West Cook YMCA

August 2019 CEO Message

Summer Reflections

Published 08.31.19
As I reflect over the last 3 months, I feel blessed to be a part of an organization and a community that is committed to increasing accessibility, especially among youth, and reducing the social determinants of health. 

Our Y, with partners across the community, has been diligently working to provide opportunities for youth, families, and adults to help them achieve their health and wellness goals. I'm honored to share below the impact our Y has on transforming and strengthening our community.

As summer comes to an end, our Y has been busy getting ready for fall. During the last two weeks, over 30 staff members and vendors have provided over 3,000 hours in completing over 300 summer recess projects including purchasing new passenger buses, installing new equipment, resurfacing floors, painting walls, deep cleaning the facility, resealing the parking lot, maintenance of cardio and strength equipment, and so much more. Visit www.westcookymca.org/summerrecess for more details and photos on the projects. We look forward to opening our doors on Tuesday, September 3rd at 5:00 am to a newer, better, cleaner, and safer Y.

As a reminder, our Fall I session begins when we reopen. If you have not registered for your Fall I program, you can do so by stopping by the Y. Our Member Engagement Team is available to help, or you can register online. Plus, when you register for a Fall I program, receive 25% off a Fall II program (exclusions do apply, so please inquire with our Member Engagement Team for details).
Phillip Jiménez                                   
President & CEO   


By Increasing Accessibility, Especially Among Youth

This summer, we had over 500 youth participating in our day camp, Power Scholars Academy, Safety Around Water, swim lessons, and youth sports. This year, we provided a record-breaking number of scholarships. Our families came not only from Oak Park and River Forest but we saw an increase in families participating in programs from Forest Park, Melrose Park, and even Chicago.

In partnership with Forest Park and River Forest school districts, we implemented our second year of Power Scholars Academy, a summer learning loss prevention program that welcomed over 90 first through sixth grade scholars. This program, provided at no cost to families, is helping to close the achievement gap as most students see a loss of up two months in math and literacy skills over the summer and we know from our first year that students either gained up to a month or saw no loss in literacy and math skills.
As a result of our partnership with Power Scholars Academy, our Y was invited by Forest Park School District 91 to provide enrichment for their preschool program and after-school program. We will be providing enrichment for 120 preschoolers and kindergarten through 2nd graders this school year. If you are a family in school district 91 and interested in either program, visit www.westcookymca.org/d91 for more details. 
Speaking of the school year, our  Y-Kids before and after-school program kicked off this week with over 60 students from four school districts- Oak Park, D97; River Forest, D90; Forest Park, D91; and Maywood-Melrose Park, D89. Our partnership with Proviso Township Mental Health Commission has provided financial assistance for 20 families in Maywood-Melrose Park School District 89 to participate in our after-school program. Y-Kids focuses on each student building relationships, having a sense of belonging, and achieving their goals so that they reach their full potential and become a leader in our community one day. If you still need before or after-school care, contact Elizabeth Lopez at elopez@westcookymca.org today.
Research shows that if a child doesn't learn to swim by third grade, chances are they never will. Which is why, this summer, our Aquatics Department provided over 50 complimentary safety around water lessons that focus on water safety skills to prevent drowning. These skills include comfortability in the water; jump, turn, swim, grab; and swim, float, swim. We're looking forward to providing more complimentary lessons this Fall for 2nd and 3rd graders in school districts 89, 90, 91, and 97. You can enroll today at www.westcookymca.org/saw.
What else is new this summer in Aquatics? We haven't changed our swim lesson program- just our class availability, how you register, and ensuring we have accessible pricing for all. This summer, we rolled out our swim lesson blocks, making it easier for parents to register. You no longer have to register by level but by age group blocks. Each swimmer is assessed on the first day and placed in the appropriate skill level class. We also added new convenient times during the weekday evenings and on the weekends. With these changes, we saw an increase in participation this summer ensuring that youth are learning the lifelong skill of swimming.



Reducing the Social Determinants of Health
Last spring, we took the time to assess our fitness program. Our goal is to be the preferred health and wellness provider by providing a quality experience through an excellence in service. We understand that to do this we needed to determine the right staffing needs, the right schedule, and the right built environment to help our members achieve their health and wellness goals. This past summer, we focused on hiring full-time fitness experts, who will have the ability to teach group fitness classes, provide personal training, and teach chronic disease prevention programs. With these full-time staff, we will be able to provide a group fitness schedule that meets every lifestyle. Plus, over the next several months, our fitness experts will be participating in various trainings, so they can bring on a full suite of group fitness classes back including our Mossa classes- Active Together, Strength Train Together, and Core Focus Together.
During Summer Recess, we installed sound equipment in both the small and large gym to enhance the experience of our participants. We also invested in new Keiser M3i bikes that will provide digital technology to track the class and each participant's progress. We look forward to launching our new enhanced cycling program after September 15th.
At the beginning of this summer, we had families complete Healthy Weight and Your Child, a weight management program that helps the whole family address childhood obesity. In July, we launched a new chronic disease prevention program, Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring. Over 30 participants will work to reduce their blood pressure through monitoring and nutrition and healthy life-style seminars that will lead to reducing their risk of developing chronic diseases.
Lastly, through our partnership with Cook County Hospital System, our West Cook YMCA will be providing chronic disease programs within Chicago such as Diabetes Prevention Program that focuses on getting participants to become active and eating right. Your Y now has four partnerships with local healthcare providers to bring chronic disease programs outside of our Oak Park facility and into the communities we serve. We are working together to reduce the social determinants of health so that everyone has the opportunity to improve their health and wellness.




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