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The YMCA of Greater Erie exists to strengthen the foundations of our community through Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility.
We do it by:
Erie County has 10 identified food deserts- pockets of our community where residents lack access to groceries and fresh fruits and vegetables. Through the Y’s Meals for Kids program, we are bridging the gap for youth ages 2-18 by providing free and nutritious meals directly in low-income neighborhoods where access is a concern. Locally, 1 in 5 children have food insecurity. In addition, the Y’s Food + Fun bus is a mobile meals site for kids that delivers meals via a renovated school bus. On average, more than 15,000 meals are served each summer at more than 12 locations throughout Erie County.
Nearly 30% of Third graders in Erie County score non-proficient in reading. The Y partners with Erie Public Schools to provide an intensive six-week summer learning loss program which blends rigorous, small-group academic instruction with high-quality camp-like enrichment and community engagement activities. In addition to the academic impact of summer learning, scholars are strengthening their social-emotional skills, building a positive self-image, transitioning from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset where anything is within reach and participating in physical activities and enjoying nutritious meals. The summer learning program is designed to address summer learning loss for children in low income households living in under-resourced areas and thereby enhance overall youth development, academic performance, and graduation rates in our community.
Offered in partnership with the City of Erie, Y staff provide a safe place for kids to meet-up in the summer and connect with caring adults. The program provides recreational opportunities for children in 9 City of Erie parks. Program includes traditional playground games, arts/crafts, group sports, nature exploration and more. A free summer lunch is also served.
Kids involved in the YMCA Kids Club in the John Horan Garden Apartments and Erie Heights/Pineview join YMCA staff daily for educational, recreational, cultural and relational activities. Children learn positive behaviors and character values such as caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. They explore their unique talents and abilities – helping them realize their potential.
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death of children under age 14 in the United States. The Y believes, that like learning to safely cross the street, children must learn to be safe in and around water. Free swimming lessons are provided to City of Erie children each summer and are funded by the City of Erie. More than 300 children participate in this program each summer.
In loving memory of YMCA staff member John Gilmore, the Y provides annual scholarships to the Dr. Barclay Diabetes Camp at nearby YMCA Camp Fitch. This is important because kids with diabetes often feel excluded from their favorite activities including birthday parties, holidays and sleepovers.
The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a one year, community-based program where participants work in a small groups with a trained Lifestyle coach in a relaxed, class room setting. In 25 sessions, participants learn how to incorporate healthier eating, moderate physical activity, problem-solving and coping skills into their daily lives. Learn more.
We know that teens don’t have many options outside of school-based activities. And that only about one-half of our youth are exposed to positive character development. The Teen Center at the Downtown Y is a place just for teens (12 -18) to participate in activities that interest them and connect with caring mentors. Teens have the freedom to pick and choose from a number of structured activities or elect for “chill-off” time.
A collaborative program offered in partnership with the Regional Cancer Center, Wellness for Life incorporates a focus on mind-body-spirit wellbeing for cancer patients and their caregivers. The program offers a combination of mind-body classes free of charge. Research shows that by integrating physical activity, proper nutrition and mind-body-spirit awareness, you can feel better and reduce the side effects of cancer treatment such as nausea, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and weight gain.
In partnership with local shelters, the YMCA offers Erie’s homeless a free shower and toiletries. This program is helping to preserve the dignity of Erie’s homeless.
Everyday troops are returning home from war with not just physical trauma, but mental trauma as well. The common diagnosis amongst veterans is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Anxiety Disorders. Veterans are supported with the use of prescription drugs, group therapy and counseling sessions. Even with this support, transitioning back into everyday life and the workforce can be a huge challenge. Suicide rates, substance abuse, domestic violence and depression continue to rise. The conventional methods of treatment for these veterans are simply not enough. More than 5000 veterans in Erie County are currently treated for post traumatic stress disorder. This free program extends membership and programs to Veterans currently receiving treatment for PTSD and/or have been referred by the VA Hospital.