like Rebuilding Lives, Columbus Sole, and Return Home Ohio

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Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Our final pillar points us continually towards the future. We are always working to ensure that we are growing to better meet the needs of our community. Through continued innovation and training, we seek out creative opportunities to unleash the power of business for social good in our community and within the YMCA. To accomplish our goals, we are continually working to improve our performance in areas such as volunteer engagement, employee skills, technology, and more.

We provide impactful business solutions to identified community and organizational needs, develop stronger leaders within our organization, and accelerate the growth of our Y so that we can serve a broader range of people.

What does that look like?

Along with initiatives to provide shared services to Ys and to develop innovation competencies in our staff and volunteers, we use prototypes to continually push boundaries in efficiency and innovation like:

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That’s a lot, huh?

The incredible breadth and depth of programs is part of what makes the YMCA such an amazing organization. We are so proud to be able to serve the people of central Ohio in so many different ways.

But, the thing is... we can’t do it all on our own. Donations from our community are what makes it possible for us to influence so many people. If you’re interested in giving back and want to support the work that the Y does, we welcome your donation.


  Help us make a better us

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5 days of Action against Child Sexual Abuse

At the YMCA of Central Ohio, we understand that a parent’s worst fear is something happening to their child, and we know how much trust it takes to place your child into someone else’s care.

That’s why, as the largest provider of child care in central Ohio, we do not take your confidence lightly. Every time we welcome a child into our care, it becomes our responsibility to provide a nurturing, safe, and protected environment where he or she can learn, grow and thrive.

Because the YMCA of Central Ohio is committed to the safety of all children, we take steps every day to prevent child abuse. These steps include reference and criminal background checks for all staff and volunteers, requiring all staff to participate in annual child abuse prevention training, and staying vigilant for events out of the ordinary by conducting interviews and evaluations with children and parents. Finally, we take allegations or suspicions of child abuse seriously by reporting to police and state agencies for investigation.

On the week of April 24, the nation will come together to prevent child abuse through KNOW, SEE, RESPOND. During this national prevention week, the YMCA of Central Ohio will join other Ys across the country by conducting additional educational sessions for staff and distributing informational materials to the members, families and communities we serve. We will also be be raising awareness at our Healthy Kid’s Day celebrations on April 29.

We’re highlighting a three-step approach to help adults, parents and staff stay watchful:

Know: Learn how to recognize inappropriate behavior in adults, identify indications of abuse in children, and teach children how they can stay safe.

See: Pay close attention to your children and the people in their lives, staying vigilant for signs of abuse and knowing how to communicate with your child about their experiences.

Respond: If you see a child displaying behavior that matches common warning signs of abuse, notice suspicious actions from an adult, or you hear about something that sounds like abuse, report it immediately.

If you have children or interact with children on a regular basis, we encourage you to learn more about signs of abuse.

You’ll find lots of educational information on social media as the week progresses, so please keep an eye out and share with the people around you. The more people we can reach with this vital information, the better we can protect children throughout central Ohio and communities across the nation.


#ForABetterUs Membership Photo Sweepstakes

Win a year membership to the Y!

How? It’s simple! Participate in our #ForABetterUs photo challenge below for your chance to win!

One winner will be selected from your branch. Winners must have current email address and phone number on file. No purchase necessary to enter or win.


ELIGIBILITY:  To be eligible to participate in the Promotion, you must be (i) a resident of central Ohio or (ii) at least 18 years of age, and (iii) a legal U.S. citizen or a permanent U.S. resident at the time of entry.  Membership to the YMCA of Central Ohio is not required to enter. YMCA of Central Ohio reserves the right to verify your eligibility if you are named as a winner in the Promotion. Employees of the YMCA of Central Ohio, their immediate families (spouse, parents, children, siblings and their respective spouses), and individuals living in the same household as such employees are not eligible to enter this Promotion.

HOW TO ENTER:  No purchase is necessary.  The Promotion begins on April 4, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. EST and ends on May 31, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EST.  You may enter the Promotion by participating in the #ForABetterUs photo challenge and posting your answer on social media. Everyone has an equal chance of winning.  All entries must be complete.  Incomplete, inaccurate, or forged entries are void.  Limit one entry per person. By entering, you are giving the YMCA of Central Ohio permission to share and use your posts for future use.

PRIZE:  There will be one (1) prize per YMCA of Central Ohio branch, plus an online winner, a total of 14 winners of the sweepstakes. The prize is a free one-year citywide membership to the YMCA of Central Ohio (retail value of up to $800).  The membership prize must be activated by June 30, 2017, and will be valid for 12 months from the date of activation. The odds of winning the prize depend on the number of eligible entries received.  Prize is non-transferable. No substitution or cash equivalent allowed.

DRAWING AND NOTIFICATION: A random drawing will be held at the YMCA of Central Ohio Metropolitan Offices on or about June 1 from all eligible entries received by the Y.  The winner will be notified by email or via their social media account(s) no later than June 3, 2017.  In the event of undeliverable prize notification or the winner’s noncompliance with the rules herein, the prize may be forfeited and awarded to an alternative winner. Except where legally prohibited, entry constitutes permission to use winner’s name for publicity purposes without further compensation.

GENERAL CONDITIONS:  By participating in the Promotion, you agree to release and hold harmless the YMCA of Central Ohio and its affiliates and their respective employees, officers, directors, successors and assigns from any and all liability for any injuries, losses or damage of any kind which may arise in connection with this Promotion or the acceptance and/or use of any prize.  Taxes, and all other expenses not specified herein, if any, are the responsibility of the winner. YMCA of Central Ohio reserves the right to disqualify any entrant who does not comply with any of the rules stated herein.  Void where prohibited by law. The Promotion is subject to all applicable federal, state, municipal, and local laws and regulations.

All Branches Closed on Easter

All of our YMCA of Central Ohio branches will be closed on Sunday, April 16 2017. Enjoy spending this day with your friends and family!


Healthy Kids Day 2017

Nothing charges up kids like summer—and Healthy Kids Day® is the Y's official start to the best summer ever!  So make sure your kids get the most they can out of this summer...in spirit, mind and body.  Everyone is welcome to enjoy the fun!

On Saturday, April 29, the YMCA of Central Ohio is celebrating the Y’s national initiative to improve the health and well-being of families. This free event  will include fun active play and educational activities to keep kids moving and learning, in order to maintain healthy habits and academic skills to achieve goals and reach their full potential. Millions of children and their families are expected to participate in Healthy Kids at nearly 1,600 events across the country.

Join us at your local branch on April 29, 2017 for fun activities for the kids and family. Find information about the events at each branch below. Keep an eye on this page--we will continue to add branches and update the information as time goes on! 

Delaware (8:30-11:30am)

  • 5k/1 mile run/walk
  • Kickball Tournament
  • Touch-A-Truck
  • Bounce House 
  • And much, much more to come!

Grove City (9:00am-12:00pm)

  • Games, crafts, activities and more

North (10am-2pm)

  • PNC Mobile learning unit 
  • Activies
  • Games

Hilliard (10:00am-2:00pm)

  • More information soon

Hilltop (10:00am-2:00pm)

  • Field Games
  • Activities
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Vendors
  • And much, much more to come!

Jerry L. Garver (1:00-4:00pm)

  • Field Games
  • Activities
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Vendors
  • Cook-out from 4:00-5:00pm
  • And much, much more to come!

Pickaway (10:00am-1:00pm)

  • Community fair
  • STEM
  • Creative Arts
  • Gymnastics, Dance and Martial Arts Demos
  • Hockey
  • And much, much more to come!

Liberty (10am-1pm)

  • Games
  • Activites
  • Crafts
  • Cooking demo
  • Vendors
  • Community cycling ride

Eldon and Elsie Ward Family YMCA (12:00pm-3:00pm)

  • More information soon!

Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA (12-3pm)

  • Games, crafts, activities and more!

Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA (11am-2pm)

  • Food trucks, critters, bounce houses, face painting, games and more!

Hilliker YMCA (9am-11:30am)

  • Games, activities, crafts, vendors


American Heart Month Tips

American Heart Month Tips

February is American Heart Month, and as a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Central Ohio offers the following tips to help families in Columbus, Ohio be heart healthy.

1. Get Physical: Being physically active every day is fun and can improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play; for example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.

2. Take a Snooze: Lack of sleep can be associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines for the whole family to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.

3. Shape Up Those Recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food without sacrificing tastes. For example, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skip the seasoning packet and use pepper and olive oil instead. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package, select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.

4. Feeling the Pressure: Per the American Heart Association lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 3 adults (about 80 million people) has high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with you doctor if needed.

5. Play Together: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or build a snow fort together in the yard or the park. 

For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit ymcacolumbus.org

February is American Heart Month

Make a Vow to Lower Blood Pressure and Reduce Sodium Intake during American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month and as a leading community-based organization committed to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Central Ohio urges everyone in Columbus to help prevent heart disease by lowering your blood pressure. Two ways to keep the pressure off your heart are by monitoring your blood pressure and reducing sodium intake.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the nation’s number one killer, responsible for 1 in 3 deaths each year in the United States. Additionally, 32.6 percent—about 80 million adults—have high blood pressure with less than half having it under control. High blood pressure is most prevalent in minority communities, and is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” because there are typically no warning signs or symptoms.

To address the prevalence of heart disease, the Y has made a national commitment to the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes. 

Besides monitoring your blood pressure, reducing sodium intake is a great way to keep your heart healthy. Per the American Heart Association (AHA), too much sodium in your system puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. Everyone, including kids, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure.

The Y offers the following tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help reduce sodium in your diet. 

1. Think fresh: Most of the sodium Americans eat is found in processed foods. Eat highly processed foods less often and in smaller portions—especially cheesy foods, such as pizza; cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli/luncheon meats; and ready-to-eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli and soups. Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium.
2. Enjoy home-prepared foods: Cook more often at home—where you are in control of what’s in your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.
3. Fill up on veggies and fruits—they are naturally low in sodium: Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits—fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
4. Adjust your taste buds:  Cut back on salt little by little—and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods. Your taste for salt will lessen over time. Additionally, keep salt off the kitchen counter and the dinner table and substitute spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods.
5. Boost your potassium intake: Choose foods with potassium, which may help to lower your blood pressure. Potassium is found in vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice and sauce, sweet potatoes, beans (white, lima, kidney), and bananas. Other sources of potassium include yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice and milk.

The YMCA of Central Ohio offers a community of diverse individuals who can support all people in meeting their health and well-being goals. Learn more by visiting ymcacolumbus.org or stopping into your local Y.

YMCA of Central Ohio Branch Holiday Hours 2016


  Christmas Eve
(Saturday, 12/24)
Christmas Day
(Sunday, 12/25)
Observing Holiday
(Monday, 12/26)
New Year's Eve
(Saturday, 12/31)
New Year's Day
(Sunday, 1/1)
Delaware Community Center YMCA 7am-4pm Closed Regular Hours 7am-4pm 12pm-7pm
Downtown YMCA 7am-12pm Closed Closed 7am-12pm Closed
Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA 7am-3pm Closed Regular Hours 7am-3pm Regular Hours
Eldon & Elsie Ward Family YMCA Closed Closed Regular Hours Closed Regular Hours
The YMCA at Clark Hall Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed
Grove City YMCA Closed Closed Regular Hours Closed Regular Hours
Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA 7am-4pm Closed Regular Hours 7am-6pm 11am-4pm
Hilltop YMCA Closed Closed Regular Hours Closed Regular Hours
Jerry L. Garver YMCA Closed Closed Regular Hours Closed 11 a.m. -5 p.m.
Liberty Twp./Powell YMCA 7am-4pm Closed Regular Hours 7am-4pm 11am-7pm
North YMCA Closed Closed 7am-7pm Closed Regular Hours
Pickaway County Family YMCA Closed Closed Regular Hours Closed Closed
Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA Closed  Closed Regular Hours Closed Closed
Head Start Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed


New Membership Policy

The Y strives to understand why a member is choosing to leave us and to the best of our ability seeks to resolve any issues or dissatisfaction a member may have. Losing valuable members of our family is something we take very serious. We often find that members prefer to stay with the Y and any issues can be resolved. However, we also understand that circumstances may arise that cannot be avoided and the difficult decision to leave the Y is necessary.

Effective January 1, 2017 the YMCA of Central Ohio will require 30 days written notice of membership cancellation. Our current policy allows a member to cancel in writing, 5 days (not business days) prior to their bank draft date. This practice has proven to cause issues of unanticipated bank drafts, lengthy processes for refunds, difficulty in timely communication with banking institutions and more.

As you know, joining the YMCA of Central Ohio is not a contract-based membership and we do not charge a cancellation fee which is very common in the industry. Therefore, this is a policy that is more closely aligned with most standard business policies.

Thank you for being a valued YMCA member.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is changing?

The YMCA of Central Ohio is updating its Membership Cancellation Policy, effective January 1, 2017.
Our current policy allows a member to cancel in writing 5 days (not business days) prior to their bank draft date. The new policy will require 30 days notice of cancellation in writing.

How will this affect my membership if I need to cancel?

If a member cancels without providing the required 30 days written notice, the member will experience an additional bank draft before their membership is officially canceled. Regardless, a notice of written cancellation is still required.

Why is the cancellation policy changing?

Our current policy’s time frame does not provide the Y enough time to submit updated information to banking institutions. This practice has proven to cause issues of unanticipated drafts, overdrafts, lengthy processes for refunds, difficulty in timely communication with banking institutions and more.

Additionally, the Y strives to understand why a member is choosing to leave us and, to the best of our ability, seeks to resolve any issues or dissatisfaction a member may have.With such a short time frame currently offered for cancellation, we lose valuable members of our family. We often find members prefer to stay with the Y and any issues can be resolved quickly.

Since YMCA memberships are not contract-based and no cancellation fee is charged, which is very common in the industry, this is a policy that falls in line with most standard business practices.

How does this change benefit members?

When a member makes the difficult decision to leave the Y and provides the required 30 days written notice, they can feel comfortable knowing they will not be drafted unexpectedly after 30 days or worry about having sufficient funds to cover an unexpected draft. Additionally, this will prevent members from having to wait for a refund which is a common occurrence with the current five day policy.

Members who have provided the required 30 days notice will still have access to the Y to utilize the remaining days of their membership, guest passes and accessibility to classes and programs at the member rate.

Finally, if a member has had an unsatisfactory experience, we want to make every effort to correct an issue to the member’s satisfaction.

Does this policy apply when if I place my account on hold or downgrade my/our membership to another category?

Yes, the 30 days of written notice for changes that affect the member’s bank draft amount will be affected by this policy.

The Y Organizes Child Care Initiative, Zoe’s Kids Day Out, on Election Day to Support Busy Parents

The Y’s Zoe for President Campaign Aims to Get Parents to the Polls
The Y Organizes Nationwide Child Care Initiative, Zoe’s Kids Day Out, on Election Day to Support Busy Parents

Columbus, OH (October 31, 2016)— Today the YMCA of Central Ohio announced Zoe’s Kids Day Out; an initiative to host child care services on Election Day, providing busy parents and caregivers the opportunity to make it easier to get to the polls on November 8. Acknowledging taking kids to the polls may add stress for busy parents and caregivers, the Y is committed to doing its part to make sure all Americans can vote.

The YMCA of Central Ohio will offer varieties of child care/child watch on November 8. Some YMCA branches are polling locations. Please check your local YMCA for more information.

Zoe’s Kids Day Out is a component of Zoe for President, the Y’s effort to elect a one-year-old girl as our nation’s Commander in Chief…in 2064. It highlights the potential the Y sees in all kids to grow up and change the world if they’re nurtured properly and supported along the way. Through Y initiatives like child care, academic enrichment, mentorship, college prep, job training, and more, kids have the opportunities to succeed, grow, and one day, maybe even become president. The Y aims to impart the values of what it means to achieve—how hard work, determination, perseverance and character can drive someone to success beyond what they thought possible.

“Our hope is that Zoe’s Kids Day Out helps parents and caregivers make sure their voices are heard, and the very children we care for are given every opportunity to reach their future potential,” said Tina Badurina, Vice President of Marketing and Communication, YMCA of Central Ohio. “As the largest provider of child care in the country, the Y sees the potential in all kids and understands if given the opportunity to succeed, children can grow up to be anything they want—including president.”

Zoe’s Kids Day Out initiative is part of Zoe’s larger campaign to “Rattle the Vote,” and encourage voter participation. Another component of “Rattle the Vote” is a customizable social media video generator available November 1. The video generator will give users an opportunity to create “Get Out The Vote” video messages from Zoe on ZoeForPresident.net that they can share with their friends and family on social media channels.

This initiative marks the second phase of the Y’s For a better us™ campaign, a multi-year, multi-faceted effort to engage more people with the Y and its mission as a nonprofit.  Earlier this year, the Y launched two powerful television commercials, Places, and Idle Hands, each spotlighting a different problem that communities in America face today.  Both spots showcased the Y’s nonprofit work on the ground, engaging and enriching kids and families through safe spaces, mentorship, education, meal programs and more.

Healthy Weight and Your Child

Healthy Weight and Your Child is back this fall! Reclaim your family’s health through healthier eating habits and an active lifestyle through Healthy Weight and Your Child. The YMCA of Central Ohio is participating nationally in a pilot program to address childhood obesity in youth ages 7-13, with a body mass index of 95th percentiles or higher. A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness. The program is for the children and their families and will be offered at the following YMCA of Central Ohio locations:

Delaware Community Center YMCA
Start date - September 12, 2016
Class held on Monday and Wednesday from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Contact Amy Mosser: amosser@ymcacolumbus.org

Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA
Start date - September 15, 2016
Class held on Thursday from 6:00-8:00 p.m. and Sunday 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Contact Michael Weber: michael.weber@ymcacolumbus.org

Eldon and Elsie Ward Family YMCA
Start date - September 13, 2016
Class held on Tuesday and Thursday from 6 pm to 8 pm
Contact Kelci Dillard: kelci.dillard@ymcacolumbus.org

All branch contact: Kelci Dillard: kelci.dillard@ymcacolumbus.org



YMCA of Central Ohio wins United Way 2016 Champion of Children Award

YMCA of Central Ohio wins United Way 2016 Champion of Children Award

The YMCA of Central Ohio was named as the non-profit organization, 2016 Champion of Children Winner by the United Way of Central Ohio. Today’s announcement was made at the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s weekly meeting. Honored as the individual winner was Columbus City Schools Superintendent, Dan Good.

“We are extremely honored to have received such a prestigious award,” stated Steve Ives, President and CEO for the YMCA of Central Ohio. “We are committed to the development, care and nurturing of all children and thank the United Way of Central Ohio for this extraordinary recognition.”

Each year, the United Way of Central Ohio names one local individual and organization for demonstrating exceptional commitment to local education efforts. The YMCA of Central Ohio was nominated by PNC Bank for the 2016 honor.

“It is truly fitting that Dan Good was recognized for his work with Columbus City Schools,” said Ives. “Columbus City Schools is an exceptional community partner to the Y shares our vision for the potential of all central Ohio youth. Our congratulations go to Dan and his leadership of Columbus City Schools.”

Celebrating National Welcoming Week at the New American Festival

By Malik Moore, Global Initiatives and Executive Director, North YMCA, Columbus, Ohio.

Every September for the last four years, the YMCA of Central Ohio has partnered with our neighbors at Ethiopian Tawahedo Social Services (ETSS) to celebrate Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year, and also welcome our neighbors from across the globe during National Welcoming Week. The festival has grown in number as well as cultural diversity, with over 1,000 attendees from African, Asian, Latin American, and resident communities. The languages, cultures, and traditions of these groups vary, but all have come together for a common cause: to become self-sufficient and establish roots in a new country.

In the spirit of this transition, the strength and cultures of each of Central Ohio’s new communities come together for the New American Festival in Columbus, Ohio, which takes place in conjunction with Enkutatash. Columbus is a community that celebrates many holidays and festivals - Asian Festival, PRIDE, the Puerto Rican Festival, and Greek Festival to name some. Sadly, many of our newest communities are not large enough to have their very own celebration. Thanks to Dr. Seleshi Asfaw, Executive Director of ETSS, and Laura Berger, Director of Development, the New American Festival is a celebration for all. People of all walks of life come together to celebrate - Ethiopian, Cambodian, Burmese, Somali, Nigerian - and so many more. The New American Festival is a great way to bring the Columbus community together and is now a regular part of National Welcoming Week. "When you come to the New American Festival, you see faces of all colors" said Dr. Asfaw.

"When you come to the New American Festival, you see faces of all colors"

The face of Central Ohio is rapidly changing, with over 110,000 New Americans living in Franklin County. Resettlement agencies represent and serve New Americans from over 40 different countries. In 2016, we anticipate the largest New American Festival crowd ever - more than 2,000 people – including newcomers from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and individuals from Central Ohio communities who have an interest in learning more about their new neighbors, co-workers and classmates. There will be street art, food vendors, World Cup-styled soccer tournaments, and stage performances from people representing a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. There will also be a fleet of community service agencies present to engage and connect with some of our communities’ newest and most amazing residents.

National Welcoming Week 2016 will take place September 16-25. 

Thank you National Swimming Pool Foundation




Thank you to the National Swimming Pool Foundation for their $10,000 grant to kick-start the Safety Around Water Program.  This grant will be very helpful in the development of the program and could generate more support for next year.

The YMCA’s Safety Around Water program helps to make sure youth learn essential water safety skills, which can open up a world of possibilities for them to satisfy their curiosity safely.  Through learning how to perform a sequenced set of skills over eight lessons of 40 minutes each, the risk of drowning is reduced, giving your child confidence in and around water.

A typical session includes exercises to help kids adjust to being in water, specific safety topics like what to do if you see someone in the water who needs help, and fun activities that reinforce skills.  Swimming lessons are associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in ages 1-4.

Sign up for your child for lessons now. Visit http://www.ymcacolumbus.org/swim-lessons for more information.

Independence Day Hours

Check out which branches will be open on Independence Day, Monday, July 4.


Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m

Jerry L. Garver YMCA: 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Grove City YMCA: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA: 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Liberty Township/Powell YMCA: 12:00-6:00 p.m.


Delaware Community Center YMCA

Downtown YMCA

Hilltop YMCA

North YMCA

Pickaway County Family YMCA

Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA

Eldon & Elsie Ward Family YMCA

The Y at Clark Hall


YMCA Summer Food Program

1 in 4 central Ohio children don’t know where their next meal will come from. Last summer, the YMCA of Central Ohio provided 25,782 breakfasts, 75,373 lunches and 6,483 snacks through 16 sites in impoverished communities where children struggle to find food while away from school.

Now in it’s fourth year, the YMCA will expand it’s reach, adding a mobile van traveling to two new sites at a Metro Park just outside the Grove City area and a near West Side apartment complex. Funding for the food is sponsored by Columbus Recreation and Parks. Funding for recreational activities and staff is funded through the Walmart Foundation. 

Open feeding sites attract in excess of 250 children per day who are hungry, but also benefit from the one hour of physical activity provided.

Thank You Justice Clothing Store


On Friday, May 20, Justice Clothing Store generously donated boxes of children's clothing and accessories.  The donations were distributed to needy kids and families at the Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA.  Thank you for your kind donation, Justice Clothing Store!

YMCA of Central Ohio is a Kiwanis Club Centennial Grant Recipient

Kiwanis Club of Columbus Celebrates Centennial with YMCA of Central Ohio

Celebrating their historic centennial milestone at the Ohio Statehouse, the Kiwanis Club of Columbus applauded the work of four local non-profits, all of which are committed to serving central Ohio youth.  With an unprecedented investment of $100,000 beyond their annual contributions to our community, the YMCA of Central Ohio, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, Boys & Girls Clubs and the Columbus Children’s Choir each received grants to fulfill critical projects at their respective agencies.  Representing the YMCA of Central Ohio at the event, president and CEO Stephen Ives stated, “We are extremely privileged to be recognized by an organization like Kiwanis that intentionally focuses on youth serving organizations. We look forward to the opportunities we have in partnering with the agencies honored this evening and continuing to expand our collective impact on central Ohio youth.”

The YMCA of Central Ohio received a $30,000 grant from Kiwanis for critical updates at Hoover YMCA Park, one of the Association’s premier Day Camp locations.  This grant will allow the Y to have a greater impact on youth through expansion of its performance space for teens and renovation of the Park’s Adventure Area and Challenge Courses. An estimated 2,000 children will visit Hoover YMCA Park this summer. Through this investment, youth and teens will have unique opportunities to grow in teambuilding, trust and self-confidence.

On behalf of the YMCA of Central Ohio and all those who will enjoy their summer at Hoover YMCA Park, we are extremely grateful to the Kiwanis Club of Columbus for their generous support.  The newly renovated Adventure Areas will be named in Kiwanis’ honor.

Pictured from left to right:

Mark Swepston, President, Columbus Kiwanis Foundation, Stephen Ives, President & CEO, YMCA of Central Ohio, Pamela Biesecker, Sr. Vice President, Nationwide Insurance and Second Vice Chair YMCA of Central Ohio Metropolitan General Board, Jeff Rayis, President, Kiwanis Club of Columbus

The Y Celebrates 172 Years of Making A Difference

Five Historical Reasons the Y Makes For a Better Us™

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, healthy living and social responsibility. Here are five past 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 and countless numbers of boys and girls have since 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 would eventually 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 even credited with inventing the term “body building.”

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 2016

Today, the Y serves more than 22 million people annually and offers resources at over 2,700 locations across all 50 states. Here are three ways “community” continues as the Y’s number one 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 over nine 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 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 can effectively reach millions of people. Ys are also active in the community, creating communal gardens, increasing access to farmers markets and ensuring children have a safe route to school.

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 organizing volunteers when disaster strikes to member-led community service projects through the Togetherhood program, every effort helps to make a difference.

For more information on Y programs please visit: ymca.net/forabetterus 

Memorial Day Hours

Check out which branches will be open on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30.

Branches Open

Delaware Community Center YMCA: 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Jerry L Garver YMCA: Noon-6:00 p.m.

Grove City YMCA: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA: Noon-6:00 p.m.

LIberty Township/ Powell YMCA: Noon-6:00 p.m.

Branches Closed 

Downtown YMCA

Hilltop YMCA

North YMCA

Pickaway County Family YMCA

Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA

Eldon & Elsie Ward Family YMCA

The Y at Clark Hall

YMCA of Central Ohio named “Best Gym” By 614 Magazine

The 2016 Best of Columbus awards were annouced by 614 Magazine and the YMCA of Central Ohio was once again named as Best Gym in the Columbus area with almost 2,000 votes!


Thank you to everyone who voted! We are proud to serve the Columbus area. We hope you will celebrate with us at the ColumBEST party on May 25.


More information here: http://614columbus.com/2016/05/best-fitness-centergym/

YMCA of Central Ohio wins United Way Agency Award of Excellence

On Thursday, May 9, 2016, the YMCA of Central Ohio was recognized with the United Way of Central Ohio Agency Award of Excellence at the annual Celebration of Excellence awards, held at the Ohio Union at The Ohio State University.

This award, given to one non-profit each year, is the most distinguished agency award, recognizing overall campaign achievement. The YMCA of Central Ohio's fundraising campaign for United Way was up 40% in employee participation over last year, with an additional 23% increase in giving. 

To read more, click here: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/05/05/United-Way-shifting-focus.html

New Program brings Medical Care to those in shelters

More than 6,000 people served in local hospital ERs in a year were homeless. A new pilot program has brought medical respite beds to Van Buren Center. People who are homeless and suffering from serious illness can receive medical care while in shelter. This is a partnership between PrimaryOne Health, YMCA of Central Ohio and Community Shelter Board.




Kiwanis Club of Columbus announces YMCA of Central Ohio as grant recipient

Kiwanis Club of Columbus Celebrates Centennial

with $100,000 Community Investment

Columbus, OH - -Four local agencies will benefit from the investment of a local service organization this year. The Kiwanis Club of Columbus has chosen four organizations, Boys & Girls Club of Columbus, Columbus Children’s Choir, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, and the YMCA of Central Ohio, to receive grants totaling $100,000.  The group marks its 100th Anniversary in 2016 and chose to celebrate by investing in the community’s future.

“Kiwanis Club of Columbus is all about giving back and working to change our community for the better,” said Centennial Celebration chairperson and club Past-President Kathleen Roberts.  “Every year our club invests over $80,000 in the community but this year we wanted to make an even bigger impact by sharing an additional $100,000.  We couldn’t be more thrilled about the projects we are supporting.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus was the recipient of a $30,000 grant. BGCC’s mission is to empower the youth who need its services and programs most to fulfill their potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens.  The grant supports the Growth for Great Futures Initiative, a strategy that will put the Clubs on track to serve 10,000 of Columbus’ most at-risk youth by 2020.  Funding from the Kiwanis Clubs of Columbus’ Centennial Grant will be used to underwrite costs associated with relocation of the Westside Club to the Hilltop neighborhood.  A library in the new center will be named in Kiwanis’ honor.
The Columbus Children’s Choir received a $20,000 grant to establish the CCC Summer Singers sponsored by Kiwanis Club of Columbus. Columbus Children’s Choir serves central Ohio with educational offerings including workshops, festivals, community engagement programs, and its longstanding programs for children in kindergarten through twelfth grade—all with the mission of fostering the personal growth of children through meaningful experiences in music education and vocal performance. With the support of Kiwanis Club of Columbus’ Centennial Award, Columbus Children’s Choir will offer summer music classes for the first time.
Kaleidoscope Youth Center will use its $20,000 Centennial grant to support new programming in their new location. Kaleidoscope Youth Center has been serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Ally youth in Central Ohio since 1994.  Young people ages 12-20 are able to access peer support, mentorship, hot meals, recreation, leadership opportunities, health and wellness education, life-skills development and arts programming five days per week in a space that is fun, safe and affirming of their identities.   The grant supports the Operation: Home Is Where the Heart Is campaign to help underwrite Kaleidoscope’s first move in over ten years. The new space at 603 East Town Street will accommodate current programming with room for growth, and is twice the square footage as before.  A community conference room in the new center will bear the Kiwanis Club of Columbus name.
The YMCA of Central Ohio is the largest provider of day camp in the Columbus area and will use its $30,000 Centennial grant to upgrade its lodge and renovate its high and low ropes courses. Located at the Hoover YMCA Park, the lodge is a 2,500-square-foot building which is only able to be used for six months of the year because of the lack of heating and air conditioning.  This grant will add heating and cooling equipment to this structure to allow the Y to have a greater impact on the youth in the community by extending the use of this performance space for teen bands and youth theatre. In addition, on rainy days at camp, the children will have a safe haven from the elements. The Adventure Area will be renovated in order to continue to draw people to the Park for team-building and teen camp. This grant will be used for capital improvements that will serve more than 2,000 children each year at Hoover. The Y will recognize the adventure area as the Hoover Y - Kiwanis Club of Columbus Adventure Area.

Kiwanis Club of Columbus is a 150-member service organization dedicated to changing the world, one community and one child at a time.  Kiwanis International was founded in 1915 and Kiwanis Club of Columbus, the fifth oldest club in the world, was founded in 1916.  The club and its foundation, Columbus Kiwanis Foundation, have been supporting worthy causes focusing on youth in the Columbus community throughout its history.  In fact, Kiwanis Club of Columbus is credited with helping to found two well-known organizations in its early years: the Ohio Highway Patrol and the American BoyChoir (which began in Columbus and moved to Princeton, NJ). 

Currently, through its foundation, Kiwanis Club of Columbus awards approximately $80,000 a year, including $20,000 in scholarships to deserving Columbus City Schools students, provides significant sponsorship funding for the Columbus Metropolitan Library Summer Reading Program, and supports many other organizations with volunteer and grant support.


May is Water Safety Month



May is Water Safety Month and as the nation’s largest operator of swimming pools, the Y gives more than 1 million children a year the skills they need to be safe in and around water.

Drowning is a serious threat to the health and well-being of people across the U.S., particularly children and minorities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 4 to 14, and the rate of drowning for African-American children is nearly three times the rate for white children.

Teaching a child how to swim and be safe around water is one of the most important life skills children can learn.  Swim Lessons at the Y are designed to teach personal water safety, stroke development, water sports and games, rescue and personal growth skills to children. 

Now is the time to make sure children are prepared to be safe around the water. Speak with our staff about helping children develop this important life skill. In addition, caregivers can ensure everyone stays safe around the water with these tips:
Never leave children unattended, and stay vigilant when around any body of water.
Designate a “Water Watcher” to supervise children around water. This person should not read, use a cellphone or be otherwise distracted.
Inexperienced and non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket around water.
Children should stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
Children and adults should not engage in breath-holding activities.

Kroger Community Rewards

It’s time to re-enroll for the new year of Kroger Community Rewards. Participants need to re-enroll in the month of April in order to continue contributing to the organization through the May 1st 2016 to April 30th 2017 year.

For a participant to re-enroll their card they simply go to www.krogercommunityrewards.com
·         Click “sign-in”
·         Put in your email address and password that you used to enroll their card.
·         Click on your name at the top right, scroll to the bottom for Community Rewards.
·         Put in the group number or part of the name of the organization.
·         Choose the correct organization.
·         Click Enroll.
You are now enrolled for the May 1st 2016 to April 30th 2017 year of Kroger Community Rewards.

If you are having an issue with your password and or email address please 1-800-KROGERS, press 5 for customer service, press 5 to speak to a customer service representative.

If it’s the first time you are registering, you will need to set up your account first.
·         For a member to enroll their card the simply go to http://www.krogercommunityrewards.com
·         Click “create an account”
·         Put in your email address and password.  Confirm your password
·         Enter plus card OR alt ID number
·         Go to Community Rewards (near bottom)
·         Follow through the steps. (Name, address, etc.)
·         Put in the group number or part of the name of the organization.
·         Choose the correct organization.
·         Click Enroll.
You are now enrolled for the May 1st 2016 to April 30th 2017 year of Kroger Community Reward

Board Member Hal Keller To Receive Homeport ‘Voice and Vision’ Award

Hal Keller To Receive Homeport ‘Voice & Vision’ Award


Columbus, OH -- Citing his 35-year commitment to the practical needs of families and seniors, Homeport will be honoring Hall of Fame affordable housing advocate and non-profit financier Hal Keller at its second annual “Voice & Vision” program on Oct. 13.

“The Homeport ‘Voice & Vision’ Award that Hal will be receiving honors individuals who have provided extraordinary commitment and dedication to the cause of affordable housing,” said Homeport Board of Directors Chair Chris Hune.

“Hal has made it his focus for more than 30 years to support not only Homeport’s mission, but other housing organizations and we are proud to recognize the impact he has made in Central Ohio as well as around the region,” Hune added.

Keller has been president of Columbus-based Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing since 1993.


An independent non-profit organization, OCCH has raised more than $3.5 billion for Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects involving more than 725 transactions and 40,000 homes in Ohio and Kentucky.


Keller has been with OCCH since its inception in 1989, serving first as Director of Development.


Under Keller’s leadership, OCCH has also developed affiliated property management and supportive services organizations, Community Properties of Ohio Management Services (CPO), a lending subsidiary, Ohio Capital Finance Corporation, a certified Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI), and philanthropic arm, Ohio Capital Impact Corporation (OCIC).


In 2014, Keller was inducted into the national Affordable Housing Finance’s Housing Hall of Fame.


Bruce Luecke, Homeport’s Interim President & CEO, called Keller “unmatched” in raising awareness to the needs of low to moderate income people -- and in effectively tackling the financial side of making a difference.

“We look forward to recognizing and celebrating Hal’s achievements,” Luecke said.


Keller said he treasures the honor and the work Homeport has been able to accomplish in its 29-year existence.

“I am humbled that Homeport has chosen me to receive this year’s Voice & Vision Award. Homeport is a critical organization with a long history of community impact and service,” Keller said. “I am truly honored.”


Keller serves on the boards of a variety of organizations including the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, YMCA of Central Ohio, Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio Housing Council, Habitat for Humanity of Ohio and PACT (Partners Achieving Community Transformation). He also serves on the boards of several national affordable housing trade associations.

He holds Master of Arts degrees in both Public Administration and Social Work from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Social Science from Case Western Reserve University.

Keller will receive Homeport’s Voice & Vision award at the fall program to be held at St. Charles Preparatory School’s Walter Commons, 2010 E. Broad Street in Columbus.

Sponsorship opportunities for the Voice & Vision Award Celebration are available by contacting Homeport’s Director of Philanthropy, Julie Naporano, at Julie.Naporano@homeportohio.org or visiting homeportohio.org/sponsor.

Doing Good With Technology: HMB and ECRN+

HMB recently had the opportunity to partner with the YMCA's Early Childhood Resource Network (ECRN+) by donating a fleet of laptops to their organization.

"The team at ECRN+ is extremely grateful for the generous laptop donation from HMB," says Samantha Stewart, Executive Director for ECRN+. "This donation will enable our staff to continue to provide exemplary services to children with disabilities and their families. For over 30 years, ECRN+ has provided services to children who have disabilities or those who are at risk of disabilities and their families."

"Staff members from three different programs will be utilizing the computers; our Community Support Site program (a speech therapy program for children 18 months to three years of age), our Family Support Program (provides family support to children, teens, and young adults with disabilities and their families), and our Help Me Grow program (a birth to three home visitation program for children with delays, disabilities, and special health care needs)." 

ECRN+ provides Service Coordination for Help Me Grow of Franklin County, Columbus Kids Outreach, SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) as well as Family Support for families and children of all ages who have disabilities and a speech therapy program for children.

"ECRN+ was founded in 1983 as a coalition of thirty agencies/organizations and parent representatives who were involved in providing services for young children, birth through five, who had developmental delays, disabilities, or who were at risk for such," continues Stewart. "Now, 30 years later, the primary goal is the same; we empower and connect families. Thank you HMB for helping us empower and connect our families!"

Healthy Kids Day April 30th

On Saturday, April 30, the YMCA of Central Ohio is celebrating YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day®, the Y’s national initiative to improve the health and well-being of families. Healthy Kids Day will include fun active play and educational activities to keep kids moving and learning, in order to maintain healthy habits and academic skills to achieve goals and reach their full potential. Millions of children and their families are expected to participate in Healthy Kids at nearly 1,600 events across the country.

Join us April 30 at your local branch for fun activities for the kids and family!

PLUS Pay $0 Join Fee if you join in-branch... this weekend only!

Click to jump to your branch's activities:

Delaware Community Center YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 8:30a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Activities: 8:30-11:30 a.m.

  • Martial Arts Demonstration
  • Family Zumba
  • Bounce House
  • Bike Rodeo
  • Swim Evaluations
  • Touch a Truck
  • Blood Drive
  • Free bike helmets
  • Fitness Checks
  • 5k/Mile Run/Walk
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    -Fire Department
    -Police Department
    -DATA Bus
    -Delaware County of Developmental Disabilities
    -Ohio Healthy
    -Advanced Eye Care
    -Ruffing Martial Arts
    -Dr. Batterton Dentistry
    -Preservation Parks
    -Ohio Corps of Engineers

Activities: 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

  • Dental Wellness Checks
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Face Painting
  • Flower Planting
  • Swim Evaluations

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Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Activities: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Mascots
  • Lego Table
  • Obstacle Course
  • Bounce House
  • Camp Willson: Live animals
  • Family Zumba
  • Kid’s Run
  • Gaga Pit
  • Face Painting
  • Rock Climbing
  • Urban Grow for Kids Project
  • Clark Hall: Prenatal Mommy and Me Yoga
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    - Gahanna Fire and Police Department
    - Smoothie King
    - 104.9 the River Radio
    - Nothing Bundt Cakes
    - Lynd’s Fruit Farm
    - DoTerra Essential Oils
    - Discovery Toys
    -Young Chef Academy
    -Cookie Cutters

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Grove City YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Activities: 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

  • Obstacle Course
  • Camp Willson Horses
  • Climbing Wall
  • Swim Evaluations
  • Grove City Library
  • Vendors
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    -Grove City Library
    -Dental Place
    -Columbus Blue Jackets

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Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Activities: 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Hilliard Bradley Boys Soccer Team
  • Family Gym Fun
  • Boat Safety
  • Track and Field
  • Fitness Obstacles
  • Sensory Table
  • Healthy Eating Booth
  • Face Paint
  • Games

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Hilltop YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Activities: 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Bike Safety
  • Bike helmet giveaway
  • Vendors
    -OSU Extension

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Jerry L. Garver YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 2:00-5:00 p.m.

Activities: 2:00-5:00 p.m.

  • Book WALK! (like a cake walk)
  • Challenge Stations
  • Hula Hoop Shake Off
  • Swim Evaluations
  • Egg Race
  • STEM Spaghetti Towers
  • Egg Drop
  • Y Kids are Fit Obstacle Course
  • Face Painting / Clown
  • Inflatables:
    -Small Bounce House
    -BIG Basketball
    -Big Bowling
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt
  • Sensory Friendly Nature Hunt
  • Animal Tracking
  • Community Cook Out Sponsored by Cameron Mitchell's The Barn & Krogers
  • Bob's Bike Safety
  • Flower Planting
  • Music Makers: Making maracas & drums
  • Reptile: Touch & learn
  • Painting with Veggies!
  • Box Arcade!
  • Raffle Baskets & Kid Swag give a ways
  • Local Businesses and vendors:
    -Cameron Mitchell's The Barn
    -Kroger's Corp. & Canal Winchester
    -Local Matters
    -Wayne Webb Bowling
    -Franklin County Children Services
    -Columbus Fire Department
    -Once Upon A Child
    -Columbus Health Department
    -Bari Foundation
    -Diley Ridge Medical Center
    -Tyler's Light
    -Pickerington Library
    -Small Smiles Dental
    -Tropical Fruit & Nut
    -Dill's GreenHouse
    -The Wave
    -Zion Assembly
    -Colony Cats
    -Lion's Club Eye Screening
    -Captive Born Reptiles

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Liberty Twp./Powell YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Activities: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Camp Willson (pony rides)
  • Preservation Parks of Delaware County bring live animals (reptiles and amphibians)
  • Blue Jackets Street Hockey
  • Zumba, PLYOGA, Circuit Training, Yoga
  • Olentangy Liberty Cheerleading Team
  • Facepaint
  • Treehive Cafe
  • Kiwanis Club of Powell (seat safety checks)
  • OPAL Art Sigmound
  • Lightsaber Relay Races
  • Lakeshore (craft table)
  • Fun Games

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North YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Activities: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Bounce house
  • Health screenings
  • Field games
  • Touch a truck
  • YMCA Camp Willson
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    - All Nations Seventh Day Adventist Church
    - REI
    - Fresh n' Fit Foodlab

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Pickaway County Family YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Activities: 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Flower Planting
  • Face Painting
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    - Circleville City Police
    - Ohio State Highway Patrol
    - Pickaway Co. Sheriff's office
    - Circleville Fire Dept.
    - Columbus Blue Jackets

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Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Activities: 12:00-4:00 p.m.

  • Bounce House
  • Crafts
  • Snacks
  • Swim Evaluations
  • Willson Horses
  • Fire & Police Vehicles/Visits
  • Kids' Zumba
  • Kids' Martial Art
  • Community Vendors
  • Games

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Eldon & Elsie Ward Family YMCA

FREE Swim Evaluations: 1:00-2:20 p.m.

Activities: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

  • Family Fitness Feud
  • 3 on 3 Basketball
  • Bouncy House
  • T-Ball
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Face Paint
  • Fitness Demos
  • Dodgeball
  • Obstacles
  • Snacks
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    - Fire Department
    - Local Maters
    - Columbus Library MLK Branch
    - Natural Care Youth Center
    - Paramount Health Care
    - OSU Med Students
    - Local Matters
    - Central Community House

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New Medicare Proposal Announced To Aid The Fight Against Diabetes

The Obama administration announced today in a special press conference in Washington, D.C., a plan to expand Medicare to cover programs that prevent diabetes among people at high risk for developing the disease, which includes the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. 

The Diabetes Prevention Program provides a supportive environment where participants can work with others in a small group setting to learn how to adopt healthy habits to reduce their chances of developing the disease. In this evidence based, 12 week program, participants learn about healthy eating and increasing their physical activity, with the goal of reducing their body weight by 7% and increasing their physical activity to 150 minutes per week.

“It will truly change your life,” said Tim Gusler, a YMCA of Central Ohio Diabetes Prevention Program participant. “I lost about 75 pounds. It will make you healthier. I feel better; I have energy!”

Watch more of Tim's story here.

Under the proposed plan, Medicare would cover a participant's fee for participating in the program.  The Diabetes Prevention Program is offered at all YMCA of Central Ohio Branches and begins with 16 weekly sessions followed by monthly sessions led by a trained Lifestyle Coach.

The proposal will go through a public commitment period, but it will most likely be in effect before the end of President Obama’s term. This proposal is an extension of the Affordable Care Act. Details of how the diabetes prevention services will be paid for have not yet been released, however it could come through reimbursements to providers, or as a part of a package, including the services of doctors who diagnose and monitor diabetes patients. The exact details will be released by Medicare officials.

To learn more about the proposal, visit http://nyti.ms/21HkVF2

To learn more about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, visit http://www.ymcacolumbus.org/diabetes


Diabetes Alert Day

Reduce Risk of Diabetes on Diabetes Alert Day

Tuesday, March 22, is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, and the YMCA of Central Ohio wants residents of Columbus to know their risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, as well as preventive steps they can take today to reduce the chances of developing the disease.

The Y knows that the best way to reduce new cases of type 2 diabetes is to prevent them and awareness is the first step to prevention. With only 10 percent of the 86 million Americans aware of their condition, the YMCA of Central Ohio understands that it will take everyone working together to increase this number.

In the United States alone, diabetes affects nearly 29 million people. Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes, yet only about 9 million are aware of it. These statistics are alarming, and the impact on the cost of health care and overall well-being of our communities makes preventing the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes more important than ever before.

The YMCA of Central Ohio’s Diabetes Prevention Program is helping people make healthier choices that can help reduce the risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. The program provides a supportive environment where participants work with each other in a small group setting to learn how to adopt healthy habits to reduce chances of developing diabetes. Participants learn about healthy eating and increasing their physical activity, with the goal of reducing their body weight by 7% and increasing their physical activity to 150 minutes per week.

Some basic lifestyle changes that contribute to weight loss and an increased focus on healthy living can decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes. Among these are:

• Reduce portion sizes of the foods you eat that may be high in fat or calories.
• Keep a food diary to increase awareness of eating patterns and behaviors.
• Be active at least 30 minutes per day five days a week.
• Incorporate more activity into your daily routine; take the stairs or park farther away
• Choose water to drink instead of beverages with added sugar.
To learn more about the YMCA of Central Ohio’s Diabetes Prevention Program, please visithttp://www.ymcacolumbus.org/diabetes.

OhioHealth Delay the Disease Parkinson’s Exercise Program

Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year and as many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

As a leading community-based network committed to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Central Ohio has partnered with OhioHealth to bring OhioHealth Delay the Disease, the number one Parkinson’s exercise program, to three branch locations.

This evidence-based fitness program, led by a certified OhioHealth Delay the Disease instructor, is designed to empower people with Parkinson’s disease.  The class optimizes physical function while utilizing humor, optimism, enthusiasm and hope to help motivate participants.

After participating in the program, participants will have increased self-confidence, decreased risk of falls and minimized fatigue.  The goal of the program is to give participants a happier lifestyle with reduced rigidity and improved mobility.

Beginning Monday, March 14, the program will be offered at The Y at Clark Hall, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. and the Delaware Community Center YMCA, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 1:00-2:00 p.m.  Beginning Monday, May 31, the program will also be offered at the Grove City YMCA, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 1:00-2:00 p.m.

The program will be offered as a nine week session with a cost of $90 for members and $135 for non-members.  For more information, contact the branch representative at your preferred location. 

For The Y at Clark Hall contact Valerie Baumann at 614-416-9622 or vbaumann@ymcacolumbus.org

For the Delaware Community Center YMCA, contact Amy Mosser at 740-203-3051 or amosser@ymcacolumbus.org.

For the Grove City YMCA, contact Angie Jordan at 614-871-9622 or ajordan@ymcacolumbus.org.

Free Guests for Members in March

Members-only: FREE Guests ANY Weekend in March!
YMCA members may use one guest pass for FREE any Saturday or Sunday in March.

All guests must comply with YMCA of Central Ohio Guest Conditions.

Eligible Memberships
» Two Adults + Kids
» One Adult + Kids
» Two Adults
» Adult
» Young Adult

1 Free Guest Pass per visit
Family: up to 5 people, 2 adults max
Senior: age 62+
Adult: ages 18-61
Youth: age 17 and younger


$25 in Y Bucks when your guest joins (for your guest, too!)

Y Bucks* will be added to both the new and current member's account electronically and may be used toward:
» Personal Training
» Water Exercise Class
» Swim Lessons
» Special Events
» Art and Dance Classes
» Skill Builders Class
» Youth Sports League
» Join Fee

March is National Nutrition Month

Focus on Healthy Eating During National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition month and as a leading community-based network committed to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Central Ohio urges everyone in Columbus to dedicate to a healthy lifestyle by being health conscious this month and every month.

According to the National Academy of Nutrition and Diuretics, National Nutrition Month is a nutrition and education plan focused on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.  Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents the past 30 years.  The need to become educated about healthy food choices is at an all-time high.

To address the prevalence of childhood obesity, the Y has made a commitment to helping children and their parents develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle through different programs like Strong-Well-Fit and Healthy Weight and Your Child.  Because healthy lifestyles are achieved through nurturing mind, body and spirit, fitness at the YMCA includes more than just working out.

Strong-Well-Fit is a free, twelve week program that helps youth and teens and their parents make lifestyle changes to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.  Families will learn about nutrition and healthy food choices, exercise and play active games, and achieve goals of a healthier lifestyle.  Each class will include forty-five minutes of physical activity for both children and parents, and forty five minutes working on healthy nutrition and activities.

Healthy Weight and Your Child addresses childhood obesity in youth ages 7-13 with a body mass index of 95th percentiles or higher.  This 12 month evidence based program is for children with obesity and their parents to empower families to live healthier.  Family members are engaged in education, healthy eating and physical activity to elicit change positive change and help families learn skills to live a healthier lifestyle long-term.

The YMCA of Central Ohio offers a community of diverse individuals who can support all people in meeting their health and well-being goals.  Learn more by visiting http://www.ymcacolumbus.org/ or stopping into your local Y. 

February is American Heart Month

Lower the (Blood) Pressure during American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month and as a leading community-based network committed to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Central Ohio urges everyone in Columbus to help prevent heart disease by lowering your blood pressure. Two ways to keep the pressure off your heart are by monitoring your blood pressure and reducing sodium intake.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths each year in the United States. Additionally, 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure with less than half having it under control. High blood pressure is most prevalent in minority communities, and is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” because there are typically no warning signs or symptoms.

To address the prevalence of heart disease, the Y has made a national commitment to the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes.  As part of this commitment, the YMCA of Central Ohio encourages heart health through the Diabetes Prevention Program. 

The YMCA of Central Ohio is increasing the availability of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program – which is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program.  The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps adults at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles to help reduce their chances of developing the disease. Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or suffer a stroke as those who do not have it.

The program provides a supportive environment where participants work together in a small group to learn about eating healthier, increasing their physical activity and making other behavior changes with the goal of reducing body weight by 7 percent in order to reduce their risk for developing diabetes. A trained lifestyle coach leads the program over a 12-month period beginning with 16 weekly sessions followed by monthly maintenance sessions.  Increased physical activity and moderate weight loss not only reduce diabetes risk, but also have an impact on lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

Besides monitoring your blood pressure, reducing sodium intake is a great way to keep your heart healthy. According to the American Heart Association, too much sodium in your system puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. Everyone, including kids, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure.

“Having a handle on your blood pressure is an effective tool in the prevention of heart disease,” said Caroline Rankin, director of chronic disease and prevention programs. “Whether you have high blood pressure or are at risk for heart disease, the Y has many options available that can help.”

The YMCA of Central Ohio offers a community of diverse individuals who can support all people in meeting their health and well-being goals.   

Gahanna Welcomes New Multi-Purpose Boutique Studio


Gahanna Welcomes New Multi-Purpose Boutique Studio

The YMCA of Central Ohio, in partnership with Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools and Franklin University opens new, innovative facility for the community.

WHO: Representatives from the Gahanna Jefferson School District, the Gahanna Chamber of Commerce, Franklin University’s President, David Decker and Mayor Thomas Kneeland, YMCA of Central Ohio’s President and CEO, Stephen Ives

WHAT: The YMCA of Central Ohio is pleased to announce the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of its first boutique-style studio - the Y at Clark Hall. The new facility will provide unique experiences for the Gahanna community including:

  • Small group fitness
  • Educational-based wellness programming for youth, teens and adults
  • Youth and teen STEM and technology programs
  • Adult education courses provided by Franklin University
  • Franklin University reunites with the YMCA who helped launch the
  • University in 1902

WHEN: Saturday, January 9, 2016

9:30 a.m.- Ribbon Cutting followed by a community open house from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

WHERE: The Y at Clark Hall

380 Granville Street, Suite B

Gahanna, OH 43230

WHY: Through a unique collaboration, innovative offerings and unparalleled services, the Y at Clark Hall will provide an array of opportunities for all ages, all under the same roof.

CONTACT: Valerie Baumann: (cell) 614-532-0998 or vbaumann@ymcacolumbus.org

More Information (PDF)

Media Alert

Construction Underway on Unique Early Childhood Education Center

Construction Underway on Unique Early Childhood Education Center

Community partners, KIPP and YMCA of Central Ohio unite to open new Early Learning Center at Agler Road campus

[COLUMBUS, JANUARY 6, 2016] KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Columbus and the YMCA of Central Ohio announces the opening of the KIPP/YMCA Early Learning Center. The new center for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years will open by September, 2016 on the KIPP campus in Northeast Columbus.

KIPP is a national network of free, open enrollment college preparatory public schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and life. KIPP Columbus debuted its new campus in 2014 with a facility, currently serving 800 students. This will increase that to 2000 by the end of the decade with the addition of several new buildings, including a high school and the Early Learning Center.

“We are committed to helping our students climb the mountain to and through college,” said KIPP Columbus Executive Director Hannah Powell. “Research has shown that the early childhood years are absolutely critical in laying the foundation for success, and we believe that we are in a unique position to provide an enriching environment and high-quality preK opportunities for our community. To be able to partner with an organization like the YMCA which shares similar missions and goals, will be incredibly transformational.”

The YMCA is the area’s largest provider of child care and early learning programs, serving over 4,500 chidren annually at 70 centers in central Ohio. “One of five major pillars of Y work, childhood development and educational achievement is a critical program and a growing program at the YMCA, says President/CEO Stephen Ives. At the Y, strengthening community is our cause. We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors.”

The new school will offer numerous advantages to its students, including spacious classrooms with natural light, access to innovative technology, natural play spaces, and robust programming with best-inclass educators. The center will be open to KIPP families and the public, with a lottery for admission scheduled for February 2016. When fully enrolled at 140 children, the KIPP/YMCA Early Learning Center will be the YMCA’s largest early learning program.

For more information on enrolling in the school, please visit the KIPP website at http://kippcolumbus.org/ or call the administrative offive at 614-263-6137.

More Information (PDF)

Press Release

Request for Proposals To Provide Monitoring Services

The YMCA is soliciting proposals to provide monitoring of service providers that used federal grant funds including Head Start Act funds. The objective of the monitoring is to assess the degree that subcontracted programs comply with applicable laws, regulations, policies and administrative requirements of the funding source. The goal is to ensure the lawful use of public funds and the integrity of the programs of YMCA.

This solicitation is to result in a contract for the monitoring services with YMCA options for two separate one year renewals.


More Information (PDF)

Request for Proposals To Provide Monitoring Services

Prepare for Back-to-School Season: Power Up with Restful Sleep

The back-to-school season can be a busy time of year as we adjust to new routines and make time for homework, afterschool activities and new friends. As you and your family rearrange your schedules to squeeze it all in, don’t forget to make time for a basic but critical component of good health — sleep!

Restful sleep is proven to have important short- and long-term health benefits for children and adults. It plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy metabolism and immune system, improving memory and the ability to learn, and more. Getting enough restful sleep can enrich your family’s quality of life and overall well-being. With these helpful tips for kids and adults, your family will be getting plenty of rest in no time.

Bedtime Means Lights Out: Stick to a consistent bedtime and avoid allowing kids to watch TV or read until they fall asleep.
Establish a Routine: Adopt a relaxing routine to help children wind down before bed. It might include getting a drink of water, putting on pajamas, brushing their teeth and reading a story with a parent.
Mind the Over-Scheduling: Remember that if kids don’t get the rest they need one night because of a busy schedule, they can “catch up” by getting extra rest later on.

Watch When You Eat: Prepare your body and mind for better sleep by eating dinner at least two hours before bedtime and avoiding overeating.
Don’t Clock-Watch: Avoid watching the clock if you’re unable to fall asleep. Instead, get out of bed and divert your attention until you feel drowsy. Try reading a book or listening to music.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment: Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, cool and comfortable, and limit the times that you allow kids or pets to sleep with you.

Incoming President and CEO Stephen Ives Speaks During Community Impact Breakfast

On Wednesday, June 24, the YMCA of Central Ohio celebrated our community partnerships during the Community Impact Breakfast at the Columbus Foundation. About 80 individuals, including YMCA of Central Ohio board members, representatives from partner organizations, YMCA donors, staff and supporters, gathered to share stories of members impacted by the Y movement.

Incoming YMCA of Central Ohio President and CEO Stephen Ives attended and provided remarks at the event. A native of Maine, Stephen comes to Central Ohio with 27 years of service to the YMCA movement, including 20 years as a CEO. He most recently served as President and CEO of the Merrimack Valley YMCA in Lawrence, MA. At the event, Ives spoke about his personal experiences with the YMCA and shared his love for working with children and teens.

Ives started his career in aquatics and youth programming at the Portland, Maine YMCA. He developed programs for teen fathers and at risk youth in the inner city while leading camping and youth recreation initiatives before relocating to the Northern York County Family YMCA in Biddeford, Maine.

"I am both impressed and inspired by the depth of social impact work being done by the YMCA of Central Ohio in the form of subsidized housing, early childhood education, truancy initiatives and support for children with special needs," stated Ives. "It is a sincere honor to have the opportunity to build upon that rich history of service to the community and in partnership with the Board of Directors, making sure that the YMCA is so much more for the citizens of Central Ohio.”

Ives will officially assume his role with the YMCA of Central July 6, 2015. Click here to view photographs from the Community Impact Breakfast.

New Program: Healthy Weight and Your Child

Reclaim your family’s health through healthier eating habits and an active lifestyle through Healthy Weight and Your Child. The YMCA of Central Ohio is one of five Ys participating nationally in a pilot program to address childhood obesity in youth ages 7-13, with a body mass index of 95th percentiles or higher. A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness. The program is for the children and their families and will be offered at the following YMCA of Central Ohio locations: 

  • Delaware Community Center YMCA
  • Eldon & Elsie Ward Family YMCA
  • Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA
  • Grove City YMCA
  • Liberty Township/Powell YMCA

Important Program Details and Qualifications:

  • A 12 month evidenced-based program for children with obesity and their parent/caregiver.
  • 16 weekly sessions, 4 bi-weekly sessions and 5 monthly sessions.
  • 2 hour sessions one time per week focusing on nutrition education and physical activity to encourage healthier eating habits and an active lifestyle.
  • Children must be 7 - 13 years old and have a body mass index of the 95th percentile or higher.
  • Children must qualify for the program and receive medical clearance from their healthcare provider.
  • The parent/caregiver must attend all sessions.
  • No cost for participation in the one year pilot program.
  • Classes starting in September 2015.

For more information about the program and contact/location details, please review the attached brochure. 

More Information (PDF)

Healthy Weight and Your Child Brochure

60 minutes of exercise a day = Active, Healthy Family

More than 80 percent of children in the U.S. do not get the recommended amount of physical activity for good health—60 minutes a day, six days a week. It is important for children and families to make good use of extra free time during the summer by increasing the frequency and duration of physical activity and limiting screen time. 

At the Y, we support the health and well-being of people of all ages and backgrounds with programs and services that help them develop healthy lifestyles. Speak with your YMCA staff about how the Y can help you
and your family stay physically active all summer long. Also, consider other ways you can get up and get moving together. Here are a few ideas:

Have a Ball:
Tossing a football or hitting the tennis courts is a great way to engage kids in physical activity while squeezing in some family time. Or try going out to the backyard or a park with your kids and keeping a beach ball up in the air for as long as possible. Even throwing a baseball back and forth will send you jogging to recover the ball from time to time.

Add Some Wheels:
Most activities that incorporate the use of wheels—like riding scooters or skateboarding—offer a mix of vigorous activity and periods of rest. Get your helmets on and take a bike ride as a family. Plot your course so you have to tackle small hills or ride into the wind part of the way.

Walk, Jog or Run:
Find a community event such as a fundraising walk or fun run that the entire family can enjoy. Setting a family goal tied to such an event can provide the motivation you need to stay active. Also, July is Parks and Recreation Month, so it is a perfect time to visit a nearby park and take advantage of walking or biking trails.

Summer Food Program Helps Kids Hop the Gap

At the Y, we believe all children and teens deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. Yet for some youth, hunger is a barrier to success. Today in the U.S., nearly one in five households with children does not have enough food. During the summer, access to healthy meals can be an even greater challenge for kids who receive free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. As a leading nonprofit for strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y provides kids with the fuel to reach their full potential.

Through the Summer Food Program—incorporated into other programs like camp—the Y delivers healthy meals and snacks to nourish the minds and bodies of kids in need.

Since 2011, the Walmart Foundation has partnered with the Y in the fight to end child hunger. The foundation’s generous support during the past four years has helped the Y serve more than 34 million meals to youth in afterschool and summer programs. The reach of this work grows each year, and this summer alone the Y aims to provide 4.25 million meals to 180,000 kids at 1,100 sites. Locally in Central Ohio, we continue to expand our reach and provide meals and snacks to children:

Summer 2014
Sites - 8 
Kids Served – 1,608
Meals - 31,050 (Breakfast and Lunch)
Snacks – 6,892

School Year 2015
Sites - 26
Kids Served - 756
Meals - 64,026 (Supper)
Snacks - 22,747

The Y provides support and programs that help youth overcome challenges related to hunger, health, learning, water safety and access to safe spaces. To learn how children and teens overcome barriers—or hop the gap—to achieve more with the Y, visit hopthegap.org. Click here to view our Summer Food Program sites throughout Central Ohio. 

Bottled Water Needed

The YMCA of Central is working in collaboration with the Community Shelter Board and Volunteers of America to manage a family overflow program at the new Van Buren Center. The family shelter is being opened in response to a 79% increase over the course of the past three years, in the number of families seeking shelter.

Last night, the Van Buren Center provided a safe place to sleep for 34 families. These families were comprised of 110 individuals, including 67 children and 164 single adult women, 6 of whom are pregnant. Given the current water alert, the YMCA is in need of bottled water for families with infants less than 6 months of age and pregnant or nursing mothers. In addition, the bottled water is being used to prepare meals at the shelter to minimize any risk.

The community has been very caring with donations of items since the Center opened and we appreciate their continued support during this time. If able to donate, please bring bottled water to the Downtown YMCA, located at 40 W. Long Street. Thank you!

Meet our New President and CEO Stephen Ives


On behalf of the YMCA of Central Ohio Metropolitan Board of Directors and the Executive Search Committee, we are pleased to announce that Stephen Ives has accepted the position of President and CEO for the Association. His first official day with the YMCA of Central Ohio was July 6, 2015.

A native of Maine, Stephen comes to Central Ohio with 27 years of service to the YMCA movement, including 20 years as a CEO. He is currently serving as President and CEO of the Merrimack Valley YMCA in Lawrence, MA.
Ives started his career in aquatics and youth programming at the Portland, Maine YMCA. He developed programs for teen fathers and at risk youth in the inner city while leading camping and youth recreation initiatives before relocating to the Northern York County Family YMCA in Biddeford, Maine

In 2005, Stephen was recruited to become President and CEO of the Merrimack Valley YMCA. The Merrimack Valley Association has long been recognized as a national leader in innovation and entrepreneurship as well as academic initiatives, partnerships and global initiatives for diversity and inclusion.

"I am both impressed and inspired by the depth of social impact work being done by the YMCA of Central Ohio in the form of subsidized housing, early childhood education, truancy initiatives and support for children with special needs," stated Ives. "It is a sincere honor to have the opportunity to build upon that rich history of service to the community and in partnership with the Board of Directors, making sure that the YMCA is so much more for the citizens of Central Ohio.”

YMCA raised more than $70,000 during The Big Give

The results are in! Thanks to your generosity, the YMCA of Central Ohio was able to raise $72,133 in 24 hours during The Columbus Foundation's The Big Give. This generosity will truly help us do so much more for the central Ohio community!

The Big Give took place May 12-May 13 and raised more than $15 million dollars for Columbus nonprofits.

Thank you to all who participated and designated the YMCA of Central Ohio as your charity of choice.

Discovering Potential: Youth & Government

More than 140 YMCA young leaders took place in Youth & Government April 16-18, a three-day learning conference in which students participate directly in a simulation of the democratic process.

YIG offers students the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of issues, develop critical thinking skills, and articulate their beliefs while engaging constructively with those who hold like and opposing views.

Thank you to those who supported this program and helped to create brighter futures!

Staff Spotlight: Stephanie Riffle

Stephanie and teen campers at Liberty Twp/Powell YMCA last summer.

Stephanie Riffle, a long-time YMCA site director in the Olentangy School District, challenged her parents and kids in her before and after care site to help send kids to camp. Using a peer to peer fundraising page and making it easy for parents to give online, she raised more than $1,000.00 in support of sending kids to camp who otherwise may not have the opportunity to do so. Way to go Stephanie, and thank you for your dedication to the Y!

Summer Food Program

For ages 1-18, Monday-Friday

Join the Y for food and fun to keep active and energized all summer long!

  • No enrollment necessary
  • Free of charge
  • Includes 1 hour of physical activity

Click here for printable information.

Available at these sites


130 Woodland Ave., Columbus, OH  43203

  • 8:30 - 9:00AM (breakfast)
  • 12:00 - 12:30PM (lunch)


2879 Valleyview Dr., Columbus, OH  43204

  • 12:15 - 1:00PM (lunch)
  • 3:30 - 4:00PM (snack)

2345 W. Mound St., Columbus, OH  43204

  • 12:00 - 12:45PM (lunch)
  • 3:00 - 3:30PM (snack)

4711 Bay Run Dr., Columbus, OH  43228

Starts June 15

  • 8:30 - 9:00AM (breakfast)
  • 12:00 - 12:45PM (lunch)


1640 Sandalwood Pl., Columbus, OH  43229

  • 8:30 - 9:30AM (breakfast)
  • 11:30AM - 12:30PM (lunch)


3500 1st. Ave., Urbancrest, OH  43123

  • 9:15 - 9:45AM (breakfast)
  • 12:15 - 1:15PM (lunch)


440 Nicholas Dr., Circleville, OH  43113

  • 11:30AM - 12:30PM (lunch)


145 E. Corwin St., Circleville, OH  43113

  • 11:30AM - 12:30PM (lunch)


455 Beechwood Rd., Whitehall, OH  43213

  • 8:00 - 8:30AM (breakfast)
  • 11:30AM - 12:00PM (lunch)

4800 Langley Ave., Whitehall, OH  43123

  • 8:00 - 8:30AM (breakfast)
  • 11:30AM - 12:00PM (lunch)

675 S. Yearling Rd., Whitehall, OH  43123

  • 7:30 - 9:00AM (breakfast)
  • 11:30AM - 12:30PM (lunch)


Nutritious meals and snacks provided as part of the USDA Summer Food Service program.

This program is generously supported by the Walmart Foundation and food is generously provided by Columbus Recreation and Parks at all sites except Pickaway County Family YMCA and Pickaway Head Start.

Pickaway County Family YMCA and Pickaway County Head Start's program is generously supported by Pickaway County Community Action (PICCA) and these programs' food is generously provided by Connie's Country Cafe in Williamsport, Ohio. 

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Stephanie Cedeno

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

614-224-1137 ext. 187

More Information (PDF)

Printable information

Celebrating Fathers and Their Health

On the third Sunday of every June, we take time to honor and thank the fathers, grandfathers and male role models who brighten our lives and provide care and guidance that support strong families and strong communities. As you prepare to celebrate Father’s Day on June 21, show the important men in your life how much they mean to you by helping them adopt habits that promote long, healthy lives. 

At the Y, we help people improve their health and well-being and reduce their risk of chronic disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death among men in the U.S., but early detection and healthy habits that reduce risk factors can go a long way towards defying the odds. Take time during Men’s Health Week, June 15 – 21, to help men strengthen their health and well-being with these tips from the CDC:

Visit Your Doctor. Regular checkups can help diagnose health conditions before they become a problem. If men experience anything out of the ordinary like chest pain, shortness of breath or excessive thirst, they should see a doctor right away.
Quit Smoking. Quitting smoking has immediate and longterm health benefits that include lowering the risk of heart disease, cancer and lung disease.
Stay Active. For good health, adults need at least 2½ hours of aerobic activity a week and muscle strengthening activities that engage all major muscle groups at least twice a week.
Eat Healthy. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and limiting foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol can help prevent chronic disease.
Reduce Stress. Severe stress that feels overwhelming can have negative effects on health. Lean on others for support.
Get Enough Sleep. A lack of sleep is associated with chronic diseases including heart disease. In general, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a day.

May is National Water Safety Month

As the nation’s largest operator of swimming pools, the Y gives more than 1 million children a year the skills they need to be safe around water.

Drowning is a serious threat to the health and well-being of people across the U.S., particularly children and minorities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the secondleading cause of death for children ages 4 to 14, and the rate of drowning for African-American children is nearly three times the rate for white children.

The Y is here to help. Through the recently launched Safety Around Water program, the Y aims to give children of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to develop the invaluable water safety skills that can keep them safe in and around water. These skills not only save lives, but they also help children build confidence in their abilities.

May is Water Safety Month and a good time to make sure children are prepared to be safe around the water. Speak with our staff about helping children develop this important life skill. In addition, caregivers can ensure everyone stays safe around the water with these tips:

Never leave children unattended, and stay vigilant when around any body of water.
Designate a “Water Watcher” to supervise children around water. This person should not read, use a cellphone or be otherwise distracted.
Inexperienced and non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket around water.
Children should stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
Children and adults should not engage in breath-holding activities.

Guest Policy Upgrades

We've upgraded our Guest Policy to now include FREE passes and reduce Guest Pass rates for some categories. Details at: ymcacolumbus.org/guests.

Link to Article


Healthy Kids Day

On Saturday, April 25, the YMCA of Central Ohio is celebrating YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day®, the Y’s national initiative to improve the health and well-being of families. Healthy Kids Day will include fun active play and educational activities to keep kids moving and learning, in order to maintain healthy habits and academic skills to achieve goals and reach their full potential. Millions of children and their families are expected to participate in Healthy Kids at nearly 1,600 events across the country.

Join us April 25 at your local branch for fun activities for the kids and family. See what's going on at your branch below:

April 25, 2015

Delaware Community Center YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: 9:00 a.m.-noon
Activities: 8:00-11:30 a.m.

  • Delaware City Schools 5K Run and Walk: 8:00 a.m.
  • Martial Arts Demonstration
  • Bounce House
  • Kid Fit Test
  • Family Zumba
  • YMCA Art projects
  • 9 Square in the Air game
  • Rock Wall will be open
  • Sports Personal Training
  • Learn about Mingo Day Camp
  • Face painting
  • Balloon Animals
  • Healthy Snacks
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    -Fire Department
    -Police Department
    -Delaware County Library
    -American Red Cross Blood Mobile
    -Delaware County Health District
    -Delaware County JFS
    -Preservation Parks
    -Delaware Chiropractic
    -YMCA Camp Willson
    -Delaware Parent's Club
    -Teen Leaders Club

Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: noon-1:00 p.m.
Activities: 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Open Gymnastics
  • Open Climbing wall
  • Ballet Demo
  • Zumba Demo
  • Gahanna Library
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    - First Watch
    - Dr. Pam Gant
    - Pamer Chiropractic
    - Polaris Mortgage
    - Red Cross
    - Smoothie King
    - Southern-Western Mortgage

Grove City YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Activities: 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Open Climbing Wall
  • Open Gym
  • Open Swim
  • Class Demonstrations (Tae Kwon Do, sports, etc.)
  • Visit from YMCA Camp Willson and their furry friends
  • Obstacle Course
  • Local Organizations and Businesses

Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Activities: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

11:30 a.m. Walk, Wheel, Run with 10TV's Jeff Hogan  

Participants should gather at the gazebo by 11:20. Bring the entire family! Strollers, wheelchairs, bicycles, runners and walkers are all welcome! 

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Hop Skip and Jump game
  • Downward Dog game
  • Visit from YMCA Camp Willson and their furry friends
  • Dance It Off game
  • Go Around in Circles Hoola Hoop contest
  • Everybody Plays game
  • Healthy Taste Test Cooking Demonstrations
  • Obstacle Course
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Community Mural
  • Inspire the Mad Scientist
  • Paper Airplane contest
  • Budding Bookworms
  • Way to grow seed bombs
  • Make Some Music
  • Visit from Red Cross

Hilltop YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Activities: 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Bounce House
  • Face Painting
  • Open Volleyball
  • Field Games
  • Dog Safety Workshop
  • Trike-a-thon
  • 5-on-5
  • Fire Truck
  • Vendors
  • SWAT
  • Combine Competition
  • PM Family Kickball
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Open Gymnastics
  • Open Climbing Wall

Jerry L. Garver YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Activities: noon-4:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Painting
  • Obstacle course
  • Hands on Literacy
  • Math Minutes
  • Punt, Pass, Kick game
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt
  • Face paiting
  • STEM activities
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    - American Lung Association
    - American Red Cross
    - The Andersons
    - The Barn
    - Bicycle One: Bike Safety
    - Boys & Girls Club
    - Cameron Mitchell
    - City BBQ
    - Columbus Ultimate Disc: Family Frisbie Game
    - COSI
    - Dentist Dr. Larry Devese
    - Fire Department
    - Fuel Up to play 60
    - Go Go Squeeze
    - Jackson Lake Campground
    - Kristal and Forche Orthodontics
    - Krogers Foods
    - Oriental Trading Company
    - OSU Human Nutrition Department
    - Pickerington Library
    - Police Department: Child Id’s & Cars
    - Rolling Arcade: Dance Dance Party
    - Small Smiles
    - Wayne Webb Bowling Center
    - We Joy Sing: Music Table
    - WIC
    - Youth Advocate Services

Liberty Twp./Powell YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: 9:00 a.m.-noon
Activities: 9:00 a.m.-noon

Fitness Related Groups/Clinics/Demos

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Jiu Jitsu skills clinics and demos with Gracie Studios
  • Cheerleading skills clinics and demos with Olentangy Liberty High School Cheerleaders
  • Family Yoga class
  • Kids Zumba class
  • Fencing skills clinics and demos with ProFencing

Local Organizations and Businesses

  • Red Cross- Hand washing station
  • Powell Police Dept.
  • US Army Recruiters
  • Delaware Police Dept.
  • YMCA Camp Wilson- Pony rides 
  • Columbus Zoo- Mobile zoo and mascot
  • Children's Hospital mobile unit

Entertainment and Games

  • Local Powell Band- Liberty Deep Down Band
  • Healthy Food Game
  • Short Running Race 
  • Ohio Machine
  • Blue Jackets
  • Life Size Chess
  • Healthy snack and crafts

North YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: 5:00-6:00 p.m.
Flick & Float Family Movie in our Pool: 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Pickaway County Family YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: noon-1:00 p.m.
Activities: 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Rowdy Rascals- 4H
  • Fitness obstacle course
  • Tang Soo Do  demonstration
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    - Circleville City Police
    - Ohio State Highway Patrol
    - Pickaway Co Sheriffs office
    - Circleville Fire Dept.
    - Boy Scout Troop 55
    - Dental Wellness checks by Dr. Sean Byers, DDS

Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Activities: 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Face Painting
  • Bounce House
  • Venders
  • Fire Department
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Healthy snacks

Eldon & Elise Family YMCA
FREE Swim Evaluations: 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Activities: 1:00-4:00 p.m.

  • Swim Evaluations
  • Bouncy House
  • Fire Department's Fire House
  • Massages and Spinal Screenings by the Buckeye Physical Medicine & Rehab
  • Workouts
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Local Organizations and Businesses:
    - Blingg
    - City Year
    - Girl Scouts
    - Columbus Police Department
    - MLK Columbus Metropolitan Library
    - Park Fun
  • Martial Arts Demo
  • Cooking Demos
  • Pool Activities
    - Life Jacket Fitting and Boating Safety 1:00-2:00 p.m.
    - Open Swim 1:00-4:00 p.m.
    - Gently-used Swim Suit Giveaway


von Hippel, P.T., Powell, B., Downey, D.B., & Rowland, N., American Journal of Public Health, “The effect of school on overweight in childhood: Gains in children’s body mass index during the school year and during summer vacation”, April 2007

Horizons National, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahhj3wxxkdM&feature=player_embedded

March 24 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day

Tuesday, March 24, is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, and the YMCA of Central Ohio wants residents of Columbus to know their risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, as well as preventative steps they can take today to reduce the chances of developing the disease.

In the United States alone, 26 million people suffer from diabetes and 79 million people have prediabetes. These statistics are alarming, and the impact on the cost of health care and the overall well-being of our communities makes preventing the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes more important than ever before.

The nation’s struggle with obesity and type 2 diabetes is no surprise but the number of people with prediabetes is a growing issue, especially when only 11 percent realize they have the condition. Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Often a preventable condition, people with prediabetes can reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by adopting behavior changes that include eating healthier and increasing physical activity. People with prediabetes are at risk for not only developing type 2 diabetes, but also cardiovascular disease, stroke and other conditions.

As a leading voice on improving the nation’s health and well-being, the YMCA of Central Ohio encourages all adults learn their vulnerability for type 2 diabetes by taking a risk assessment at http://www.diabetes.org/risktest Sever.al factors that could put a person at risk for type 2 diabetes include family history, age, weight and activity level, among others.

Some basic lifestyle changes that contribute to weight loss and an increased focus on healthy living can decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes. Among these are:

• Eat fruits and vegetables every day.
• Choose fish, lean meats and poultry without skin.
• Aim for whole grains with every meal.
• Be moderately active at least 30 minutes per day five days a week.
• Choose water to drink instead of beverages with added sugar.
• Speak to your doctor about your diabetes risk factors, especially if you have a family history of the disease or are overweight. 

To learn more about the YMCA of Central Ohio’s Diabetes Prevention Program, please visit http://ymcacolumbus.org/diabetes or contact Caroline Rankin, director of chronic disease prevention programs, at 614-384-2281.

March is National Nutrition Month: Plan, Prep and Eat Together

Busy schedules can make finding time for healthy family meals a challenge, but when we opt for convenient and quick options like ‘fast food’ or eat at different times, we lose the opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones and support our health and well-being. When all members of the family are engaged in planning, cooking and then sharing regular, nutritious meals—be it breakfast, lunch or dinner—caregivers can take advantage of this time spent together and nurture children’s development by serving as positive role models, strengthening family relationships and setting healthy habits to promote children’s health and wellbeing later in life. At the Y, strengthening community is our cause, and strong families make for strong communities. March is National Nutrition Month® and a good time to consider how changing up your meal routine can strengthen your family’s health and well-being. Here are a few helpful tips the YMCA of Central Ohio team recommends for making healthy family meals a priority:

HOLD A WEEKLY PLANNING PARTY Gather the family around some healthy snacks and hold a meal planning party where everyone helps plan healthy family meals and creates a grocery list with needed ingredients. Involving children in selecting ingredients may make them more receptive to trying new foods and recipes.

COOK TOGETHER By preparing meals together, caregivers can teach kids about what goes into making a nutritious meal while also imparting useful skills and spending quality time with them. Break tasks down into manageable pieces and encourage children to touch, smell and taste ingredients. Have fun and let everyone experience how good it feels to work together.

ENJOY AND RELAX Mealtime is perfect for family conversation. Engage kids in conversation that excites them and spend time talking about the meal they helped plan and prepare. This should be a time when everyone feels connected and part of the family.

Tips for Safer Snow Removal

At the Y, we have a partnership with The Ohio State University Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation at our locations in Gahanna, Grove City, Hilliard and Liberty Township/Powell. They recommend these tips for safer snow removal in accordance with recommendations from the American Heart Association. Below are a few of the tips you should follow when shoveling snow:

1. Give yourself frequent rest breaks.

2. Don’t eat a heavy meal prior to or soon after shoveling.

3. Use a small shovel or consider a snow blower.

4. Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body.

5. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after.

6. Consult your physician if you have a pre-existing condition. 

7. Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia.

Tips for Achieving New Year’s Resolutions

Each year, millions of Americans resolve to get in better shape and become healthier versions of themselves. According to a recent YMCA survey of more than 1,000 adults, less than a quarter of respondents kept their resolution in 2014. An overwhelming 71 percent said they tried but fell short, and 40 percent confessed that they made it through only a couple of weeks or months. 

However, there’s hope for the coming year. One-third of survey respondents who plan to make a resolution in 2015 believe they’ll stick to it and reach their goals, with more than half believing that encouragement from others will keep them committed.

A positive outlook doesn’t always translate to action unless without setting manageable goals and leaning on the support of health and wellness communities. Here are five tips the YMCA of Central Ohio recommends to help make a healthy New Year’s resolution stick:

1. Start small. Set attainable resolutions. For example, if your goal is to exercise more frequently in the New Year, don’t schedule seven days a week at the gym. Start with a reasonable three days a week. If you’d like to eat healthier, try replacing desserts with other foods you enjoy, such as fruit or yogurt.

2. Take it one step at a time. Making a New Year’s resolution doesn’t require you to reassess every little detail of your life. Replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones takes time, so don’t become overwhelmed. Work to change one behavior at a time, and then go from there.

3. Choose a facility that focuses on a holistic approach to health. When it comes to adding healthy behaviors – like working out – to your lifestyle, finding a facility that keeps you motivated is critical to maintaining your exercise routine. Before committing to a membership, take a tour of local gyms to find the best fit for you. Your facility should not be just a gym, but a community organization that offers more health, more hope and more opportunity such as the YMCA. 

4. Establish a little friendly competition. More than half of the Y survey respondents felt a little “healthy competition” when friends encouraged them to be even more committed to keeping their New Year’s resolutions. Share your experiences with support groups – friends, family, fellow workout class members or close colleagues. Talking about your struggles and successes will make your goals more attainable and less intimidating.

5. Set New Year’s goals with someone you love. It’s easier to stick to your resolutions if you have a partner working toward similar goals. More than three-fourths of survey respondents indicated that they would set the same resolution for a member of their immediate family. Team up with a family member to set your 2015 goals, and establish a game plan that is dedicated to achieving them.

The easiest gift you’ll make this year!

How YOU can give back to your community

Did you know you can help the Y when you shop at Kroger and Amazon, and there's no extra cost to you? Kroger Community Rewards® and AmazonSmile make giving easy!

By designating the YMCA of Central Ohio as the recipient of these programs, you are helping us to provide safe and affordable child care for working parents, low income housing for those who may otherwise be homeless, health and wellness activities to help individuals prevent or manage cardiovascular disease and so much more.

Read on to learn how you can help through these great opportunities. Your designations will assist the YMCA of Central Ohio in continuing to meet the needs of our community.

Kroger Community Rewards®

All you have to do is sign into your Plus Card account on Kroger's website and enroll in the Kroger Community Rewards® Program. Then, when you shop at Kroger, swipe your Plus Card, and a percentage of your shopping dollars will come directly to the YMCA to help support all that we do in our community. 

As a requirement of the Kroger Community Rewards® Program, you must renew your enrollment annually in order for the YMCA of Central Ohio to continue to receive donations from this program.



By using AmazonSmile and designating the YMCA of Central Ohio, .5% of eligible purchases will help strengthen your community through the YMCA's efforts. When you shop, make sure to browse using smile.amazon.com, which will show you the same products at the same prices.

Kroger and Amazon do NOT share the names of individuals who are enrolled in either program with the YMCA of Central Ohio.


Allison Wiley

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NEW 9 Week Sessions

Winter Session

January5 - March 8, 2015 

We’re gearing up for 2015 and have some great news to share! New in 2015 is a 9 week session calendar designed to help you experience more in-depth training and better progression toward your goals. We’re committed to making sure you enjoy your YMCA experience; have priority registration for the programs you want and are here to help you reach your health and wellness goals in the new year.

  • Deeper Focus and training
  • Registration available before session ends
  • 9 Weeks = more progress
  • Streamlined online registration on the new Hub         

  Winter registration available December 6th


We look forward to seeing you at the Y in 2015. 

Registration Begins

Members: December 6, 2014

Non Members: December 13, 2014




Renovations nearly complete at Four YMCAs

Created with flickr slideshow.

We're thrilled our branch renovations are nearing completion! The Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA, Grove City YMCA, Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA and Liberty Township/Powell YMCA all received redesigned: 

  • Welcome Centers
  • Member Lounges
  • flooring throughout
  • tracks
  • cardio and strength equipment
  • and more!

Check out what's new at...

Make sure stop by one of these Ys for a full tour of the spaces!



YMCA of Central Ohio preschoolers help set new Guinness Book World Record

About 100 pre-school-aged children and their teachers from the YMCA of Central Ohio gathered Thursday, October 30 at the Hilltop YMCA/Cherry Creek location to help set the Guinness Book World Record for largest vocabulary lesson. The event was part of the Grow Up Great initiative, hosted by PNC Financial Services, which focuses on early learning in youth development.

More than 4,000 children in 37 cities across 15 states and the District of Columbia participated in the lesson. The new record for largest vocabulary lesson was set with the first 1,031 participants throughout the country. Children who participated in the event each took home a copy of “Words are Here, There and Everywhere,” an English/Spanish multimedia kit created by Sesame Workshop. PNC’s Grow Up Great has been helping children prepare for Kindergarten for 10 years. The YMCA of Central Ohio Child Care leadership was thrilled to be involved with the event and thank the PNC Financial Services team for their support of early childhood learning. To see more photos from the event, click here

Now accepting proposals for project at the Cherry Creek YMCA location.

Now accepting proposals for project at the Cherry Creek YMCA location.  Responses must be bid using federal Davis/ Bacon prevailing wage standards.



Rich Zingale

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More Information (PDF)

YMCA Cherry Creek - Project - Bid & Permit Set

Many Child Care Job Openings in the YMCA

Olentangy Local Openings

Site Director Openings - 1

View Description and Apply


Teacher Openings

8(am-7-9)& 11 pm 3-6)
Alum Creek - 1am & 1pm
Arrowhead - 1am & 1pm
Freedom Trail - 1pm
Indian Springs - 1am & 1pm
Liberty Tree - 1am & 1pm
Olentangy Meadows - 1pm
Scioto Ridge - 1am
Tyler Run - 3am & 3pm
Wyandot Run - 1pm
Oak Creek - 1pm
View Description and Apply

North Openings

FT Lead Preschool Teacher - View Description and Apply
PT Before/After School Teacher- View Description and Apply

West, Hilltop, Openings

Site Director Openings - 3

Montrose (am and pm) - Bexley City Schools
Harmon (pm) - Southwestern City Schools
Hamilton (am and pm) - Hamilton Local Schools
View Description and Apply

11 Teacher Openings

Hamilton Elementary (pm) 3-6 - Hamilton Township Schools
Harmon (pm) 2-6pm - Southwestern City Schools
West Bay (pm) 2-6pm - Southwestern City Schools
Prairie Norton (pm) 2-6pm - Southwestern City Schools
North Franklin (pm) 2-6pm - Southwestern City Schools
Alton Hall (pm) 2-6pm - Southwestern City Schools
Darby Woods (pm) 3-6pm - Southwestern City Schools
Montrose (pm) 3-6pm - Bexley City Schools
Valleyview (pm) 2-6pm - Columbus City Schools
Southwood (pm) 3-6pm - Columbus City Schools
Fairwood (pm) 3-6 pm - Columbus City Schools
View Description and Apply

Jerry L. Garver Openings

Site Director Opening-1

Full time - Pickerington Local Schools View Description and Apply

Teachers Opening - 2

Whitehall (pm) 2-6pm Pickerington teacher (pm) 2-6pm View Description and Apply

Hilltop Educare Openings

Full-Time Infant Teacher

(bachelors in ECE or equivalent) M-F 9-6 View Description and Apply

Preschool Teacher

(any education but would prefer at least a CDA, but an Associates in ECE would be great. M-F 9-6 View Description and Apply

Floater Position

7-9am or 10 am M-F View Description and Apply

Early Learning Openings

Baby Room Closer

3-6pm - Qualifications: in school for ECE or related degree View Description and Apply

West Side shelter opens to accommodate homeless families

Please see below for a recent article from the July 24, 2014 edition of The Columbus Dispatch about the new Van Buren Center. 

A renovated West Side warehouse in which boxes were manufactured now provides a resting place for homeless families.

The Community Shelter Board opened its newest shelter, at 525 Van Buren Dr., last night to about 40 families who couldn’t squeeze into the already-packed YWCA Family Center on the East Side.

“We’re providing a refuge of peace, hope and safety,” said Sue Darby, the executive director of the Downtown district of the YMCA of Central Ohio, which provides overnight staffing at the new shelter.

Built for 50 families, the YWCA Family Center has served more than 120 people at a time, with many of the kids and their parents ending up on cots, in churches or at motels because there were no empty beds.

The Community Shelter Board has even tried paying friends and family members to let homeless families stay with them, but it hasn’t stemmed the flow.

“The increase in family homelessness is absolutely astronomical,” said Michelle Heritage, the shelter board’s executive director.

Over the past three years, homelessness in Franklin County grew by 14 percent among single men and women and 65 percent among families, according to the shelter board. To meet this need, the board has spent an additional $1.5 million in motel and overflow-shelter costs, Heritage said.

Though it had long held out against a brick-and-mortar response, the shelter board decided the time had come for a new shelter, and it bought the former Columbus Paper Box property in the West Edge Business Center.

Families sent to the West Side shelter will spend the night in beds initially intended for single men and women through at least November. That’s when more homeless adults will come in off the streets looking for a warm, dry place to sleep, Heritage said.

During the day, the families will be taken to the YWCA Family Center for services.

The shelter board is raising money to build a permanent family shelter on the second floor of the Van Buren building. It is to have private sleeping rooms for families, a homework room and offices where clients can meet with case managers. It is to open by September 2015, and Volunteers of America will operate it.

“The dramatic increase in families seeking shelter is pretty unbelievable,” said Volunteers of America spokeswoman Nicole Knowlton. “It’s the children who are the most vulnerable and hardest hit.”

The $13.7 million shelter will serve up to 356 single men and women and 85 families in separate wings and will have a medical clinic and meeting rooms, Heritage said.

It will also serve as the new home for Rebecca’s Place, which currently provides shelter to 47 women in a run-down building on Rhoads Avenue on the East Side. The property’s previous owner went bankrupt, and the building went into foreclosure.

The relocation of Rebecca’s Place is expected to be completed by the end of this month. By mid-August, the shelter board expects to begin admitting single women. It won’t start taking men until November, when the weather starts to turn cold.

The shelter board is also unveiling a new program in October aimed at helping single adults move quickly into stable housing and steer clear of the obstacles that can push them back into homelessness. People will be assigned to case managers who will link them to housing, job training and medical and mental-health care.

People will be assigned to the same case manager if they end up back in a shelter, and that person will check on them after they’ve found housing, to make sure their lives stay on a positive track.

“They’re your person who will stay with you — no matter where you go,” Heritage said.

Link to Article


Thank you for ensuring kids stay safe in water

If you were at a branch this summer, you might have noticed a few ducks waddling around. The ducks invited our members and community to help us address a critical need in our community - keeping children safe around water. Our staff and volunteers had a great time in their fundraising efforts by dressing up in duck costumes or wearing flotation devices.

Kathryn Dobbs, YMCA of Central Ohio's Vice President of Philanthropy said, "This is truly a great way for our Y community to build awareness about water safety and the need to teach children to swim. With the funds raised through this initiative, we're able to support families and children who otherwise could not participate in swim lessons".

Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning (www.cdc.gov/safechild).  At the Y, we want to ensure that children, teens and adults have access to programs such as swim lessons. The outcome is more than a great backstroke, it can save a life.

Through this effort, our members and community partners helped more than 500 children who will now have access to swim lessons. Thank you to all who helped make this possible in Central Ohio!

Community Impact Breakfast Features Michael Eicher

On June 17, the Columbus Foundation welcomed the YMCA of Central Ohio and 100 guests for a special Community Impact Breakfast. 

Michael Eicher, senior vice president of advancement at The Ohio State University and president of The Ohio State University Foundation served as the keynote speaker for the event. 

Prior to joining Ohio State, Mike was senor vice president for external affairs and development at Johns Hopkins University, where he led the Knowledge for the World campaign, resulting in commitments of more then $3.7 billion, focused on the critical unmet needs of the university.

While Mr. Eicher's professional resume is accomplished, he also has a long, rich history with the YMCA. As part of the National Board at YMCA of the USA, Mike is bringing his extraordinary knowledge and dedicated counsel to the work of the YMCA movement, benefitting Y's across the country.

Mike's inspirational keynote included personal reflections and stories of his experiences with the YMCA.

Help Support Your Community

Supply drive to benefit homeless adults & children at Van Buren Front Door Shelter

General Items Needed

  • Blankets
  • Twin sheets
  • Pillow cases
  • Tooth brushes
  • Tooth pastes
  • Floss
  • Feminine products
  • Deodorant
  • Pillows
  • Bar Soap (travel size)
  • Shampoo (travel size)
  • Conditioner (travel size)
  • Lip balm
  • Socks (mens black tube socks preferred)
  • Depends
  • New Underwear
  • Books (especially resource books)
  • Disposable Razors 
  • Games/Cards
  • Educational Materials
  • Baby Powder
  • Daily Planners

Items Needed for Children

  • cribs
  • baby wash tubs
  • play pens/pack & plays
  • high chairs
  • bibs
  • sipper cups
  • bounce chairs
  • baby crank swings
  • diaper pails
  • baby formula
  • baby food
  • baby wipes
  • diapers
  • children's pull ups.


Elizabeth Zingale

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At the YMCA of Central Ohio, the safety of members, program participants and staff is our highest priority. After careful review and consideration of national statistics showing no injuries and/or deaths associated with the use of indoor swimming pools during thunderstorms where lightning is present in the area, we’re pleased to provide our updated policy below. For outdoor pools, however, swimming during a thunderstorm is extremely dangerous. Lightning regularly strikes water, and since water conducts electricity, a nearby lightning strike is extremely probable.

The indoor pools and pool decks at all YMCA of Central Ohio locations will remain open during thunderstorms. We reserve the right to close the indoor pool if severe weather is in the direct vicinity and poses a significant threat. Indoor pools will close immediately when a tornado warning has been issued in the area. All members and staff will receive instruction for the safest location inside the facility while the area is under a tornado warning. Once the warning has been lifted, all swimming pools will reopen. During a high wind advisory outside, pools that have windows will be asked to move all outdoor equipment to a safe location, and the blinds pulled until the advisory is lifted.

Lightning and Thunder: When thunder or lightning is first noticed, outdoor pool activities will be suspended and all outdoor pools and pool decks will be evacuated until 30 minutes after the last sign of thunder or lightning. The distance from a facility to an approaching thunderstorm can be five to eight miles away, but lightning can strike from a much farther distance.

Heavy rain can make it difficult to see the bottom of a pool or beneath the surface. If heavy rain causes bottom obstruction, pools will be cleared and swimming halted until the rain lets up. Wind can also cause safety hazards. If wind is observably strong or gusty and causes bottom obstruction due to rippling, swimmers will be cleared from pools until the bottom is visible.

Bickley YMCA marks decade

The Gahanna community is invited to help celebrate a decade as the Gahanna John E. Bickley YMCA during an open house from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 31.

Wellness-services director Valerie Baumann said the 10-year anniversary celebration would include family Zumba, a bounce house, carnival games, face painting, a Slip'n Slide, a nutrition seminar, field games, a children's hip-hop and other activities.

The open house is free, and the membership enrollment fee will be waived all day, so nonmembers are invited to attend.

Baumann said more than 20 local businesses would be represented, including Giant Eagle and Bob Evans, as well as such small businesses as Shampooch.

Gahanna YMCA executive director Paul Westenheffer said 10 years is a very exciting milestone.

"Our staff and volunteers are proud to celebrate this anniversary and reflect back on the hard work so many people have provided to make our Y a success," he said. "We have been very fortunate to receive tremendous support from the Gahanna community over the years. We appreciate that support and look forward to serving the community for many more years to come."

The Gahanna YMCA opened March 9, 2004.

Westenheffer said the Y has been working with the Ohio State University for outpatient rehabilitation since its opening.

The Gahanna YMCA is volunteer-led, with 21 active board members.

Last year, the Y donated $270,000 to the community, according to Baumann.

She said donations have subsidized memberships, camp registration, swim lessons and program registration for a diabetes prevention program.

"We also have an upcoming program this fall that has already been implemented at other central Ohio YMCAs, called Livestrong, at the YMCA," Baumann said.

The program allows cancer survivors to work with trainers to build strength after treatments.

"We offer this program completely free to cancer survivors, and this is only possible with the support of others," Baumann said. "In addition, this summer, 40 percent of our campers will be able to attend kids camp because of subsidized registration.

Baumann said Gahanna's current membership is 14,140.

Thanks to a partnership with the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools, Westenheffer said, the Gahanna YMCA at Clark Hall opened September 6, 2011.

He said the Y offers more than 100 group exercise classes per week, and the largest program is swim lessons, with more than 500 participants per session.

The Gahanna YMCA employs more than 170 people, and it's a host site for the U.S. Navy SEALs training program.

"The Y is community-centered," Westenheffer said. "We respond to community needs through collaboration, program and services."

He said the Y also brings people together, connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to bridge the gaps in community needs. And the Y nurtures potential.

"We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive," Westenheffer said.

Link to Article


LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA registration open

Cancer is a life-changing disease that takes a tremendous physical and emotional toll on those affected. LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA, a research-based physical activity and well-being program for adult cancer survivors, provides survivors with the opportunity to come to the Y to heal. Participants work with Y staff trained in supportive cancer care to safely achieve their goals such as building muscle mass and strength; increasing flexibility and endurance; and improving confidence and self-esteem. By focusing on the whole person and not the disease, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is helping people move beyond cancer in spirit, mind and body.

We have classes starting at the following YMCA branches (Y membership is not required and the program is free for participants): 

Hilltop YMCA - 614-276-8224
Eldon & Elsie Ward Family YMCA - 614-252-3166
Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA - 614-416-9622
Downtown YMCA - 614-224-1131
North YMCA - 614-885-4252
Pickaway County Family YMCA - 740-477-1661
Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA - 614-539-1770

Please call us with any questions. 

OCU athletes join people with disabilities for basketball clinic

Members of the Ohio Christian University men’s basketball team spent the day Wednesday as teachers at a basketball clinic for people with disabilities, but in the process learned lessons of their own.

About 200 people participated in the event held at the Pickaway County Family YMCA, according to Chris Hiles, vice president of media and sales for IN-Abled, the company organizing the clinic.

“It’s really a life-changing event,” Hiles said. “Not only for the participants but also for the student athletes to see that people are people and to break down those barriers for people with disabilities.”

The participants ranged in age and were invited through a partnership with Berger Health System, the Pickaway County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Special Olympics and Easter Seals, as well as organizations in Ross, Fairfield and Fayette counties like Good Hands Supported Living, he said.

Students from Teays Valley and Westfall school districts also participated in the clinic.

The event was held as a Christian service project for the OCU men’s team, which is part of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Though the first of its kind, the local event is being used to develop a model that may be used by the NCCAA as a standard for future Christian service projects nationwide.

The clinics were followed by an exhibition game between NCCAA and OCU officials and an all-star team held Wednesday night at OCU. Proceeds from the game benefit Easter Seals, which Hiles said was chosen because it is a holistic service organization with an international reach that provides services for people with disabilities.

Hiles, a former employee of the local YMCA and a graduate of the former Circleville Bible College (now OCU), said the Y offered its facility free of charge for the clinics on Wednesday.

“Our idea has always been that the YMCA should be a community center, and it fit our mission well to work with them,” said Jeff Phillips, director of the Pickaway County Family YMCA. “There was a lot of activity, a lot of energy and smiles, not only from the kids but also the basketball players. They had a great time, and we were proud to be part of it.”

IN-Abled, based in Logan, is a media company that creates person-centered illustrations focusing on the success, abilities and inclusion of a diverse group of people in the disabilities community, according to its Web site.

More information can be found Online at www.in-abled.com.

Link to Article


YMCA of Central Ohio Staff Donate over $122K to Annual Campaign

To date, YMCA of Central Ohio staff have donated $122,232 to the organization’s 2014 Annual Campaign. Sixty-five percent of the organization’s more than 1,800 employees donated to the 2014 campaign, an increase in participation of 2 percent from 2013.

YMCA of Central Ohio officials and members of the Board of Directors recognized the staff’s outstanding philanthropic performance last week at a celebration to kick off the organization’s external 2014 Annual Campaign. Community Campaign volunteers also attended the event to learn about opportunities to strengthen the Y’s Cause throughout Central Ohio. Staff and community volunteer donations have already raised more than $500K toward the organization’s $1M goal. The YMCA of Central Ohio moved into the public phase of its campaign March 10.

“I’m so proud of our staff and volunteers,” said Andrew Roberts, President and CEO of the YMCA of Central Ohio. “Throughout Central Ohio, countless people know they can count on the Y. We don’t turn anyone away for inability to pay. Every day, we work throughout our local communities to support the children, adults, families and neighborhoods that need us most. We are launching our Annual Campaign to ensure that everyone in our community has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.”

Financial gifts will help to close gaps in the community and to strengthen Central Ohio by helping individuals and families through programs and services that support the Y’s commitment to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Individuals interested in donating to the YMCA of Central Ohio can do so by visiting www.ymcacolumbus.org/give.

Enhance®Fitness for older adults

Enhance®Fitness is an evidence-based group exercise program, helps older adults at all levels of fitness become more active, energized, an empowered to sustain independent lives. This wellness program focuses on dynamic cardiovascular exercise, strength training, balance, and flexibility — everything older adults need to maintain health and function as they age.

In a typical class, participants will experience:
• A certified instructor with special training in bringing out the physical best from older adults
• A 5-minute warm-up to get the blood flowing to the muscles
• A 20-minute aerobics workout that gets participants moving, or a walking workout to lively music that the class chooses
• A 5-minute cool-down
• A 20-minute strength training workout with soft ankle and wrist weights (0 up to 20 pounds)
• A 10-minute stretching workout to keep the muscles flexible
• Balance exercises throughout the class
• Lots of opportunities for participants to make new friends and acquaintances!


Locations and Contact Information:

Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA
Brianna Burke

Hilltop YMCA
Barbara Camfield

Delaware Community Center YMCA
Amy Mosser

Grove City YMCA
Angie Jordan

Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA
Inez Rosa

March is National Nutrition Month

Shop Healthy

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential to every person’s well-being. As a leading nonprofit for healthy living, the YMCA of Central Ohio encourages healthy eating habits by providing nutritious meals and snacks during programs and activities. We also provide families with tips and ideas for eating healthy at home.

March is National Nutrition Month, and the Y is sharing a few healthy shopping tips to help you make the healthiest grocery selections for you and your family. As a general rule, it’s best to reach for groceries that are stocked around the perimeter of the store. Here are a few tips to remember on your next shopping trip:

Opt for Whole Grains

• Check the ingredients list to make sure a whole grain (like whole wheat, barley, oats, rye or brown rice) is listed first.
• Choose whole grains with no more than 5 grams of sugar.
• Pick up quick-cooking grains such as whole- wheat pasta, brown rice or quinoa.

Cut the Salt

• Check nutrition labels on canned, boxed and frozen foods to ensure sodium (salt) levels are below 300 mg per serving.
• Choose real cheese instead of cheese products.
• Consider alternatives to lunchmeat, which can contain high levels of salt, like no-salt-added peanut butter with bananas, or fresh vegetables with hummus.

YMCA’s Weather Policy

Snow Emergency: (As determined by the county where the branch is located)


Level I:

  • YMCA will be open for normal operating hours.
  • Classes/programs will follow their regular schedule.

Level II:

  • YMCA of Central Ohio branches affected by a Level II snow emergency may have a delay in opening or early closure.
  • Morning or evening classes/programs may be cancelled at YMCA of Central

Level III:

  • YMCA of Central Ohio locations affected by a Level III snow emergency will be closed.
  • All classes/programs of the locations affected, will be cancelled for as long as the Level III snow emergency is in place.


Gahanna/Bickley YMCA gets facelift, new equipment

Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA members soon will be able to work out in style with new equipment and renovated facilities, thanks to the YMCA of Central Ohio and a gift from the Limited Brands Foundation.

Gahanna YMCA director Paul Westenheffer said he is thrilled and honored to have the Y collaborate with the Limited Brands Foundation and Victoria's Secret to better serve the Gahanna community.

An undisclosed financial gift from the Limited Brands Foundation to revitalize the interior spaces of the Y will make the local facility more conducive to helping individuals develop healthy habits, Westenheffer said.

Improvements will include new carpeting, fresh paint and a new color palette, new surfaces on the member service desk and vanities, newly-designed resource displays and large-screen televisions.

New equipment will feature rotating staircases, a high-tech spinning bike, a rope climber, treadmills, elliptical machines, rowers and other cardio equipment.

"Whether it is refurbished fitness areas, which will help the community stay healthy, or a new coffee and lounge area for seniors to have a welcoming place to meet with friends, or revitalized locker rooms designed for families, the Victoria's Secret and YMCA teams worked closely together with the needs of the whole community in mind," Westenheffer said.

Construction began Dec. 16 and is expected to be completed by mid-January. Finishing touches like painting and lighting are scheduled to be finished by the Gahanna Y's 10th anniversary in March.

"The bulk of it will be done soon," Westenheffer said.

He said the collaboration between the YMCA and Limited Brands went beyond the monetary gift by the foundation.

"The YMCA has added to the total to help us purchase additional equipment, both to replenish items that needed replaced and to add newer, state-of-the-art equipment," Westenheffer said. "It will be of great appeal to our members and others. This wasn't a capital campaign. The grant triggered the whole project. We looked at what we could get done and how to complement the grant."

Led by YMCA board member Patrick Sanderson, COO of Victoria's Secret stores, a team of Victoria's Secret interior designers volunteered their time and talents to partner with YMCA leaders over the course of several months to redesign spaces that weren't inviting. They also considered what was needed to help Y members meet their personal goals.

"With these new spaces, the YMCA refreshes its promise to be a place in which all are welcome, feel comfortable and confident and are supported by YMCA staff that is dedicated to their personal growth and well-being," Westenheffer said.

Link to Article


From the Y to the Canadian Football League

The Y is the starting point for many youth to learn about becoming and staying active, and developing healthy habits they will carry with them throughout their lives. The benefits are far greater than just physical. When kids play sports, they can build confidence, discover their personal best, have fun and be a part of a team. 

Chip Cox, 30, of Columbus, OH, first came to the North YMCA as a child with his father and brother. He enjoyed spending time with his family, working out, playing sports in the gym and meeting new friends. He had goals and worked toward them throughout the years. Now, he's a linebacker for the Montreal Alouettes and was recently named Defensive Player of the year in the Canadian Football League. Chip is very team-oriented and said the award isn't just about him but also about his teammates. 

During the offseason, he still visits the North YMCA to work out and train when he's in town and said the Y is a welcoming community. 

"The Y feels like home and is my home away from home," Chip said. "I've met so many great people at the Y and have learned a lot about community."

Congratulations, Chip! We're so proud of you. 


The Good Life | YMCA volunteer prepares residents for the long run

When he crossed the finish line last month at the Ohio State Four-Miler, Doug Del Vigna wasn’t done running.

He didn’t collect his medal right away; instead, he returned to the pack of thousands to find a member of the Columbus Sole team to accompany to the end.

Along with two other “mentors,” Del Vigna wanted to ensure that all five Columbus Sole members completed the race.

“We have a variety of skill levels,” said the Grandview Heights resident, who founded the group in the summer.

“One can run sub-eight-minute miles, and one’s a walker.”

Race times, though, matter little to Columbus Sole, whose members live at the Downtown YMCA.

“The running team is a vehicle to get them to develop connections, commitment, trust and accomplishment,” said Del Vigna, a 38-year-old pilot and avid runner.

“It’s a peace away from all the other challenges of life.”

The Ohio State Four-Miler, a fundraiser for cancer research, marked the first of many races for which Del Vigna plans to encourage YMCA residents — and, in the future, other homeless people — to train.

Although the residents need basic help in finding a job, permanent housing or maybe even their next meal, Del Vigna thought he could make a difference, too, by establishing a running program.

Before he could get Columbus Sole off its feet, however, he had to outfit team members in proper footwear. (The retailer FrontRunner donated shoes and socks.)

Three months ago, YMCA officials identified nine men for the group; five chose to take part, signing a contract with Del Vigna pledging not to miss more than five practices during the 10 weeks of training.

The runners followed a 5-kilometer training schedule, taking short walks and gradually reaching longer runs.

With the weather having turned wintry, the group is now practicing just once a week, usually inside the YMCA gym.

Training will pick up in February for a spring race.

Before he joined the group, Cedric Campbell hadn’t imagined running a mile, let alone 4 miles. (He finished the race in 54 minutes.)

“Are you kidding me?” said the 61-year-old, a YMCA resident for almost three years.

“I would cross the street and almost pass out.”

His success, he said, has boosted his confidence.

“Now I think: ‘Maybe you can do that. I could try yoga or run a marathon.’”

YMCA staff members have witnessed attitude changes with other team members, including two who recently found their own places.

The program has allowed them to assume a label other than homeless, said YMCA Executive Director Sue Darby, who watched the men attach their numbers to their matching bright-blue shirts before the Nov. 10 race.

Now, they are runners.

“Pinning on that number was so positive,” Darby said.

Beyond monetary and in-kind donations, she said, volunteer time especially counts.

Del Vigna, she said, has encouraged one runner to visit his young son more often and helped all the team members learn to trust one another.

“There was this shift,” Darby said, “of going from their problems pushing them around to their dreams leading them.”

Next year, YMCA officials plan to open the program to all 400 residents.

Del Vigna is seeking help with three-times-a-week training runs on the Scioto Trail.

He is surprised at how close the team members have become — a sentiment echoed by Campbell.

“Participating in this has brought a great relationship here,” he said. “I would’ve missed that."

For more information about Columbus Sole, email Doug Del Vigna atddelvigna@gmail.com.

Link to Article


Running to strengthen their community

A neighborhood doesn’t always have a sense of community. But one group of residents who live in the residential section of the Downtown YMCA recently removed the barriers of communication to discover community and brotherhood.

In September, five residents began training for the Ohio State University (OSU) 4 Miler. They received free shoes through donations from Front Runner and met weekly to train for the run. Volunteers from the YMCA of Central Ohio met with the residents during training to encourage them throughout the training process. In addition, the residents met with local church members and a Reverend at some gatherings to discuss their progress and share experiences.

Amanda Owen, Director of Supportive Services at the Downtown YMCA, said, “Through the running club, residents were able to form a community, engage in discussions about issues affecting their lives and build confidence.” They also exchanged personal stories and took time to build friendships with one another. The residents successfully completed the OSU 4 Miler and are already discussing plans for their next activities.

The YMCA of Central Ohio, one of Central Ohio’s largest nonprofit organizations and one of the nation’s most recognized brands, offers residential services to low-income adult men at its Downtown YMCA. Often on the verge of homelessness, the men are able to live in a building next to the Downtown YMCA and receive reduced rental agreements. For more information about resident services at the Downtown YMCA, please contact Amanda Owen at 614-384-2285.

YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program now available for FREE to Medicare beneficiaries

The YMCA of Central Ohio's Diabetes Prevention Program is now Free for those who qualify and are covered through Medicare. Individuals who qualify and are covered through UnitedHealthcare can still attend the courses at no cost. If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, our program provides a supportive environment where you can work with others in a small group setting to learn how to adopt healthy habits to reduce your chances of developing the disease. Click here for more information about the program and registration details.

Welcome Two New YMCA Directors

Officials at the YMCA of Central Ohio recently announced two new executive directors. Cory Hughes was named Executive Director of the Jerry L. Garver YMCA and Steve Stevenson as Executive Director of the Eldon & Elsie Ward Family YMCA.

Cory Hughes has held several positions with YMCAs in Wisconsin throughout the past eight years, most recently serving as the Member Engagement Director for the Rite Hite Family YMCA in Brown Deer, WI. He connected members with programs and helped change lives through healthy connections and relationships that created a community of long term members with vested interest in the Y.

He enjoys spending time with his wife Victoria, his daughter and two stepchildren. His hobbies include studying history and comparative literature. Welcome, Cory!

Prior to joining the YMCA of Central Ohio, Steve Stevenson managed the day-to-day operations of City Year in six different cities. He has a degree in education from Point Park College and has been actively involved with grassroots organizations for years.

"I still mentor and help guide hundreds of young people all over the country," Steve said. "I have an even bigger sense of obligation now that I’m a husband and a Father of an 11-year-old daughter. I try to set the right examples for her and every young person that I come in contact with." Welcome, Steve!

New homeless shelter to provide desperately needed help

Plans for a $5.9 million homeless shelter come with a promise that the Community Shelter Board hasn’t made in recent years: Officials vow to do away with waiting lists, and they say no one seeking refuge from the streets will be turned away.

“No human being should go unsheltered if they need shelter,” Executive Director Michelle Heritage said. “We’re ready to make that commitment.”

The board said yesterday that it has purchased a 62,000-square-foot building on 5 acres at 595 Van Buren Dr. in the West Edge Business Center, west of Downtown.

The site, formerly Columbus Paper Box, is to open next spring as a shelter for homeless men, women and families.

Shelter officials say the system needs a new, permanent shelter to handle the increase in homelessness. The building also is at the center of the board’s plans to revamp its operations for homeless adults and improve case management so that people don’t become homeless again.

“About 40 percent of women and 60 percent of men return to shelter,” Heritage said. “The average number is 3.4 times.”

She said the new shelter will serve as an intake point for newly homeless adults, be the new home for Rebecca’s Place women’s shelter, create space for extra beds during severe weather and make room to put up parents and children when the YWCA Family Center is over capacity.

Rebecca’s Place “served women from a dilapidated, crumbling facility that outlived its space years ago,” said Antonio Caffey of Southeast Inc., which manages the 47-bed women’s shelter on the East Side. The new site will afford clients more dignity and a safer environment, he said.

Kristen Daam, a case manager at Rebecca’s Place, said women have sometimes waited two weeks to get a shelter bed. “That’s too long to be out in the elements,” she said.

The board said it paid $2.3 million for the building. About $1 million comes from money that the city of Columbus previously gave the shelter board, and $1.3 million is through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

Rehabilitation of the site is expected to cost about $3.6 million, with $1.7 million to come from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and $1.9 million through private fundraising.

“The agency has made more dollars available for homeless initiatives as we realize what a serious issue it is in the state of Ohio,” said Arlyne Alston, a spokeswoman for the finance agency.

The shelter board no longer has a lease on a building in Franklin Township that housed its overflow beds last winter. The location, next to a children’s day-care center, triggered controversy and a lawsuit. Shelter Board spokeswoman Sara Loken said any overflow this winter will need to be handled at existing shelters.

The YMCA of Central Ohio, YWCA Columbus and Southeast Inc. are to operate the new shelter. When complete, it will have 67 beds for women, 45 for men, room to add up to 138 overflow beds for single adults as needed, and 20 overflow beds for families with children.

Community meetings to discuss the plan are to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and next Thursday at LifeCare Alliance, 670 Harmon Ave.

Link to Article


Local YMCA introduces new director, programs

The Gahanna/John E. Bickley YMCA's new executive director said he wants residents to know more of the story about their Y.

"We want to be known as a partner and collaborator to help when needed," Paul Westenheffer said. "When looking at planning, consider us. We need to hear from folks."

Westenheffer, who comes to the Gahanna branch after being director at the Hilltop Y, said he believes in the YMCA's mission to serve the whole community through programs that express Judeo-Christian principles and build a healthy spirit, mind and body.

Of the YMCA's 12 facilities in central Ohio, he said, Gahanna's serves the most clients -- more than 12,000 members.

"It can touch everyone in the community," Westenheffer said. "Anyone can be connected. The usage it gets is unbelievable, with 30-35,000 walk-throughs a month."

He said the largest program at Gahanna's 38,000-square-foot facility is swim lessons. Every seven weeks, 450 kids are taught how to swim, he said. The Y offers six sessions per year, Westenheffer said.

In addition to the indoor/outdoor pool and therapy pool, the facility features a full-size gymnasium, a fitness center and a multiuse room. Area off-site locations are the group exercise and fitness center at Clark Hall and day camp at the New Horizons Community Church.

With Gahanna's senior center and city pools slated for possible closure, pending the outcome of November's income-tax measure, Westenheffer said, opportunities are being explored whereby the Y might be able help.

"We like to view everything we do here as portable," he said. "Most of what we do here we can take on the road -- take it to a church or a city field."

A new program offering at the Y will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. The program is called "Parents Night Out for Special Needs Families."

"There are challenges with special-needs families," said Michael Sponhour, a Gahanna YMCA advisory board member.

For the past six months, the Gahanna Y also has offered Silver Sneakers, a program to help older adults take greater control of their health by encouraging physical activity and offering social events.

"We had over 3,000 Silver Sneaker visits last month," Westenheffer said. "I think that's significant."

The Gahanna Y also is a training location for Navy SEALS preparations.

Westenheffer said a retired Navy veteran there pushes young men through intensive training every weekday morning in preparation for the challenge to become a Navy SEAL.

"There are all these awesome things this Y has," he said. "I want to get the message out."

Sponhour said enough hasn't been done to tell what all is going on at the Y.

"The YMCA is also a social-service organization," he said. "We do a lot to help people. There are a lot of great fitness centers. We go beyond that."

In November, the Gahanna Y offers "One Meal at a Time," a program involving some of the Y's 100 volunteers who will deliver about 60 Thanksgiving meals and food vouchers.

"Everything the Y does comes back to a common tie," he said. "The Y can touch everyone."

In March 2014, the Gahanna YMCA will celebrate a decade of serving the local community.

Link to Article


Y Staff recognized for commitment to Child Care

Congratulations to Nancy Brody (pictured on the right), Metropolitan School-Age Quality Education Resource Director for the YMCA of Central Ohio, who received an award from the Educational Council for her commitment and dedication to the field of School Age Child Care and her work on the Off To A Great Start Conference each year. Nancy received this special award during this year's Off To a Great Start Conference.

Becky Ciminillo, Executive Director of Child Care, said, "She always represents the Y in a great way to the community. I am very proud to work with her."

Bringing Healthy Habits Home

The Y is working to provide the healthiest environment possible for your children, and we also want to help you build a healthy home for your family.

Here are some tips:

  1. Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Turn off electronics and enjoy each other’s company.
  2. Make it easy for everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three options. Mix and match fresh, frozen and canned.
  3. Let family members serve themselves during meals to increase understanding of portion sizes and health food choices.
  4. Get moving daily with moderate to vigorous activities! Play music and dance after dinner or take a family walk. Make physical activity part of your normal routines by walking or biking to work or school.
  5. Make water your first drink choice at meals.

District, Y partner to keep kids on track in summer

Program focuses on nutritional, fitness needs as well as academic
ThisWeek Community News
Wednesday July 31, 2013 12:35 PM

The YMCA of Central Ohio is collaborating with the South-Western City School District to offer programs at four district schools this summer that combine reading and academic enhancement with youth enrichment activities.

"We've done programs for the district in the past, but this is the first time we've done a full-blown program that intertwines enrichment activities during the afternoon and an academic-based literacy program in the morning," said Nancy Brody, metropolitan school-age quality education research director for the YMCA.

The program originally was slated for Stiles Elementary School only, Brody said.

The Stiles sessions are being funded through a $30,000 grant from Y in the USA, the YMCA's national organization, she said.

"Stiles was selected for this program because of a combination of being a low-income school with a very high rate of free and reduced(-price) lunches plus a large number of English as a Second Language students," Brody said.

The school district asked if the YMCA would be willing to help organize summer programs at three other schools: Harmon and Prairie Lincoln elementary schools and Franklin Woods Intermediate School, she said. The activities at those three schools are being funded by the school district.

The YMCA has hired district teachers to conduct the morning educational sessions while Y employees mostly handle the afternoon enrichment program, Brody said.

At the elementary schools, students in kindergarten and first grade spend the morning working on their reading, writing and math skills, she said.

The reading work is designed in part to help students prepare for being able to meet the state's new third-grade reading guarantee and/or to keep their reading skills from falling behind while school is out for the summer, Brody said.

ESL students also are able to work on improving their English speaking skills, she said.

"We're trying to keep students and their teachers from having to take time at the start of the school year to catch up after the long summer," Brody said.

Students entering the fourth and fifth grades also are working to improve and maintain their reading skills at Franklin Woods, she said.

In the afternoon, students participate in a variety of enrichment activities, including swimming lessons, educational field trips, lessons on health and nutrition and at least one hour a day of physical fitness activities.

The summer program has run each Monday through Thursday since June 24 and will end today, Aug. 1.

"I was just out at Stiles and what's great is that the staff members and the children are so enthusiastic," Brody said. "Every staff member I spoke to asked if we could please, please do this program again next year. We'd love to do it again, but it will depend on whether funding is available."

"We've been able to include a lot of fun activities, both in the morning and afternoon, so the kids don't feel like they're spending the summer at school," said Mary Schneider, the YMCA's child-care director.

The food and nutrition aspect of the program is perhaps as important as the educational and fitness components, she said.

"The children are learning about the importance of eating healthy," Schneider said. "Some of them didn't realize, for example, how important it is to drink a lot of water."

Students receive two nutritious meals and a snack at the program each day, she said.

"The staff members say they can tell some of these kids, especially on Monday after the weekend, are hungry and perhaps haven't been able to have a complete meal at home," Schneider said.

Elana Lenihan, assistant child-care director, helps to oversee the Stiles program and said she has been thrilled with the youngsters' enthusiasm.

"The kids are so excited to learn," she said early this week. "We will not be doing our testing until (July 31), but I think it's certain we'll see some real educational benefits for the students."

A total of 146 students have participated in the program at the four schools, Brody said. The program also has been open to students from other district schools located near the host sites.

Link to Article


CareSource Foundation Provides Funding for 30 Programs in Ohio

Dayton, Ohio (PRWEB) July 17, 2013

Dayton-based Foundation awards $301,000 in the second round of quarterly grants.

The CareSource Foundation recently awarded its second round of quarterly grants for 2013. The Foundation provides grants to organizations in health and human services domains with a focus on children’s health, community health issues, special needs populations, and strategies to address the medically uninsured throughout the state of Ohio.

The CareSource Foundation was created to fund non-profit programs that share the Foundation’s mission of advancing the health and well-being of underserved people in the communities they serve by providing innovative solutions and funding to address health care needs. Programs awarded grants have been chosen because of their work to promote the well-being of people they interact with as well as their dedication to creating change. Two examples of CareSource Foundation grants from this quarter include:

Eastway is the largest provider of mental and behavioral health care in Ohio and serve more than 10,000 individuals each year through a network of integrated services such as psychiatric outpatient care, primary care and pharmacy. They provide residential treatment and on-site education for adolescents. The CareSource Foundation grant of $28,500 will help support the new 22-acre Ranch of Opportunity—a safe residential treatment environment for teen girls who are victims of physical, sexual and mental abuse. The rural setting of Washington Courthouse, Ohio and the interaction with highly skilled therapists will promote healing, self-confidence and family support. Based in Montgomery County, Eastway serves individuals in 27 Ohio counties.

Homefull, formerly The Other Place, was founded in 1988 to meet the challenging needs of the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in Montgomery County. Their services include street outreach, prevention and diversion programs, micro-farming, and rapid rehousing. The $20,000 grant provided by the CareSource Foundation will support the Homefull Resource Center which helps connects individuals with social services, utility assistance, community resources, legal aid and housing-related mediation to reduce homelessness.

Additional CareSource Foundation grant recipients include:

1. Akron Children’s Hospital: $10,000 grant to provide bilingual health workers to assist with a growing Burmese and Nepali refugee resettlement community in Akron.
2. Asian Services in Action: $7,500 grant to support the comprehensive health and social services of the International Community Health Center in Cleveland.
3. Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: $7,500 grant to fund “Exhibits-to-Go” mobile health-related programming for K-8 students in 2,500 classrooms across the state of Ohio.
4. Carmella Rose Health Foundation: $3,000 grant to support a community patient navigator position for a network of 12 emergency shelters and pantries in Northeast Ohio.
5. Children’s Defense Fund: $15,000 grant to expand the Freedom Schools summer program to four sites in Dayton which will include 50 in-care foster children.
6. East End Community Services: $15,000 grant to support the Family Wellness Program which focuses on physical and emotional health education for Latino, African American and Appalachian parents in East Dayton.
7. Family Nurturing Center (Cincinnati): $10,000 grant to support services for children who are separated from a parent due to abuse, mental health disorders, substance abuse, or homelessness.
8. Franciscan Shelters: Bethany House (Toledo): $7,500 grant to support safe shelter operations for mothers and children who have experienced domestic violence.
9. Friends of Aullwood (Dayton): $10,000 grant to provide outdoor learning at the Aullwood Preschool, the first farm-based Head Start preschool in the United States.
10. Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio: $10,000 grant to help advocate for the Lucas County Initiative to Improve Birth Outcomes which includes care coordinators working directly with young mothers to ensure healthy deliveries.
11. Humility of Mary Health Partners Foundation: $10,000 grant to provide oral health screenings for children and breast cancer screenings for low-income women in the Youngstown area.
12. Mercy Neighborhood Ministries: $8,000 grant to expand home care support for low-income senior adults in Cincinnati.
13. National Alliance of Mental Illness: $6,500 grant to sustain the Multicultural Action Center which addresses disparities in mental health treatment and outreach for minorities in Cleveland.
14. New Creation Counseling Center: $15,000 grant to build capacity for health screenings and referral services for low-income adults and families in Miami County.
15. One Way Farm of Fairfield: $7,500 grant to provide a residential safe haven for abused, abandoned and neglected children throughout Ohio.
16. Oxford Free Clinic: $10,000 grant to help support low-cost primary care for the rural communities of Oxford and College Corner.
17. Suicide Prevention Center: $5,500 grant to sustain the “Project Lifesaver” K-12 suicide prevention education program for students in Montgomery and neighboring counties.
18. Suicide Prevention Education Alliance: $6,500 grant to provide “Recognizing Teen Depression and Preventing Suicide” for 16,000 students in 105 Ohio high schools in NE Ohio.
19. United Rehabilitation Services of Greater Dayton: $15,000 grant to provide a sensory-rich childcare environment for children with special needs.
20. United Way of Greater Toledo: $10,000 grant to support the “Mobile Vision Program” which provides school-based eye care services including vision exams and fittings for glasses.
21. Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio: $15,000 grant to support advocacy for high quality, accessible, affordable healthcare for all Ohioans including 1.5 million uninsured residents.
22. University District Freedom School: $7,000 grant to provide health programming and nutrition for 100 low-income students in Columbus participating in the Freedom School program.
23. Voices of Youth: $5,000 grant to support programs that work with young adults in transition from mental health treatment centers to independent living in the Trumbull County region.
24. Women Helping Young Mothers: $6,000 grant to assist young parents who are going through crisis situations including divorce, domestic violence, limited parenting skills or homelessness in Sandusky County.
25. YMCA of Central Ohio: $10,000 grant to allow the Early Childhood Resource Network to provide hearing, vision and developmental screenings for low-income children in Columbus.
26. Youth Challenge (Cleveland): $10,000 grant to provide adapted sports and recreational programs for children with physical disabilities.
27. Youth Entrepreneurship Development Foundation: $5,000 grant to fund the “Living Healthy Fit” afterschool program for 100 students in the Dayton region in partnership with NASA, the Tiger Woods Foundation and GetUp Montgomery County.
28. YWCA of Warren: $5,000 grant to launch the “Girls Circle” program to address behavioral, emotional and family issues of at-risk middle and high-school students in the Trumbull County region.

About CareSource
CareSource is a non-profit health plan headquartered in Dayton, Ohio. As one of the largest Medicaid managed care plans in the country, CareSource understands the challenges consumers face navigating the health system. We are committed to putting health care within reach for approximately 900,000 members we serve in Ohio and Kentucky.

Link to Article


614 224 9622

Corporate Caring: YMCA of Central Ohio

Jul 19, 2013, 6:00am EDT

Melissa Kossler Dutton | For Business First

As the focus of health care in the United States shifts to models based on prevention efforts and successful outcomes, leaders of the nation’s YMCA facilities see opportunities to make a difference.

Y facilities have the potential to help individuals and communities improve their health, said Andrew Roberts, president of the YMCA of Central Ohio.

Ys have the buildings, staff, equipment and passion to help people develop healthy lifestyles and prevent the onset of chronic diseases, Roberts said.
“We are positioning the YMCA to become community-based providers of evidence-based prevention efforts,” he said.

Link to Article


614 224 9622

Staying Safe in the Water

By Elissa James
Executive Director of Risk Management & Aquatics

Summer is officially here, and we are excited to have our YMCA members and families swimming at our pools. We want to make sure everyone has a safe, fun summer at the Y, so here are a few tips to keep in mind as you pack up to head to the pool.

  1. Lifeguards
    Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty. Never swim alone.
  2. Supervision
    Adults should be poolside watching kids in the water at all times. Our lifeguards are on duty, but we need your help with keeping everyone safe at the Y. Never leave a child unattended around a pool, spa, bathtub or any body of water.
  3. Life jackets
    Inexperienced swimmers should swim only using a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device and be within arm's reach of an adult at all times. The life jackets will say "USCG approved" or a similar phrase inside the vest, so look for this marking every time you use a life jacket.
  4. Reach or Throw. Don't Go.
    If you see someone in danger, try to reach to them with an object or throw an item that floats, such as a life jacket. As a non-swimmer, do not enter the water to try and help.
  5. Follow the Rules
    Follow any posted rules at the pool. They are there to protect you from harm.
  6. Brush Up on Your Skills
    Learn lifesaving skills such a CPR for adults, children, and infants. You never know when it may be needed.
  7. It's Never Too Late for Swim Lessons
    Learning to swim has the potential to save your own life or the life of someone you love. The YMCA offers lessons for all ages. Click here for more information.


Elissa James

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City Of Columbus And Casino Invest In West Side Community Fund


COLUMBUS, Ohio - Columbus City Council made its first investment into the West Side Community Fund that supports West Columbus neighborhoods around the Hollywood Casino.

$125,000 will be used to support the Hilltop YMCA.  Penn National Gaming, which runs the casino, said it matched the investment.

"We're proud to partner with Hollywood Casino to invest in the great neighborhood that surrounds it," Columbus mayor Michael Coleman said. "The Hilltop YMCA has been a valuable community resource on the West Side for more than half a century, and it is highly deserving of this first major investment."

The money helped the Hilltop YMCA expand its facilities including: new gym space, childcare area and rooms for health education and programs.
"A lot of people have talked about the west side as being a community in need," said Andrew Roberts, CEO of Central Ohio YMCA. "We're not the only solution, but we're happy to be here and offer our humble contribution to the quality of life."

Eventually, the city and casino hope to invest millions of dollars back into the community. They city wants the West Side Community Fund to hit $5 million within the next two years. The city and Penn National Gaming will split the cost to reach the goal.

Local business owner Benny Phillips said he's hoping for a spark that helps revitalize the West side.
"I know what businesses used to do here," he said. "I'd like to see it get back to that point again. And I think it can."

Link to Article


Thank you Chipotle!


Thanks to everyone for making eating a selfless act by joining us for a fundraiser to support the Hoover YMCA Park Learning Garden.

As a result, more than $3,400 was raised in support of the Hoover Y Park Learning Garden.  These funds will support education programs to help kids learn more about where their food comes from, and will also support the donation of thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to local food pantries.

Chipotle partnered with Hoover YMCA Park Learning Garden, because they think it’s important that people understand where real food is grown and where it comes from.

When we work together, the YMCA can do SO MUCH MORE for our community!

About the Garden

The Hoover YMCA Park Learning Garden is a two acre garden on YMCA property located in Lockbourne, Ohio, just south of Columbus. It is a chemical free garden that uses natural methods for pest control and weeds. The garden is a partnership between the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, the YMCA of Central Ohio and with support from Local Matters and Chipotle. The goal of the Learning Garden is to teach the community about where their vegetables come from and how they can utilize natural methods to create gardens at home.  Over 1,000 children visit the Hoover Y Park during the summer day-camp season and are involved in programs in the garden.

A wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in the garden including eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, watermelon, beans, collards, kale, spinach, arugula, many lettuce varieties, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet and hot peppers, fennel, and a variety of other culinary herbs. The garden also includes a significant variety of annual and perennial flowers, which aide in pollination of the garden.

In 2012, over 3,700 pounds of produce grown in the garden was donated to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, Faith Mission Ministries, and the St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantries.  With Chipotle's support, the Garden began its first CSA program in 2013.  For every CSA share purchased, a share is given to a family in need.  Over 100 families in need throughout central Ohio are now receiving a weekly bag of fresh fruits and veggies from the Garden.  And we're on target to surpass 4,000 pounds of produce donated to Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Faith Mission, and St. Vincent Food Pantries this year!

For more information about the garden, please contact the Hoover Y Park Executive Director, Pam Slater, at pslater@ymcacolumbus.org.



Y Camp Kids Bring Joy to Patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Saturday, June 22, campers from our St. Anthony’s summer camp site spent time making bears during the grand re-opening of Build-A-Bear at the Easton Town Center.  All the bears made were donated to the young patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to help brighten their day.  Our campers also got a chance to participate in the official ribbon cutting ceremony with “Bearemy.”  


YMCA of Central Ohio Announces New Chairman of the Board

[Columbus - May 1, 2013]  The YMCA of Central Ohio has selected Hal Keller, President, Ohio Capital Corporation as the new Chairman of its Metropolitan General Board of Trustees.  Keller was appointed to the position, which carries a two-year term on April 16, 2013, during the YMCA of Central Ohio’s annual meeting.  He will succeed Roger P. Sugarman of Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter, who completed his term as chair.

“Hal Keller is an outstanding 12 year board member and policy volunteer at the Y and we are excited and grateful for his board presidency,” said Andrew A. Roberts, President, YMCA of Central Ohio.  “On behalf of the rest of the Board of Directors and the Y, we are enthusiastic to channel Hal’s vision, humanity and love for our cause and look forward to leveraging those attributes on behalf of those we serve.”

In his capacity at the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, Keller oversees all corporate policy and fiscal affairs, including securing corporate investors for Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity funds and coordinating efforts to develop housing projects receiving equity investment from the Ohio Equity Funds.  To date, the Ohio Capital Corporation has generated more than $2.5 billion in corporate equity for LIHTC projects involving more than 600 transactions and 30,000 units of affordable housing in Ohio and Kentucky.

“The YMCA impacts the lives of thousands in central Ohio every year and I am honored to serve as chair of this important organization,” said Hal Keller, Chairman, Metropolitan General Board of Trustees.  “I am excited to continue working with the YMCA as we strengthen our programs and develop new ways to improve the quality of life in our community.”

Keller has served on the Metropolitan General Board of Trustees since 2001 and previously served on the Downtown YMCA Consulting Board.  As a long-time supporter of the Y, he was also instrumental in securing the renovation tax credit financing for the Downtown YMCA building.  His career in affordable housing spans more than 30 years as a consultant to state, local governments, an administrator of state and local housing programs, and as a neighborhood organizer and tenant advocate.  Keller holds Master of Arts degrees in Public Administration and Social Work from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Social Science from Case Western Reserve University.

For more information, contact:

Andrew A. Roberts
YMCA of Central Ohio

About the YMCA of Central Ohio

The Y is one of Central Ohio’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  We are a diverse association of men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life, joined by a shared commitment to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve our community’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support our neighbors.  As part of the fabric of Central Ohio for nearly 160 years, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.  ymcacolumbus.org.


Precor Grant Supports the YMCA of Central Ohio’s Efforts to Curb Childhood Obesity

[COLUMBUS, ARPIL 10, 2013]– The YMCA of Central Ohio received a $3,000 grant from Precor to support efforts to help children in central Ohio live healthier lives through the implementation of the Y’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in early childhood and afterschool programs.  Adopting these standards is part of the Y’s commitment to first lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America to help curb childhood obesity.

“As a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y takes its responsibility seriously, by helping those most in need,” said Andrew A. Roberts, President of YMCA of Central Ohio.  “YMCAs are one of the largest providers of early childhood and afterschool programs in the nation. Now, by adopting standards that will help our kids make better food and activity choices, we strive to be the healthiest.”

The YMCA of Central Ohio serves 2,500 children in our our child care programs each day.

All early childhood and afterschool programs are implementing the HEPA standards, which include: 

·         Establishing a minimum of expected physical activity for children of different ages enrolled in Y programs;

·         Defining food and beverages offerings, including designating water as the primary beverage during snack times and offering fruits and vegetables as snack options;

·         Limiting the amount of screen time  (watching TV, playing video games, and using computers);

·         Encouraging breastfeeding of infants in the Y’s care; and

·         Committing Ys to conducting parent education to encourage healthy behaviors at home.

“Like the Y,Precor believes that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health, our neighbors, and our community,” said Paul Byrne, President. “By collaborating, we have a greater potential to help more people make positive lifestyle choices.”

The YMCA of Central Ohio is one of 50 YMCAs to receive a grant from Precor as part of the $300,000 gift to YMCA of the USA, the resource office for the nation’s YMCAs, to support the implementation of the HEPA standards in YMCA early childhood and afterschool programs.  Locally the funding will be used to support infrastructure opportunities such as purchasing supplies and equipment, and staff trainings that can help the YMCA to provide a healthy sustainable environment in an early childhood or afterschool site.

About Precor
Precor designs and builds premium fitness equipment for effective workouts that feel smooth and natural.  Our equipment is chosen by health clubs, hotels, spas and individuals all over the world.  For nearly three decades, we’re driven fitness forward with a passionate focus on ergonomic motion, proven science, and superior engineering.  We constantly study and anticipate the needs of the people and organizations we serve, and continually redefine the levels of innovation, quality and service necessary to deliver the very best fitness experiences – all with the goal of improving the ways people improve themselves.  precor.com

About the YMCA of Central Ohio

The Y is one of Central Ohio’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  We are a diverse association of men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life, joined together by a shared commitment to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve our community’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support our neighbors.  As part of the fabric of Central Ohio for nearly 160 years, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.  ymcacolumbus.org.


Becky Ciminillo

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Siblings of those with disabilities tackle life, fun in tandem

By  Rita Price
The Columbus Dispatch Monday April 8, 2013 8:56 AM
BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio — The tandem swing goes so high it requires harnesses and a hoist, plus safety helmets and nerve. More than a few of the would-be riders looked up — 34 feet up, to be exact — and balked.

Barb Sapharas listened to the coaching that ensued and smiled. Each set of swing partners were siblings, one with a lifelong disability and one without, ready again to laugh and love each other through something scary.

“Pretty cool,” said Sapharas, board chairman of Ohio SIBS, an organization for adult siblings of people with developmental disabilities and their families.

SIBS members and staff from Ohio State University’s Nisonger Center on Disabilities hosted a retreat for the sibling pairs over the weekend at YMCA Camp Willson, home of the giant swing.

See more photos from the Ohio SIBS retreat

Tom Fish, director of social work and family support services at Nisonger, said the retreat is the only one in the nation that mixes fun with a focus on transition, teaching the typical siblings how they can best help their brothers and sisters make the transition to adult services, employment and independent living.

“Those things will determine the rest of her life — her happiness,” said Michelle Long, whose 17-year-old sister, Julia Truby, has Down syndrome. “I want to influence that.”

The brothers and sisters of people with disabilities don’t often participate in early planning and service arrangement, Sapharas said, then face a steep learning curve if they inherit responsibility after parents pass away. Better to keep everyone in the fold from the beginning, she said.

“Siblings are the longest relationships in life,” she said. “I like to say we’re the first friend and the first playmate, although maybe not by choice. We’re the first tormenters. And probably their first advocates.”

Paige and Hanna McCaslin, 17-year-old twins, tackled the giant swing the same way they approach lots of tasks — with hands clasped. Hanna has autism; Paige does not.

“We’re still the other half of each other,” Paige said. “We’re super, super tight. Without her, I’d be crushed.”

Paige has seen and heard her share of not-so-nice teens who pick on people who are different. Because of Hanna, she could never be one of them.

“Without her, I might be that person,” Paige said. “She makes me better.”

Anthony Cummerlander, 19, told his sister to take a picture of him before he got on the swing and send it to their mom. He felt that he was doing a very “Gonzo” thing, a reference to the beloved Muppet character tucked in his jacket.

Lauren Cummerlander, 22, enjoyed their swing session. “It’s kind of like being shot out of a cannon, I think,” she said.

But she was grateful for the retreat’s serious side and the chance to talk in depth about how she and other typical siblings can help chart futures. “You know it’s coming someday,” Lauren said of her role.

Oftentimes, of course, the siblings with disabilities need no help at all. Tables turn.

“Kyle!” yelled his sister, Alison McKay, as she was strapped into the harness for the swing. “ Why are you making me do this?”

“Because,” said Kyle, who has Down syndrome. “It’s good for you.”

Link to Article


Cooks with a purpose serve food for thought

By  Kevin Joy
The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday April 2, 2013 9:04 AM
Beneath a string of bright paper lanterns, 20 guests dined on mismatched vintage china around a long table made of reclaimed wood. 

Pitchers of grapefruit cocktails and locally made spirits were offered. Old records of Italian pop songs played on a stereo. 

The comfortable scene with its cool guests suggested a hip magazine spread on entertaining.

Yet, aided by an unlikely group of line cooks, the setting inside the frills-free Downtown YMCA reflected a deeper purpose.

Graduates of Catch Court — a Franklin County program that helps prostitutes kick abusive men, drugs and the related lifestyle — prepared a high-end menu of celery-root salad, garlic soup, chorizo and honeycomb flan.

The gourmet food puts a face on Freedom a la Cart, which employs eight people part time.

“It’s showing that these women, some of them who have never worked in the kitchen or held a job on paper before, are capable of creating this elevated product,” said executive chef Lara Yazvac, formerly of the Northstar Cafe.

Profits from the meal — at $50 a person — benefited Doma, a nonprofit that helps survivors of human trafficking.

In business since 2011, Freedom a la Cart ranks among other little-known food operations throughout central Ohio whose menus are seasoned with large helpings of charity.

Here’s a sampling of the outreach efforts and their diverse culinary offerings:

Furthering a mission
The owner of Boujhetto’s doesn’t consider her business a restaurant.

It is, as a vibrant mural declares, “A Marlene Carson Vision.”

The vision extends to her daily homemade spread of soul food, featuring marshmallow-topped yams, pickles marinated in Kool-Aid, and beef brisket made from her mother’s recipe.

A closer look around the establishment at 2458 Cleveland Ave. reveals an altruistic mission: A window poster alerts passers-by to the plague of modern slavery.

Another by the cash register depicts police photos of battered women and girls trapped in the sex trade.

Boujhetto’s — whose name merges bougie (French for “candle”) and ghetto — serves cuisine as a means to support Rahab’s Hideaway, Carson’s safe house for exploited women.

All nine female employees, who are paid for their work, are survivors of human trafficking.

“With funding so limited, this is another way to help,” said Carson, 50, a Columbus native who was led into prostitution as an eighth-grader and, as an adult, became an advocate for women who face similar problems. Tylondia Pruitt, a Boujhetto’s cook, joked about how she “didn’t know how to boil water for eggs” until last year. Since then, the 29-year-old said, she has “learned how to provide for my family” of two children.

Carson, recently featured on Oprah Winfrey’s official website, plans to expand her payroll — and her reach — with a food truck in the summer.

Despite the dire circumstances that inspired the business, mealtime remains a happy time.

“When you come in,” said Carson, 50, “I want you to feel love and family.”

Feeding the masses
Catering in the name of charity can prove effective, too. For a decade, LifeCare Alliance has operated the for-profit LA Catering inside the group’s West Side facility on Harmon Avenue.

It shares a kitchen with Meals-on-Wheels but might offer more upscale eats, such as rosemary-shrimp skewers and romaine salad with ahi tuna.

Stemming largely from wedding parties and corporate orders, earnings support the nonprofit, which helps senior citizens with services such as cancer screenings, a food pantry and domestic-violence prevention.

“The vast majority of folks like that they know where the money’s going,” CEO Chuck Gehring said.

Lauren Wilson, general manager of Freshbox Catering, agreed.

A philanthropic connection resonates with customers , said Wilson, whose Downtown operation is owned by Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio .

With guidance and training, homeless residents of the Faith Mission shelter prepare gourmet sandwiches and salads for box lunches — with bulk orders bound for customers ranging from corporations to church groups.

Workers are paid and receive counseling to help secure jobs in the hospitality industry.

Some clients choose Freshbox for its menu. And plenty of others do so for the food.

“We don’t expect anyone to make a concession on quality and service just because we have a great social mission,” said Wilson, adding that 22 Freshbox alumni have found permanent employment and housing since 2010.

“But it definitely gives us an edge.”

Making a mark
A similar edge has helped Freedom a la Cart expand beyond its original venture: a food cart that travels to festivals and is expected to return Downtown this spring.

(Standard street meat, it isn’t: The cart has featured chimichurri roast beef, white-bean empanadas, sweet-potato soup and ginger lemonade.)

In July, the cooks inhabited an old commercial kitchen in the YMCA, 40 W. Long St. Prep work was previously done at Double Happiness, a Brewery District bar.

The permanence has helped birth a lunch counter on the Y’s first floor as well as a growing catering business that has fed, among others, Gov. John Kasich and executives of the United Way and Women’s Fund of Central Ohio.

And the supper club, introduced in January, will continue: Dinners are planned for Friday and Saturday, with RSVP details on Facebook.

During the last such gathering, attendees knew that their money would support Doma outreach (and help pay the staff), but that back story wasn’t discussed at the table.

North Side resident Nick Nelson, 31, viewed the meal as atypical advocacy — “a neat way to address . . . a problem right in our backyard.”

Missions needn’t preach, said Freedom a la Cart founder Julie Clark, but positive messages can be marketable.

With her staff as proof, she envisions a series of franchised restaurants.

“The survivors we employ,” Clark said, “are capable of anything.”


Link to Article


How to Handel loiterers? Give ’em a blast of the classics

By  Kevin Joy
The Columbus Dispatch Sunday March 24, 2013 9:11 AM
On a recent Tuesday evening, two men were arguing on the sidewalk outside the Downtown YMCA.

As the exchange grew more heated, Sue Darby turned up the volume on a set of speakers affixed to the building exterior.

The defuser: Antonio Vivaldi.

The delicate orchestral strains of the Four Seasons concertos prompted the opponents to walk away.

“I feel like it’s a positive approach,” said Darby, executive director of the Y, at 40 W. Long St. “People don’t tend to stand around. There’s a sense of security.”

Since January at the Y, an iPod loaded with classical music has played repeatedly from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily.

The speakers on the building were donated by the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, which represents Downtown property owners.

Although such a soundtrack might be regarded as a pleasant diversion — a welcome cultural boost, even — by many people, another motive is at play.

The music is designed as a social deterrent.

A recent survey of Y fitness-center members revealed concerns about sidewalk loitering, which the 400 residents of the facility aren’t allowed to do. A rooming house across the street and an adjacent mental-health center sometimes exacerbate the clusters, Darby said.

The unorthodox sonic approach isn’t new.

Some Short North residents have come to know the classical repertoire blasting outside the United Dairy Farmers store at 900 N. High St.

Although a manager on duty said the practice, about a year old, has “done what it’s supposed to do,” shopper Daveione Fluellen said he continues to see panhandlers hanging around.

Still, “It’s peaceful,” said Fluellen, 20, as a Mozart selection played in the background.Officials at the corporate offices of UDF didn’t respond to three messages left by The Dispatch regarding the music.

Cleve Ricksecker, who lives in Victorian Village, considers the classical sounds a blessing.

“They used to have what appeared to be some petty drug dealers hanging out in front” of the convenience store, said Ricksecker, executive director of both the Capital Crossroads and Discovery special-improvement districts.

“All those people just disappeared when the speakers went up.”

His hunch: “There’s something about baroque music that macho wannabe-gangster types hate. At the very least, it has a calming effect.”

The theory might have some merit.

Daniel Levitin, a psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal and author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, said reactions depend on people’s tastes.

When he used scanners to monitor brain activity, a subject’s amygdala — the part of the brain governing emotions that can initiate a fight-or-flight response — was triggered after hearing music perceived to be unpleasant.

Whether one dislikes classical works or classic rock, Levitin said, audio aversion is far more innate than, say, negative visual stimuli because “there isn’t much you can do to get out of its way other than moving yourself.”

A crescendo effect seems evident.

Strains of opera and choral tunes have permeated a city train station in Portland, Ore, for more than two years — resulting in a reduction in service calls for help, The Oregonian reported. Similar success has been noted by small businesses in Seattle.

In New York, a public-spaces planning group touted such sounds as a boost to “overall ambience” at the city’s Port Authority bus station.

And, in Minneapolis, classical music was added last year to a troublesome light-rail vestibule as part of a “suite” of upgrades that included better lighting, security cameras and an increased police presence.

John Siqveland, spokesman for the Minneapolis Metro Transit system, said the situation has improved. Although he couldn’t quantify the direct effect of Beethoven, he called the aural component “fast, cheap and easy.”

One rider, he said, sent email to request the playlist.

Ricksecker has proposed installing speakers that play classical music at several Downtown Columbus spots known to attract loiterers, but he said property owners declined the offer.

COTA spokesman Brian Hoyt said the city’s public-transit authority hasn’t considered playing classical music at bus stops or inside vehicles, citing a lack of need.

And, he added: “It’s impossible to determine one type of music our passengers would like or dislike."

What might it say about society when fine arts are used as a weapon?

The Columbus Symphony declined to comment. So did folks at classical radio station WOSA (101.1 FM).

But Timothy Russell, the outgoing music director of ProMusica, sees the debate from both sides — with an opportunity, he hopes, for an unintended outcome.

“First of all, I am always happy when people are listening to classical music,” said Russell, who is set to retire this summer after 34 seasons, “but I am sorry if people want to use it as a social deterrent.“

Part of me might hope that they actually just sit around and keep listening.”

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Grove City YMCA Launches Diabetes Prevention Program

GROVE CITY, Ohio - The YMCA of Central Ohio is one of 17 groups across the country to participate in a project to reduce diabetes.

The Grove City YMCA launched its prevention program on Wednesday.

Under the program, participants at risk for Type 2 diabetes gets weekly lessons on nutrition and fitness to help reduce the chance for the disease.

The 16-week program has a goal of reducing each participant's weight by seven percent.

"It's really fun," said Andrew Roberts of the YMCA of Central Ohio. "It's not a diet. It's not something that is difficult to participate in. It's really about changing the way people think about their behavior."

The pilot program is an effort to reduce the cost of diabetes to taxpayers in the form of health care costs.

Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for more information.

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Downtown Columbus YMCA Stands Tall, Serves All

by Walker

At 91 years old, the Downtown YMCA in Columbus stands as one of the city’s more ornate historic buildings that has stood the test of time. Its dark bricks and decorative stonework symbolizes the level of attention to detail that is a part of the mission of the YMCA when making a long-lasting impact upon the community.

Inside the YMCA is a similar story. Health and wellness are obviously at the core of the facility, but some people may not be aware of how the many different types of programs and services reach across multiple socioeconomic levels and positively affect so many people in different ways.

We spoke recently with Sue Darby, the new Executive Director of the Downtown Branch of the YMCA to find out more about the history of the building as well as the services and programs offered within.

Walker Evans: To start, what can you tell us about the history of the YMCA in Columbus?

Sue Darby: In the 1890′s, men didn’t just “go to the Y,” they belonged to it, became part of it. Although branches of sorts existed at The Ohio State University and the old Union Station, there was no YMCA facility for men to go to for physical exercise, a class, or quiet reading time. All of that changed in 1893 with the opening of the original Central YMCA on Third Street, Downtown, the first of many dedicated facilities the Association would own and operate in the years to come.

The YMCA’s evolving and rather simplistic reputation as a “health club” was already evident in its turn-of-the-century facilities. In 1922, the Downtown YMCA located at 40 West Long Street was born. However, it offered far more than physical fitness to its membership of young working men, many of whom were new to city life and often undereducated. Anxious to learn, the men joined discussion groups and frequented the building’s extensive library. The YMCA’s classes in business and trades were eventually recognized as the YMCA Schools, which still exists today as Franklin University.

As the Association grew in membership, so did its geographical reach. The YMCA established a presence in the city’s South Side, then a bustling center of local industry, to serve the large number of factory and steel mill workers there. Also, the YMCA began acquiring open land in earnest, south of Columbus and as far away as Bellefontaine, in anticipation of its first forays into camping, particularly for youth — a YMCA tradition to this day.

WE: In more recent years, there’s been a renewed emphasis on Downtown revitalization through residential development, retail businesses and public infrastructure investment. What role does the YMCA play as a Downtown anchor?

SD: Because of the central location of our Y, we have been able to connect all the districts together: Short North, Old Towne, Clintonville, Franklinton. With the growing young adult population living Downtown, we have seen such a growth. They want to join a movement – something more than a gym but a mission minded organization that gives back to their community.

The City has always asked us to the table in big discussions. Since our successful supportive housing program (over 600 men are provided a home), we were asked to help with the shelter system. Two years ago we opened an overflow shelter unit that provides bed for 190 men and women that live off the land.

We also are the leaders in Diabetes Prevention Program – looked at nationally for our success.

WE: What types of services, events and programming does the YMCA offer that most people don’t know about?

SD: The supportive housing mentioned above and our Diabetes Prevention Program. We also have our Positive Alternative Learning for Students (PALS) program that’s housed at our branch. PALS is a structured and supervised environment for students who have been suspended from school. Students who are on 3, 5, and 10 day suspensions are referred to PALS by local public school systems, juvenile courts, departments of human services and parents. We had over 1,500 different kids come through our doors last school year.

We also have the Corporate Challenge – play to give. Through sports and recreation events, we bring employees of local businesses together.

Corporate wellness is another program. We offer corporate health and wellness programming t match the needs of companies, large or small. We are in partnership with Children’s Hospital, AEP, State Auto, Grange and many others.

WE: When talking about health and fitness services, what differentiates the YMCA from gyms or other fitness facilities?

SD: First, we are a non-profit. So memberships bring about meaningful change, not just within yourself, but in the community. Also, all group exercise classes are included in membership and we offer Membership For All, which means we base your membership rate off your income. We want everyone to have a Y experience.

WE: I’ve heard about potential plans for converting the building to have a rooftop garden where vegetables could be grown. Can you tell us more about that concept?

SD: A rooftop garden is a dream we hope to bring into reality. It not only will provide 400 pounds of fresh produce to our 403 residents, but it will give our men an opportunity to take care of garden. We want to continue our cause in strengthening the community.

Q: Anything else you want to add about the Downtown YMCA… past, present or future?

A: We will continue to be the leaders in chronic disease. We have our Livestrong program that focuses on cancer survivors, our New U that helps kids that our medically obese find hope and success, and our diabetes prevention/management classes.

For more information, visit ymcacolumbus.org/downtown


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