The YMCA is a cornerstone of community support, responding to current community needs with vital and accessible programs and services. The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t change that. In response to the pandemic, to keep our members and staff safe, the YMCA closed the doors of our vibrant Centres of Community where normally hundreds of members find a safe and inclusive place to work out, utilize services, learn new skills, and connect in-person every day. And while our centres have responsibly remained closed through Phase 1 and into Phase 2 of the pandemic, we have worked hard to deliver new and adapted services to keep serving community needs and fostering belonging and connection for many.
One of the ways that the Y has shown up in community is by providing childcare services to essential services workers so they can continue their vital work. As the largest provider of child care in the BC, the Y is working in collaboration with the Government of BC to provide essential child care services to first responders, health care professionals, and essential service workers. We’ve also increased our supports for especially vulnerable children during this time, with additional resources for trauma support, special needs support, healthy food bags, and more.
Online Support at YMCAhome.ca
Another way we’ve adapted our services to support the health and wellbeing of people is through free access to YMCAhome.ca, an ever-expanding website that offers free YMCA services online. Our community has been using Y Play to keep kids and families learning and engaged online, teens and youth have accessed mental wellness supports through Y Well, and Y Thrive has helped Canadians across the country keep physically active while learning new ways to exercise from home.
Showing up for our community means more than only adapting our existing programs and services. We want to ensure that nobody slips through the cracks of support, and for us, that means focusing on fostering connection. Our Teen and Youth Mindfulness programs have moved online so we can continue working with anxious youth sharing important stress management techniques. We’ve developed a Call a Senior strategy to ensure our senior members are checked-in on and have the resources they need to stay healthy. We’ve also been calling our members to see how they’re doing, let them know how to find and use our new services, and understand what they would need to feel safe at the Y when we re-open.
The opportunity to connect with and support our members and participants in new ways that acknowledge their diverse challenges and needs has been a rewarding learning experience. We are so fortunate at the YCMA to have Centres of Community, like the Tong Louie YMCA and the Robert Lee YMCA that help contribute to our YMCA’s philanthropic capital. This has put us in a good position to be there for community in good times and in bad. We’ve always known that our community existed beyond the walls of a centre, but if this pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s how truly expansive, resilient, and strong our Y community is. And it has reinforced how being there for community is at the core of who we are.
The Y’s Covid-19 Community Response is helping people: