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Today's Family Magazine

YMCA of Greater Cleveland Offers Programs and Fun All Year Round

YMCA swim instructor encourages child to dive into pool during swim lesson.  Photo credit: Y USA.

By Deanna Adams

The YMCA has been serving communities around the world since 1844, and in Cleveland since 1901 (formerly called the West Side Boys Club).  Today, this renowned nonprofit is often referred to simply as The Y, and continues its vision to develop strong kids, strong families and strong communities.  

“We strive to offer programs that meet the needs of all people in our community,” says Tiffany Foxx, vice president of branch operations at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland.  “I’ve been a part of The Y for 17 years, working in cities like Dayton and Massillon, and I’m happy to now be here in Cleveland, meeting and working with people from all walks of life.”

Throughout its long-held commitment to youth development, community health/wellness and social responsibility, the organization collaborates with other agencies to create opportunities not just for those within the community, but also for those who wish to be a part of it all by volunteering their talents and time.

“We’re not what you’d call a cookie-cutter organization,” Foxx says.  “We’re unique simply by what we have to offer — classes, programs, and events that meet everyone where they are at and to help broaden their overall life experience.”

The variety of programs The YMCA offers are broad and available throughout the year, ranging from youth programs, to classes and exercises for all ages, to virtual courses for those who prefer that convenience.  YMCA employees pride themselves as being guided by the organization’s longtime core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. 

Did you know that The Y is one of the largest childcare providers in the Greater Cleveland area? The before- and after-school Y-Club Enrichment is a childcare program that strives to bring a safe and nurturing environment and help kids improve skills, and give working parents confidence that their children are being well taken care of throughout their school day. The program, which offers social-emotional skills along with STEM, literacy, and arts and humanities, is available through a partnership with eighteen other elementary schools throughout the Cleveland area. 

“We provide care on-site with a curriculum that enriches the whole well-being of a child,” Foxx says.  “What makes us a bit different from other daycares, I think, is that we get the kids up and moving.  Physical activity is so important for children and you have to make exercise enjoyable and interactive.  It’s always fun to see all the creative activities our instructors come up with!”  

The program also offers nutritious snacks, in-house field trips, and opportunities to swim monthly at a neighborhood YMCA.

The Y believes that time spent with kids is the best investment a parent can make. And it’s why the organization offers the Adventure Guides programs for parents (or other significant adults) as the guide, and children as the explorer.  This means opportunities for bonding so that adults and kids can foster a lifetime of understanding and companionship through group activities, such as games, crafts, songs, stories, skits, and more.  These shared experiences also include outdoor interests like camping, hiking and swimming. 

“This is a great way for parents to do something interactive and different with their children,” says Foxx.  Currently, this program is offered at the West Park, Ridgewood, Southeast, Lakewood, West Shore, Hillcrest and Geauga YMCAs.  The Adventure Guides is for parents/caregivers and children, ages 5 and up, and membership is not required.

Perhaps the most popular program The Y is known for is its swimming classes, which are available all year long.  And while most kids love to swim, there are always some who let fear get in the way.  The Y can help with that too.  Each class is run by an experienced certified instructor who can teach students how to feel safe and enjoy being around water, starting with basic floating and swim strokes to specialty classes and programs.  “We have ongoing swim lessons for everyone — from infants and toddlers to adults of all ages,” Foxx says.  Classes take place on Saturdays and weekday evenings. 

One of the world’s most popular workout programs was launched at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland in February. Six of the Y’s 11 branches now offer it, starting with BODYPUMP.  Les Mills fans are adamant that they do not feel coerced into exercising.  Rather, they credit the routines with amplifying their passion for exercise.  Les Mills is included in the member’s dues, so there is no extra cost. 

Parents will also not want to miss out on a day full of fun coming up soon, on Sunday, March 26.  The YMCA invites everyone to attend Healthy Kids Day, which will take place at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse from noon – 3 p.m.  Be ready to play games, get involved in arts and crafts or be a part of sports skills clinic, along with other fun and educational activities.  In addition, Junior Cavs participants can enjoy some time on the same court that the Cleveland Cavaliers compete on for their games.

“There will be a ton of activities and vendors there,” says Foxx.  “This is a great opportunity to get acquainted, or reacquainted, with all that the YMCA has to offer.” 

The annual YMCA Day Camps are where kids can be kids, make new friends, learn new skills, and interact with nature.  The Y offers three different types of day camps.

For more information on all programs and events, or to become a YMCA member, please visit