”People talk to me at the Y, and that doesn’t always happen. People are afraid to talk to people with disabilities.”

Every Tuesday and Thursday without fail, you will see Mary Hiland and her guide dog Dora at the Gahanna/ John E. Bickley YMCA - swimming in the pool or ‘rewarding’ herself with a relaxing dip in the hot tub.

“I have found that swimming is a really good exercise. It relaxes me and is something I can do independently.”

Although Mary is blind, she has never let that stop her from being as independent as possible.

Since joining the Y in 2015, both her independence and sense of inclusion within her community have been strengthened.

“At the Y, I have something very constructive to do. It’s not just the exercise, it’s the people to talk to... It’s fun to go to the Y to see the people I see every Tuesday and Thursday, it’s fun to chat before and after my workout... that’s almost as important as the workout itself.”

Mary credits the friendly and caring staff as well as her fellow members for making her experience what it is. She appreciates them not only for helping her when she needs it but for simply talking to her like a person.

“If not for the YMCA, I would be very limited in the exercise I could do for my body and the social interaction with people in my community.”


Focus on Healthy Aging and Chronic Disease Prevention

In 2017, of the 787,033 people Columbus 137,542 are 55 and older.* As the baby boomer generation continues to age, we are committed to doing our part to help them do it in the best way possible by offering a variety of programs for our Active Older Adults to get healthy and stay healthy.

LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA is a 12 week small group program offered at no cost to participants. It focuses on improving the mind, body and spirit of those living with, through or beyond cancer. 1 in 3 American adults has prediabetes.

YMCA’S Diabetes Prevention Program is a no-cost, year-long program dedicated to reversing prediabetes through various lifestyle changes.

OhioHealth Delay the Disease is a Parkinson’s exercise program aimed to empower balance and mobility through an evidence based movements to improve mobility, minimize fatigue and reduce rigidity. A variety of classes are offered to give Active Older Adults the opportunity to try different exercises to keep them moving at a pace that’s right for them.

Beyond programs and classes, we offer a community atmosphere that may be just as important as a healthy lifestyle.

*Source:, Columbus Community Profile, 2017
** Source: Nearly 1 in 5 People Have a Disability in the U.S., Census Bureau Reports, 2012