Campus News News

YMCAs: More Than Mere Recreational Activities

YMCAs are like people. Spread throughout the world, many YMCAs are under-represented, misunderstood and often times brushed to the side as ‘just another gym’ or ‘a place to swim.’

Pat Kenney
Managing Editor





Pat Kenney - Campus News Editor (Meghan Zimbler/The Student)
Pat Kenney – Campus News Editor (Meghan Zimbler/The Student)

YMCAs are like people.

Spread throughout the world, many YMCAs are under-represented, misunderstood and often times brushed to the side as ‘just another gym’ or ‘a place to swim.’

However, YMCAs stand for so much more, and it saddens me that those very same misconceptions are present throughout Springfield College. Yes, there are workout and swimming facilities at YMCAs, but they don’t define them.

As a non-profit organization, the Y has three pillars which push its programing, development and most importantly, how it interacts with communities. Let’s take a journey back to 2010.

The YMCA of the USA, the head governing body of YMCAs across the country, decided to make a change. They felt the Y should have a purpose or a meaning that would push them into the forefront of social change.

After long discussions, out popped the idea to rebrand every YMCA. From changing the logo, to adding the three pillars, to revising the mission, the Y-USA knew it was time to change.

Their new mission? “The Y. So much more.” And it could not be any truer.

Growing up through the YMCA of Greater Syracuse, I found that no matter where I went or what I did, the people whom I remembered the most were from the YMCA.

The reason for this is simple. They had passion.

Passion that fueled everything they did, said, and wrote. Their passion, whatever it was, pushed them to be better human beings and that was the main focus for the rebranding back in 2010.

The Y-USA didn’t want YMCAs to fall by the wayside, they wanted them to become a social force for change, change that could inspire people, specifically the youth. Although, I am a firm believer that everyone can learn and grow no matter what their age is.

Our youth is the future. Children are the most impressionable mammals on the planet, and the Y found a way to use that to their advantage and movement towards social change.

Let’s be honest, if we really wanted change to happen, we first have to realize change does not happen in a matter of days. Second, change takes a long time to come to fruition and if it isn’t watered constantly and put in the sunlight so it can grow, then it’ll just die off and be forgotten.

For everyone that wants to make his or her future a better and brighter place, changing his or her approach might be advisable. The Y did it and continues to progress.

We should all take pages from the YMCA’s book. What they have done is target youth development specifically through the use of passion. The YMCA believes that if we can make our youth passionate about growing up in this world, then it will soon become a better place.

Putting forth programs like youth sports, Y-Teens, Youth in Government, Lego Club and so much more, helps our youth connect with each other via their passions. Leadership programs like these have a special way of connecting people and helping them understand where they want their lives to go.

Personally, growing up through the Youth in Government program was the best thing that happened to me. Although I may not have connected with the government side of it, the presenting and communication aspect sparked a fire inside me. That spark landed me at Springfield College, where passion falls from trees.

Back in 2010, that is what the dream was. The YMCA of the USA wanted to light a fire in youth and all their members to make a change or be the change. The YMCA is no longer just a ‘gym and swim,’ it’s a place where change happens every day, no matter the scale.

Passion is what should fuel all of our lives because we as a human race can be so much more. It’s time to learn from the YMCA.

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