Written by: Buckley Smith & Devin Roherty
Interviews conducted by: Buckley Smith & Devin Roherty
Video editing by: Tyler Penney
When looking through organizations in Belleville that have had a beneficial impact on the community, many stand out. Among these sparkling organizations one stands out as a shining beacon. That would be the YMCA, or as it is more affectionately known as the “Y”. This is an organization full of people who care only about the individuals who use their facilities. With no worry for personal gain, they simply care about the betterment of their “clients” if you could call them that.
History of the YMCA in Canada
The YMCA has had a long and storied history here in our fair country of Canada. In fact the first YMCA was established in Montreal over 150 years ago. Since the first YMCA was established in 1851, it has grown massively to include roughly 1000 locations all throughout this country.
What was first designed to be something to teach religious beliefs to children in an attempt to better their lives, it has evolved into a less religion-oriented organization, and has become a much more lifestyle-oriented program. What it has morphed into is somewhere that truly focuses on teaching healthy living through exercise and social interaction.
History of the YMCA in Belleville
While the Belleville location has moved buildings many times, it was first established in 1915. It currently resides at the address of 433 Victoria Avenue in Belleville Ontario. Its facilities boast a full gym to work out in, a basketball court and full pool facilities. All these facilities are provided at a very reasonable rate, along with options for payment plans for those that do not have the means to pay for their normal rates.On top of this it also provides day care at a very discounted rate, which helps parents who can not afford normal day care.
The location in Belleville is run mainly by a man by the name of David Allen. While overseeing a vast majority of the operations of the Belleville location, he also oversees a few other YMCAs in the surrounding area.
Goals of the YMCA in Belleville
While the YMCA caters to all ages of individuals, it truly focuses its time on improving the lives of young people in the community. It aims to do this through 3 main imperatives. Those 3 would be the following: healthy lifestyle teaching, social skills building and a sense of community and inclusion.
When one thinks of healthy lifestyle the first thing that pops to mind is exercise and physical activity. And this is something that is not only preached at the “Y” but also taught. Along with their outstanding workout facilities, basketball facilities and pool facilities, they also provide personal trainers to those who wish to have one. Once again, as everything else they provide, this comes at a very reasonable rate.
These trainers not only provide them with encouragement and motivation, but also give them a regular workout schedule to keep them on track in their goals. On top of these workout regimens, these trainers try help the people out by creating them a regimen in which to base their diets off of, furthering their healthy lifestyle.
On top of just the workout facilities, the fact that they also have basketball facilities and a place to swim, really make sure anybody can keep up with their exercise. Some people may be embarrassed about lifting weights in front of other individuals who may be more adept at it, so with the swimming and basketball it really provides alternative methods to stay fit.
By having young people and older individuals exercising in the same facilities, it truly shows the younger ones the benefit of instilling this healthy lifestyle. If they can see how it benefits people who have been doing it their whole lives, they may be more inclined to continue it in their own lives.
While the “Y” is mainly a fitness oriented facility, it also believes that it truly teaches young people the social skills to be decent, hard working and involved members of their communities. Many young people only ever experience being social with the group of friends they have been with for most of their lives. Sometimes those groups of friends are not the best influence on their lives. So having the chance to be around people who like them are aiming to improve their lives, can give them a whole new perspective on who they feel they should be spending time with. Having people with a positive outlook on life can really have a huge impact.
Along with that, keeping kids off the streets is a major factor of the “Y”. Many young people are left with much too much time on their hands. And through a combination of bad people in their lives and this excess time, many bad decisions can be made. While all of us have made at least one or two bad decisions in their lives, in many a case these decisions can lead to more bad decisions, creating a slippery slope. So in an attempt to prevent lives being ruined, the YMCA hopes to install a community that kids can be involved in, hoping that they will continue to improve their lives in this community.
Sense of Community and Belonging
As was previously mentioned some kids may be in less fortunate social situations, but along with this many kids may have no social situation at all. They may come from bad families, leaving them with an empty hole in their lives. By providing accessible facilities these kids will always feel included at the YMCA. Like previously stated the “Y” allows for people without the financial means to figure out a way to acquire a membership. By allowing anybody who has the will to come a way to come, nobody will ever feel discluded.
The kids who have never felt a part of anything, now can feel a part of something truly inspiring.
It has been mentioned many times already, but a very important aspect of the YMCA is the ability to be flexible with payment for membership. Either through reduced rates, or deferred payments, nobody will ever be turned down for financial reasons. The lady in charge of these payment plans is Jennifer Johnstone.
The YMCA is under the umbrella of the United Way, but it also is mainly funded through local charities and organizations in the community who believe in what the “Y” is doing. One of those organizations is Tim Hortons, who run many fundraisers to bring money into the YMCA.
Along with the outside financing they do receive many donations from members and civilians alike. They also run many events that while are provided for free, do accept donations. One such event is the Santa Claus pancake breakfast they are funning this Saturday, the 13th, from 8:00 a.m. through 11:30 a.m. At this event they will they be providing free breakfast, being served by important influential people in the community. Along with this the children will have a chance to hang out with Santa, taking pictures and talking to him, which can be a very happy time in many children’s lives.
Although many of the varying degrees of impact the YMCA has, what is better then hearing it from someone who has used the facilities for quite a while and has seen the positive impact it has had on his life?
So here you go, a final video to provide a true view of what the “Y” can do.
Ladies and gentlemen Christian Krauser.