YMCA Adapts to a New Year by Helping the Community Thrive in Difficult Times
January at the North Suburban YMCA is typically one of its busiest months, with members filling the facility's weight rooms, fitness classes, and pool. With restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the Y has been busy adapting its facilities and programs to meet the needs of the community while adhering to strict safety protocols.
While the pandemic may have caused some shifts in Y programming, a wealth of new wellbeing initiatives are now underway including the popular Adult Education Series with virtual and live options; the launch of the Virtual Y, a new membership-only resource that ensures community members can access their favorite classes and programming online; and the "Remote Learning" program for 2nd to 8th grade students and special needs students. The Virtual Y is a new membership category and is available to anyone for $10 per month.
"Our goal is keeping our community connected, active, and healthy," said the North Suburban YMCA's CEO Kathy Fielding. "The Virtual Y takes our Y beyond our walls, making it easy and convenient for members to continue their wellness journey while at home, connecting members, families, and kids, not only physically but mentally. We have over 53 years of experience delivering relevant programming, changing as times change, and this year was certainly a great example of how quickly we can pivot."
Modifying class and program schedules have been key to the continued success of keeping the Y community connected. As of January 19 when Cook County moved to Tier 2 mitigations, the Y is now able to offer both in-person and virtual options. For participants who choose to come to the YMCA in person, strict CDC guidelines and the guidelines and recommendations of state and local government authorities are in place.
The Y's winter offerings include a new selection of virtual children's classes and workshops that help promote wellness and healthy living. Highlights include the "One and Done" art workshops, Mini Movers Dance for ages 3-5, "Jokin' Around" Comedy Class for 1st-5th Graders, the Girl Scout Badge Programs, and "Expedition Mars" in the SmartLab for 1st-5th Graders.
The Y's 2021 Summer Camp registration is open and features over 40 general and special interest day camps for children in pre-K through junior high school. Following strict guidelines by YMCA of the USA, the American Camp Association, the CDC, and state and local authorities, the Y successfully facilitated its 2020 summer camps without a single case of COVID -19.
Since so much of the Y's efforts go towards serving others, anticipating needs before they arise, and creating new programs and services for those that need it most, during 2020 the Y teamed up with several local agencies to ensure that no one who needed help got left behind. Some of these initiatives included partnering with Hunger Resource Network/Hunger Free Northbrook for its Holiday Giveback initiative, collecting food donations for over 260 students and their families; donating several thousand face masks to Wheeling School District 21, Curt's Cafe, The Harbour, Roberti Community House, and the WINGS Program; and helping to "Brighten Someone's Day" for residents struggling with isolation at Covenant Living.
Whether it's live or virtual, the Y plans to continue its healthy living initiatives throughout the year hosting events such as Trivia Night, a 5K, a Family Scavenger Night, and its annual Strong Kids Fundraiser.
For more information about the North Suburban YMCA, visit www.nsymca.org
About the North Suburban YMCA
The North Suburban YMCA services Northbrook and 14 surrounding communities with programs and tools that help its residents become healthier, more connected, and confident, ensuring that everyone, regardless of age, income, or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. The NSYMCA focuses on Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility and is a charitable organization, inclusive and welcoming to all in our community. Learn more at NSYMCA.org.