Author Archives: AMELTON

Summer 2015 Program Guide

Check out the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA Summer 2015 Program Guide to get information on classes (descriptions and times), programs, volunteer opportunities, Child Development Center policies, Healthy Living initiatives, our Blueprint for a Healthy Community (Mission Expansion) and more …

Just click on the image below and check out your one-stop resource for everything you need to know about your membership, programs, services and benefits associated with the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA.

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The Dr. P. Phillips Y is one of the most unique YMCAs in the country. Its proximity to local elementary, middle and high schools has made it a focal point for family and community life. At the Dr. Phillips Y, you can see all ages engaging in wellness, education, socializing and more every day. The facility has been expanded several times since opening in 1993 and is again bursting at the seams with members and program participants.

As the Dr. Phillips community grows, so do its needs. Today, one in five area youth are obese, setting themselves up for major health challenges as adults. Summer learning loss is affecting all children, especially those who are already struggling with reading skills. High unemployment and underemployment continue to be sources of financial and emotional stress on families in the community. An aging population and growing adult obesity concerns have created a greater demand for preventative and rehabilitative wellness programs such as diabetes prevention and cardiac recovery.

To meet the growing needs of our community and to address these concerns, we’ve identified the following critical projects as part of our mission enhancement:

– Remodel and expand the Wellness Center; add a new and larger Spin Room and two racquetball courts … in order to meet the community’s demand for health and wellness activities.

– Partner with Orlando Health to add physical therapy and consultation spaces … in order to provide a smooth transition for patients recovering from illness or injury.

– Add indoor/outdoor social areas, including a new lobby … in order to create intentional spaces for people to gather and connect.

– Add a Playground … in order to encourage healthy activity in a fun way for youth and preschool students.

– Enhance Locker Rooms … in order to create accessible, pleasant accommodations for all ages.

– Create a Tween/Technology Center … in order to provide a safe place for young people to learn and practice becoming more independent.

Please check out our Facebook page ( and check for emails regarding updates regarding mission enhancement. Our mission is to fill community gaps that inhibit the Dr. Phillips community and to create healthy living, youth development and social responsibility opportunities that will enable all residents to thrive with a quality of life that will last for generations.

114 New Parking Spots on the Way!

Buddy Parking Lot 1 Low ResYou may have noticed some bulldozers on the back soccer fields recently, and that’s because mission expansion construction has officially begun. For those of you who are wondering why the trucks are digging up dirt way in the back, it’s because we will be improving the drainage system on the property and alleviating the water retention issue in the parking lot. We will also be adding 114 NEW parking spots.

In order to provide more parking, improve drainage and upgrade field space, we will temporarily lose 100 parking spots in September. THE GREAT NEWS IS THAT WE WILL HAVE THEM BACK, AS WELL AS 114 ADDITIONAL SPOTS, BY OCTOBER!!

In order to make the parking lot expansion as seamless a transition as possible:

— We will use a golf cart shuttle to pick up and drop off members from their cars on the adjacent parking lot.

— We will have easily identified YMCA staff in the parking lot ensuring safety and efficient use of member parking areas.

— We will have all staff park off-site and transport them to our Y through the use of a mini bus.

Phase 1 of our mission expansion will also include a new wellness floor with updated equipment, new spin room with new bikes and two racquetball courts. We will be providing weekly e-blast updates on construction, as well as this newsletter and Facebook/website posts. Additionally, I will be starting a round of Town Hall Meetings each month in the lobby to educate and inform you on all the exciting construction work that is being done as we expand our mission and continue to build a blueprint for a healthy community.

Parking Lot Expansion Under Way

You may have noticed a lot of Dr. Phillips YMCA staff in the parking lot this week wearing neon yellow shirts and directing members to parking spots. You also may have noticed a few of our staff driving golf carts and shuttling members to and from the Family Center. Parking lot expansion has begun, and in order to provide you with an additional 114 parking spots, we will temporarily be losing about 100 spots during the month of September due to construction. We’re 100 percent committed to making this transition as convenient as possible for everyone … hence the signs, additional parking areas, YMCA staff directing traffic and golf cart shuttles. We also want to thank you for your cooperation. Your understanding and patience during our mission expansion is greatly appreciated, and we’re really excited about providing you with a larger parking lot with better drainage starting this October!!

Expanding Our Mission

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At the Y, we often talk about “mission.” And as with any worthwhile mission, the goal is to impact as many people in a positive way as possible. At the Dr. Phillips Y, we strive to do this every day, and now we are about to expand our mission by adding more programs and services that will improve the lives of even more individuals and families in the community.

I’m happy to announce that we have secured all necessary building permits and that we will begin expanding our parking lot by 114 spots this month. This is just part of Phase 1 of our mission expansion, which also includes a new wellness floor with updated equipment, new spin room with new bikes, and two racquetball courts. During Phase 1, there will be no negative impact or inconveniences associated with creating these new features. And for anyone concerned about the soccer fields, not only will they not be disrupted by the creation of the new parking spots, they will actually be enhanced during the process.

Our goal is to bring the community closer together by creating a gathering place that speaks to the needs of everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. And it’s not just about creating more “space.” It’s what we do with that space that creates a lasting impact. For example, the new wellness floor will provide more cardio and strength conditioning options that will ultimately help members better control weight, boost energy, develop stronger bones and combat health conditions. The same goes for the new spin room, which will provide ample space for members to engage in both anaerobic and aerobic exercise to help build muscle endurance, increase lung capacity, tone legs and increase cardio fitness.

In the coming months, we will be communicating our expansion news through our website, an internal newsletter dedicated to mission expansion news and updates, via Facebook posts and throughout the facility via signage, so be sure to keep up to date on our progress as we continue to grow our mission in order to strengthen the Dr. Phillips community.

A Healthy Family Home


Have fun with the family and ‘Roll with It’ this month. To play this game, you will need dice, a pencil and a piece of paper. Number the paper from 1-6. Next to each number, write down a physical activity and the number of times the activity should be performed (i.e. twenty jumping jacks). Your list could look something like this:

1.            Twenty jumping jacks

2.            Five squats

3.            Six star jumps

4.            Eight push ups

5.            Fifteen calf raises

6.            Ten lunges

Now get your family together to play Roll with It, each person rolls the die and performs the activity based on the number rolled. If you want to make the game more challenging, come up with twelve activities and use two dice. Roll with It is a fun game for the whole family and can be played after a meal, during a break from screen time or outdoors on a nice spring day.


Q: Where can I find healthier foods on a tight budget?

A: In most grocery stores when you see a price tag you will find two prices. The more prominent number is the real price – the amount that the cashier will ask you to pay when you get to the cash register. The smaller number, if available, is the unit price. Often, the unit price will be in a smaller font size, printed with a lighter color of ink, or the real price will have yellow highlighting on it to call attention to itself. Zero in on the unit price to understand the real cost. This additional information provides you a standard unit to use to compare products and packages, allowing you as the busy parent to make a more informed choice. This information should make it easier for you to compare prices and ensure you can bring home healthier foods and stay within your food budget. For example a 16 oz. can of unsalted diced tomatoes is $1.29, and the unit price is .08/0z. Compared to a 32 oz. can of unsalted diced tomatoes is $1.99, and the unit price is .06/oz. This may not seem like a lot, but often switching to the store brand or another brand the unit price may be significantly lower and the small savings here and there can add up at the cash register.


March is National Nutrition Month! Research has shown that eating a variety of fruit and veggies on a daily basis will:

•             Strengthen your immune system

•             Lower your risk for certain cancers

•             Help prevent type 2 diabetes

•             Reduce high blood pressure

•             Prevent some eye diseases

•             Keep your urinary tract healthy

•             Support a healthy heart

•             Keep your memory sharp

•             Help build strong bones and teeth

To celebrate this month, spend each week focusing on a new color of fruits and veggies for that week. Get out the calendar research the fruit and veggies in the different color categories below, create meal ideas, and compile grocery lists with foods of the hue for that week. Use the list below to guide your weekly colors of flavor and fun.

•             1st week of March – Bright Orange and Yellow

•             2nd week of March – Blue and Purple

•             3rd week of March – Bright and deep Green

•             4th week of March – Red


Minutes add up! As a family the health benefits from regular physical activity are priceless. We all need to aim for 30 minutes of activity every day. Make time for an extra 5 minutes each day to increase your heart rates and use your leg muscles. An addition of 5 minutes of walking can be an increase of 500 – 1,000 steps per day. Over one week your family could expand its physical activity goals by 35 minutes. Be creative as a family to identify all the opportunities to add five. Add a two song dance party several nights a week. If you have a hallway practice walking lunges up and down the hall. Sneak a quick brisk walk around the block before a meal. Have fun finding the bonus five this month.

Building the Y of the Future with the Help of Dr. Phillips Charities

There’s a new expansion on the horizon, and one that will make the Dr. Phillips YMCA a one-of-a-kind facility. In the coming months, different phases of construction will take place that will transform our facility into the “Y of the future,” replete with racquetball courts, an enlarged spin room, a new and improved wellness floor, state-of-the-art lobby, healthy living cafe (with all healthy food options and a demonstration kitchen to teach members how to cook healthy meals!), and new, creative programming designed to support all of it.

The goal is to create a gathering place that speaks to the needs of the entire community. By providing programs and services geared towards disease prevention (and the healthy living options that come along with that), as well as the specific needs of today’s youth and seniors, the Dr. Phillips YMCA will become the flagship for the organization’s ultimate vision for the Central Florida region.

And we could never have accomplished this without the support and generosity of Dr. Phillips Charities, the YMCA of Central Florida’s main supporter over the years. In fact, the Dr. Phillips name has been a major economic and philanthropic presence in the Central Florida community since the turn of the 20th century. Dr. Phillips Charities honors the legacy of the Phillips family and its support of organizations that live up to the motto “to help others help themselves.”

In the coming months, you will see a lot of construction going on, but remember that this is a means to an end, an end that will make Dr. Phillips the model Y of the future and will reinvent the way people think about and work towards a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to pick up a copy of our Expansion News and Notes newsletter — created specifically for the new expansion — to receive updates on construction. Also, be sure to check back on the website for new blog posts regarding expansion news and inspiring stories of wellness.

We Can Do So Much More with You

The Y of Central Florida’s Annual Support Campaign has officially kicked off with a $3.2 million goal to make the Y available and accessible to more than 31,500 neighbors in need.

Leading the effort is longtime Y champion, Charlie Egerton, founding shareholder of Dean, Mead, Egerton, Bloodworth, Capuano & Bozarth P.A.

“Not everyone knows it, but the Y never turns anyone away due to an inability to pay,” Egerton said.

Thanks to the support of generous donors, we can do even more in providing much-needed early childhood development care, afterschool programs and prevention-based health and wellness programs that serve people of all ages, incomes and abilities.”

In addition to the $3.2 million goal, this year’s campaign aims to attract 3,000 volunteers and 12,000 donors in order to improve the lives of more than 31,500 deserving kids and families.

Dollars raised also support the operation 11 Outreach Ys, which serve fragile communities like Tangelo Park, South Orlando, Titusville and Pine Hills where kids and families are at greater risk.

Given how many lives are touched by the campaign, it’s easy to see why we say, WithYyou, We Can Do So Much More. Please click here to give.


Major Dan Rooney to Headline Celebration of Prayer

Major Dan Rooney, a great American patriot, author and man of faith will headline the YMCA’s 20th Annual Celebration of Prayer on Thursday, April 17.Rooney_Dan_PROMOPIC

Tickets and corporate tables are now available for this community-wide breakfast, which features inspirational speakers, music and prayer.

You won’t want to miss Major Dan Rooney (USAF Ret.), who will share his inspiring life history as an F-16 pilot, philanthropist, PGA professional and author of A Patriot’s Calling: Living Life Between Fear and Faith.

Major Rooney will discuss his history of combat and serving others, as well as the importance of faith, teamwork, finding your life’s mission and becoming a positive force for change.

In recognition of his many accomplishmentsMajor Rooney was named People Magazine‘s Hero of the Year and ABC World News’ Person of the Year.

DSC_3115Celebration of Prayer will be held from 7 to 8:15 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Orlando, 3000 South John Young Parkway.

Corporate tables, seating eight, are $400.  Groups of 4 tickets are $200. Individual tickets are $50.

Attended annually by more than 1,000 residents and community leaders, Celebration of Prayer is the largest event of its kind held locally during Holy Week.

It also honors the Y’s Christian heritage and commitment to Social Responsibility.

DSC_3186“One of the best ways that the Y strengthens our community is by bringing people together through large-scale prayer events that foster unity, acceptance and understanding,” said Jim Ferber, YMCA President and CEO.

“Celebration of Prayer ─ as well as the Y’s five other regional prayer breakfasts ─ support the Christian traditions that make us strong.”

For information or to reserve tables or tickets, please call Rexanne Paugh at (407) 895-8615 or email [email protected].


Frank DeLuca YMCA Groundbreaking

SAfter five years of big dreams, hard work and incredible fundraising, construction has begun on the new Frank DeLuca YMCA Family Center in Ocala. More than 325 people turned out for the Feb. 21 groundbreaking, which reflected the pride of an entire community. Helping lead the celebration was Ocala businessman Frank DeLuca whose major gift anchored the project’s $5 million capital campaign. Also participating were officials from Munroe Regional Medical Center, which has forged a first-of-its kind partnership with the Y to help combat Marion County’s high rate of chronic disease.Frank Deluca Y Once complete, the $7 million expansion/renovation will result in a 50,000 sq. ft. Healthy Living Center capable of serving 40,000 people per year. In addition to enhanced programs for youth and families, the Y will offer clinically based health and wellness programs designed to prevent diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases ─ 50% of which can be avoided through healthier lifestyles.    None of this would be possible without the support of thousands of dedicated Y members, donors and volunteers. Chief among them are Steve Wingo and Bill Browder who have been the heart and soul of the capital campaign and every other effort to make this dream a reality. We owe them and the entire Marion County community a huge debt of gratitude.


The Peggy and Phillip B. Crosby YMCA Wellness Center launched LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA in October 2013. LIVESTRONG is a research-based program that provides a safe, supportive environment for people affected by cancer to participate in physical and social activities that strengthen the whole person. On January 30, 2014, the Crosby Y and Winter Park Memorial Hospital will host the inaugural LIVESTRONG graduation ceremony. It’s a special occasion, a survivor’s celebration, and something that the Crosby Y has dedicated itself to … a personalized approach to wellness with programs focusing health and prevention, not disease.

“LIVESTRONG at the YMCA supports a growing number of local cancer survivors who have completed their cancer treatments and are ready to regain the physical and emotional strength they need to resume normal lives,” says John Cardone, YMCA of Central Florida Vice President of Health Strategies. “We are excited that the LIVESTRONG program has launched and that cancer survivors will be graduating the program with the skills and tools they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Crosby’s mission is an extension of the YMCA of Central Florida’s mission, which is to strengthen local communities and help people reach their highest potential in spirit, mind and body. For more information about the LIVESTRONG program, contact Brittany Dixson at 407.646.7000 ext. 3788.

The Downtown Y … Now Offering Fit For All Groups!

At the Downtown Orlando YMCA, we have programs and activities for everyone, regardless of their health and wellness needs. As part of our commitment to provide something for everyone, we have developed  Fit For All Groups, coach-led small groups focused around common interests. These groups will meet once per week for 12 weeks beginning the week of January 20. You will receive coach guidance, support from other members, and maybe even learn something new while getting on track for 2014.  And all of this is included in your membership! Email [email protected] with questions or see our “schedule” album in our photos on Facebook (


Y of Central Florida :: Youth Development



YMCA OF CENTRAL FLORIDA :: Youth Development


With our children’s future at stake, more than 70 local education leaders recently attended a YMCA Youth Development event to discuss how we could work together to improve student success.

OCPS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara and Dr. Ann Manley of Dr. Phillips CharitiesDuring a luncheon held at Leu Gardens, Dr. Jesus Jara, Deputy Superintendent, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) discussed the district’s progress and challenges in closing the academic achievement gap. He also expressed gratitude for strong partners like the YMCA, which is helping improve “out-of-school time” learning through a strong portfolio of after-school programs, many of which are operated onsite at nearly 50 OCPS locations.

Quoting Dr. Nelson Mandela, Jara said education is the most powerful weapon in changing lives – especially children’s lives. “This is obviously at the heart of everything we do and it’s the key to the Y’s partnership.”

YMCA President/CEO Jim Ferber echoed the sentiment, noting that it’s especially important for kids to have academic support, safety and structure during after-school hours. It’s why the organization recently revamped all of its Youth Development programs to include at least 60 minutes of reading instruction, as well as equal amounts of time dedicated to values, wellness and strengthening families.

As part of its long-range planning, Ferber said the Y also intends to expand proven-practice programs like the YMCA After School Zone, funded through Orange County Government. Operated at 14 area middle schools, it has a 15-year history of helping more than 130,000 kids improve grades and school attendance, while reducing juvenile crime.


Joan Nelson, VP Community Investment, United Way, Shannon Matthews, YMCA Vice President of Youth Development, Rich Sloane, Director UCF College of Education and Human Performance, Florida State Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, and Jim Ferber, YMCA President & CEOCrystal Perry, Project Manager for BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), discussed an innovative pilot program operated by BELL and the Y to reverse summer learning loss. Offered this summer at McCoy Elementary, a Title 1 school, Perry said students gained an average of six months of learning in just six weeks. “We’ve created a wonderful model at McCoy,” Perry said. “And we have an incredible opportunity to join together and take this success much further.”

In urging greater collaboration, Shannon Matthews, YMCA Vice President of Youth Development, said schools are running as hard as they can and need the support of others who are willing to run alongside them.

“Today, we have a unique opportunity to stand together as a community and nurture our youth by improving their educational outcomes,” Matthews said. “The Y has a place and way for you to serve, and together we can achieve amazing things.”

With committees forming around early learning readiness, preventing summer learning loss, out-of-school-time learning and community partnerships, the group plans to meet again on October 16th to determine priorities and next steps.



Volunteer at the Y

The importance of volunteerism can’t be overstated. At the Y, we could never accomplish our program goals without the help of our volunteers, and we are so appreciative of the support they provide. Our Day of Sharing is an opportunity for us to convey our cause and mission to members, stress our focus on social responsibility and get our members excited about volunteer opportunities. And it is also an opportunity for you to give back and support your neighbors in need by volunteering at the Y. There are so many ways you can help. For example, you can coach a sports team; motivate and support youth through any of our child development programs; extend a hand to help adults who want to do more, be more and live healthier; advocate for the Y’s efforts to influence initiatives that positively impact the community; or share your voice on a committee or board of directors. At the Downtown Y, we are always here to answer your questions and guide you as to how you can volunteer and become a part of something bigger.

Operation Christmas Child

Few things make us feel as good about ourselves as when we take the time to help someone else. At the Y, we see the sense of satisfaction in our volunteers every day. One way that everyone can give back is with Operation Christmas Child.

The Y of Central Florida has participated in Operation Christmas Child before, and this year we are challenging our communities and partners to help us collect 40,000 shoe boxes for boys and girls in need around the world.  

Make it a special Christmas not only for others, but for yourself. This is a simple project that can bring families and communities together while teaching kids the importance of being generous to those who have little. Boxes can be filled with school supplies, hygiene items, and/or small toys. These items are priceless for kids without necessities, so soap or barrettes can make a huge impact. 

From October 7 – November 21, 2013, bring your Operation Christmas Child gifts to one of our 25 local Y of Central Florida family centers. The gift-filled shoe boxes you donate will be distributed to children around the world that are in severe poverty due to wars and/or natural disasters.

Donating a gift-filled shoe box is easy. Just follow these 5 steps:

  • Find a plastic shoe box. Please note: a plastic box is best since children can use as a much needed container to carry water to and from their home
  • Fill the plastic shoe box with these suggested gifts: school supplies, small toys, toiletries, hard candies, t-shirts, socks, combs, hair clips or any other useful personal item, along with a personal note.
  • Take your gift-filled shoe box to a Y of Central Florida family center nearest you.
  • Pick up a “How to pack your shoe box” brochure and cut out the labels provided in the back. Select the gender most appropriate for your gifts and mark the correct age category. Tape the label on your shoe box.
  • Place the gift-filled shoe box in the area we have dedicated to Operation Christmas Child in our family centers.

On November 17 we will bless the boxes and send them to the official drop off location in Orlando.  Samaritan’s Purse will ensure shoe boxes are delivered directly into the hands of children in need.

Here at the Y we are building a Global Center for Excellence and believe we can make a real difference in the lives of people and communities we engage within our country and around the globe. That is why we support Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse annual gift-filled shoe box drive intended to improve the lives of many suffering children overseas. For over 160 years, we have been listening and responding to the needs of our communities here and worldwide.

We thank you for taking this opportunity to give back and support neighboring countries in need. At the Y, we value members like you that help advance our social responsibility efforts. 

Tell us what you are putting in your shoe box and why.

Driving Social Responsibility

Why the Downtown Orlando YMCA’s Heroes Salute and First Responders Program is Important in So Many Ways


Today, as we remember the tragic events of Sept. 11, it’s important that the Central Florida region comes together to not only honor the victims of that fateful day, but to forge new relationships and enhance existing ones with friends and neighbors in an effort to make our local communities better places to live, work and play.


As the Downtown Orlando YMCA paid tribute to first responders earlier today, the gesture was one of both gratitude AND support. The Y is committed to its mantra of “always here for our community,” and the efforts put forth to accomplish this are always heartfelt and sincere. The purpose of the First Responders Program is to recognize the commitment of all the individuals who put their own lives at risk every day to improve our quality of life. An enormous amount of responsibility falls on the shoulders of our region’s first responders, and their well-being shouldn’t be neglected while they respond to our needs. By offering support in ways best suited to our organization’s strengths, we reinforce the fabric of the community by sharing our resources with others. We understand that good mental, physical and family health make our heroes even stronger, which in turn does the same for our region.


The Downtown Y will continue to be here for you, our community neighbors and partners, in an effort to enhance quality of life for everyone. We will continue to offer programs and services focused on healthy living, youth development and social responsibility because that kind of mission work is never really completed … and because it’s the right thing to do.


So, from this day forward, when you see a first responder, thank them for their service because when you think about it, we’re all in this together. A community is only as strong as its weakest link, and it can’t thrive when hungry and/or homeless children can’t flourish in school or when our health care providers and patients are overwhelmed by the costs of preventable diseases. Only as a united front can we truly make a difference … so let’s make a difference together.


For more information on our First Responders Program and other upcoming community initiatives, contact our Member Services Department at 407.896.6901.


From September 1 through 15, the Winter Park YMCA Family Center will be honoring the region’s first responders by offering no barriers to join the Y Family. For all police department, sheriff’s department, fire department, prison and EMT employees, the standard joiner’s fee will be waived, and first responders will be able to sign up their families for the individual membership rate.


The Winter Park Y will also host a First Responders Family Challenge from September 11 through October 9. During this competition, our First Responder families can register as a team and compete against other teams by completing various physical activities, including cycling, group power, swimming, basketball, volleyball and more. There will also be activities for children so the entire family can get involved. The team that completes the most activities will earn bragging rights and a Y t-shirt! Also, on September 11, the Winter Park Y will host a First Responders Heroes Salute as we gather under the American flag in front of our Family Center at 8:30 a.m. At exactly 8:46 a.m., we will observe a moment of silence immediately followed by a moment of prayer. For more information on how you can get involved to help support our local heroes, contact Andy Mace at [email protected]


From September 1 through 15, the Downtown Orlando YMCA Family Center will be honoring the region’s first responders by offering no barriers to join the Y Family. For all police department, sheriff’s department, fire department, prison and EMT employees, the standard joiner’s fee will be waived, and first responders will be able to sign up their families for the individual membership rate.


The Downtown Y will also host a Service Member Challenge from September 11 through October 9. During this competition, different precincts, departments and facilities can register as a team and compete against other first responder teams by completing various physical activities, including basketball, cycling, lap swim, body pump, jump rope and more. The team with the most stickers on its board at the end of the challenge will earn bragging rights for the region. Also, on September 11, the Downtown Y will host a First Responders Heroes Salute as we gather together under the American flag in front of our Family Center at 8:30 a.m. At exactly 8:46 a.m., we will observe a moment of silence immediately followed by a moment of prayer.


“So much falls on the shoulders of our region’s first responders,” says Mariana Gonzalez, the Downtown Orlando YMCA’s associate executive director. “Those who stress over our safety every day need … and deserve … the stress relief we have to offer. Here at the Y we understand that good mental, physical and family health makes our heroes even stronger.”


For more information on how you can get involved to help support our local heroes, contact Charis Vasallo at [email protected]

Winter Park YMCA Aquatics Complex Grand Opening

More than 400 families are enjoying the new Aquatics Complex at the Winter Park YMCA today. The Family Center is hosting a Labor Day grill and chill pool party to open the new amenity, which includes a ramp with rails for easy access, a dedicated space for water aerobics and senior fitness classes, climbing ropes and giant water-pouring bucket for kids, and a dedicated hoops area where teens can improve their game and agility. “We knew there was excitement about the grand opening, but the response today was more than we could have hoped for,” said Andrea Massey, Winter Park YMCA Board Chairman. “The people who supported and helped make this happen should be very proud of themselves.” The Winter Park YMCA sees the new aquatics complex as part of a new era of health, wellness and accessibility for all. Pools are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for so many people who want to maintain their mobility, independence and social connections with others, and this new addition provides that and much more for both individuals and families. For more information, contact the Winter Park YMCA at 407-644-1509.

Olympic Challenge Google + Hangout a Huge Success

On August 13, the first Olympic Challenge LIVE Google+ Hangout took off running! Members watched live at the Downtown Orlando YMCA or tuned into Facebook and Google+ as Mariana Gonzalez, Downtown Orlando Director of Health and Wellness, and Justin Higa, Roper YMCA Wellness Director, answered a variety of questions regarding the best cardio workouts, dealing with injuries and good training exercises for high school athletes. The live event was designed to provide members with an opportunity to ask YMCA wellness experts about anything and everything healthy-living related, and they weren’t disappointed. The questions kept coming, and Mariana and Justin kept providing in-depth, knowledgeable answers that members will no doubt benefit from. In fact, the event went so well that the Y is already planning another Google+ Hangout soon. Topic to be determined. Stay tuned … The Challenge is your opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try some new activities that your membership at the Y provides. For more information on how to get started, see any YMCA Staff Member or call 407-896-6901.

22nd Annual Arthur ‘Pappy’ Kennedy Prayer Breakfast

Uniting as a community to REMEMBER. CELEBRATE. and ACT.

Each year the Y of Central Florida brings hundreds of community and business leaders together to celebrate the lives and legacies of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy, Orlando’s first African-American elected official.  The reason is simple: it supports our legacy as a Christian organization and brings our diverse community together in prayer just as Dr. King and Pappy Kennedy did with their lives.

This year’s speaker was Dr. Fitz Hill, President of Arkansas Baptist College and Co-Author of “Crackback!” How College Football Blindsides the Hopes of Black Coaches. Dr. Hill worked as a NCAA Division I head football coach before he became a top-level university administrator. He has spent half of his life researching challenges associated with race that are faced by African-American college coaches. His groundbreaking work, including a doctoral dissertation on the topic, has made Dr. Hill a nationally consulted expert who was asked to testify before a U.S. congressional committee. He has also appeared on numerous network television programs including “ESPN Outside The Lines,” “Cold Pizza,” “ABC Nightline” and “HBO Real Sports”. Dr. Hill, who received a bronze star while serving in the U.S. Army during Desert Storm, is also a visiting lecturer at the Institute of Diversity of Ethics at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Being the first black coach for San Jose State University, would not have been possible had it not been for Dr. King fighting for equality. We now have a responsibility to carry out that dream to be a blessing to others,” says Dr. Hill.

The YMCA of Central Florida is committed to improving the lives of all in Central Florida through Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. “Dr. King devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice and economic opportunity for all, and taught us that everyone has a role to play in making America what it ought to be,” said Jim Ferber, President & CEO of YMCA of Central Florida.

2013 Press Releases

Get the latest news and developments at the Y of Central Florida, one of Central Florida’s largest nonprofits committed to strengthening the communities it serves.

Helping Lake County Grow healthier and stronger

Every day, your Golden Triangle YMCA helps the people of Lake County grow healthier and stronger. It’s a commitment that our employees take very seriously. Our goal is to help everyone, from toddlers to adults, make the very most of their lives.

In 2013 we want you to GET BACK TO YOUR BEST and we can help you reach your goals through our COACH APPROACH program, a personalized wellness program that works for real people. This new approach will make a huge impact on getting our members to become more committed to their fitness goals.

It’s easy! If you need a personalized coach, there is a short questionnaire that determines whether or not The COACH APPROACH is right for you. Simply… “Has it been longer than 3 or 4 months since the last time you had an exercise program? Or, do you exercise less than 60 minutes in a week?”

See one of our Wellness Coaches to get more details about this program. The COACH APPROACH adds great value to everyone, especially those that need it the most.

Best regards,
Tom Breck
Executive Director

Creating a Safe Place for Kids and Families

Evans Hubbard is our Champion of Youth. Each year, he supports a wide range of charitable programs and organizations like the YMCA dedicated to education, youth, community service, health and the arts. He has consistently supported the YMCA in our efforts to create a safe place for kids and families in undeserved communities at our Tangelo Park YCMA where his support provides kids a chance to build life skills in youth basketball clinics. Evans, through the A. Friend’s Foundation, provided significant gifts towards the Roper Y, South Orlando Y and the Dr. Phillips Y, where the youth gymnasium is named after the Hubbard Family.

He played a vital role in the development of the Safe Start program that has taught over 10,000 kids life-saving skills. He has provided youth with opportunities to grow and become leaders through our Teen Achievers Program. His generosity and vision for our community aligns greatly with the YMCA and its cause of strengthening communities. We are thankful to people like Evans Hubbard who are constantly working to strengthen the communities we serve.

The Pillars of a Healthy Family Home

Protect the Right to Play

More children than ever are involved in scheduled, structured activities.  Children benefit greatly from unstructured play as well.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, free play helps children grow and develop toward important intellectual, emotional, and social milestones along their developmental journey towards becoming a healthy teen and adult.


Introduce Children to Nature

A growing body of research is pointing to the fact that time spent in contact with nature is good for everyone, but that it is particularly important to the healthy development of children.  Nature engages all of the senses, helps children to develop curiosity and creativity, reduces stress and fosters a sense of wonder and a desire to explore and learn.  Children who spend time in nature are also more likely to develop a lifelong sense of connection to and concern for the environment.

Strong Teams, Powerful Role Models

At the J. Douglas Williams YMCA every fall we bring families together with our youth basketball league.  Hundreds of  kids spend their Saturdays at the Y learning new skills and team work.  Our coaches instill powerful values and leadership in our basketball players, which prepares them for future life experiences.


On the television.  In the movies.  In the songs you hear in the radio.  It seems as though everywhere you turn these days, you find examples of people exhibiting poor values.  The good news is, there’s still one place that you can always find strong values in action.  You’ll witness them in everything we do at the Y.  We’re bringing values to life every day in our own actions with our youth sports programs.  Our coaches are serving our community by being powerful role models to our kids.

Keeping You Healthy with Fresh Options

At the Downtown Orlando YMCA, we are constantly living our cause by strengthening our communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.


Promoting health living is not just about fitness, it also includes what we nourish our mind, body and spirit with. Recently, we celebrated Healthy Living week at the Downtown Orlando YMCA. During this week, we decided to launch our Eat More Produce farmer’s market corner. The enormous support we received encouraged us to continue to provide this additional amenity to our members weekly; every Wednesday from 8 AM-8 PM members are able to purchase fresh produce at the Downtown Y. Even more, we provide healthy recipe cards and nutritional facts featuring a different fruit or vegetable every week. You can learn the extra benefits of these fruits and vegetables while finding ways to prepare good and healthy meals.


At the Y, we believe in doing everything possible to not only communicate our cause to the world but to actually live it. We are committed to changing the lives of our members and helping them stay connected with their personal health goals for good.


What does healthy living mean to you? Better yet, how have we at the Y helped you maintain a healthier lifestyle?

Tricks for Healthy Treats & Fall Festivals

Staying focused on healthy living can be hard to do around October, especially for kids. With alarming childhood obesity rates on the rise, the Y is encouraging families to choose healthy and non-food treats as an alternative to sugary and unhealthy candy this season.


There are many healthy, yet fun, choices on the market to entice trick-or-treaters, and choosing to be healthy isn’t as hard as you think. We’ve pulled together some simple tricks to help you and your family successfully ‘treat’ this fall.


TRICK: eat a balanced meal beforehand


Before your children venture out in their costumes, make sure they eat a healthy meal before going trick-or-treating. Try the Incredible White Bean Pizza recipe below. It is fast and simple. With full stomachs, they won’t be so tempted to dig into their bag of goodies before they get back home. Ask your kids not to eat candy while they are out.


Incredible Bean Pizza



Ingredients: 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed 1 clove garlic, 2 tablespoons water, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1 pizza crust, Shredded Mozzarella cheese, Fresh diced tomatoes, Chopped basil



  • Puree first five ingredients in a blender and spread mixture over the pizza crust.
  • Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese, fresh, diced tomatoes and chopped basil.
  • Bake in a 425 degree F oven until cheese is bubbly, about 10-12 minutes.


TRICK: avoid handing out treats altogether


There are several alternatives to passing out candy. Here are some suggestions that will make your neighbors both admire you and think twice about what they hand out next year:


  • Mini Toothbrushes
  • Halloween stickers
  • Rubber Balls
  • Party Favors
  • Colored Pencils
  • Raisins Packets
  • Key Chains


TRICK: make healthy choices


Not all candy is created equal. When you do indulge, try to pick out the lowest calorie and sugar options available. Check out our list for some suggestions:


  • 3 Musketeers Miniatures- 24 calories– WINNER!
  • Milky Way Mini- 28 calories
  • Snicker Mini- 42.5 calories
  • Two Twix Bars- 160 calories
  • Peanut Butter Pumpkin- 180 calories
  • Almond Joy/Mounds- 200 calories


Now, what to do with all the candy your kids bring home? Negotiate with your kids to “trade in” their candy for something that they’ve been wanting: a video game, a certain pair of jeans, a special dinner or just cash toward a higher priced gadget for which they want to save.


You can decide, based on your budget, what amount of bartering you are willing to do. Then, go through the treat bag together, letting them choose a set number of goodies to keep, after which they hand over the rest in exchange for their earned gift.




At the Y, we make it our job to provide family time by bringing families together to have fun and grow together. That’s why we are providing not-so-scary fall festivals for the neighborhoods and communities we serve.


Come together with your community by participating in one of our fall festivals around Central Florida. Call your local Y for more information.



How will you stay healthy and celebrate fall?

Ensuring a Brigther Future for Marion County

At the Y, we want to build an even stronger community in Marion County. With a thriving presence already in this local community, we aim to renovate the Y and make it a vital part of the Ocala community.


Now is the time to stand together and advance the cause in Marion County. We created a $4 million Capital Campaign steering committee, chaired by Steve Wingo, who is keeping the legacy alive for those who first committed to establishing a Y in Marion County. Imagine what we can accomplish with a renovated and modern YMCA that is less crowded, conducive to building community daily and able to reach more area kids, adults and families with quality programs.



Marion County is growing and with that comes unique area needs. The YMCA renovation project will help us fulfill the vision we have for this thriving community. We want to transform the area into a model community in the state of Florida by establishing a community hub where every man, woman and child is welcome and lasting impact is created daily through quality programs and services that engage and connect neighbors.



We impact more than 20,000 children and adults in Ocala. With programs designed to improve health and well-being and provide support to children, adults and families, at the Y we are uniquely positioned to address critical health and social issues affecting the Marion County community.  Over the last five years, the Y at Marion County has tripled in size, from 4,000 to 12,000 members. Our facility, although functional and productive, has reached its space capacity. Expansion of the Marion County Y will enable us to make a healthier and more connected Ocala community.


Here are just a few examples of how the renovation will make a much larger impact on our community.


  • Current Usage – 2,600 per year: We cultivate values and skills in our youth. While most schools are eliminating physical activities, our programs and staff keep kids active and help cultivate values and skills that lead to positive behaviors.
  • Expected with Expansion – 3,800 per year: Modernization of the YMCA facility in Ocala will enable our Youth Sports Program to instill our values, reach more kids and create greater impact in the community.


  • Current Usage – 12,000 per month: We improve health and prevent disease while bringing families together in a safe environment. The Marion County Y serves as a safe, positive place where families can come together to get healthy, have fun and connect.
  • Expected Usage Growth with Expansion – 20,000 per month: Renovating this area will permit designation of zones to better serve individuals and provide options at all ends of the fitness spectrum. The expansion will also allow for greater enrollment of members in signature wellness programs that help address key issues like the lack of commitment to an active life, poor eating/health habits and overall inactivity.


  • Current Usage – 4,000 per month: We promote education to help close the academic achievement gap between low and middle income kids we provide mentoring and teach kids, through or after school and youth sports programs, the life and educational skills they need to be successful.
  • Expected Usage Growth and Expansion – 7,000 per month – Creating a larger child development center will facilitate the delivery of a revamped curriculum in a safe, nurturing environment where children can learn, grow and develop social skills that prepare them to enter school.


At the Y of Marion County, we work day in and day out to create a lasting impact, but we want to extend our reach to more of our community. The rejuvenation of Marion County YMCA will help us reach our goal.



We are changing lives daily in Ocala. Help us move our cause forward and deliver on our promise: to strengthen our community and lay the foundation for future generations.  Today, we need your support. You can make a difference in a variety of ways.








Relieving Back to School Stress


At the Y, we are committed to come alongside parents and guardians to make this school year a time when kids realize their potential and discover who they are and what they are able to achieve.  Here are a few ways we are helping parents and children have a less stressful school year.


With parents working harder than ever, they need an affordable and reliable option for after school care.  Children without productive, supervised activities can get involved in drugs, crime, and other activities that negatively impact their future. That’s why the Y works directly with the local school system to offer safe and nurturing After School programs where we teach kids to use their time constructively by pursuing fun, creative activities and exercise that reinforce essential learning skills.

Some children face limited educational opportunities even while they are in school due to budget restrictions within their district – a situation that fosters an academic achievement gap between children of different income levels.  Our After School programs for Elementary and Middle School children allows students to keep learning after school gets out and is offered on site so families don’t have to arrange additional transportation. During this out-of-school time, the Y is providing additional academic support from qualified educators to  help narrow the achievement gap and keep kids from falling behind during the academic year. Parents can rest-assured knowing their child is staying active and learning in our After School programs.



It is extremely important for kids to start the school year off with a boost of confidence. Kids stress about what their peers think of them at school, and the Y’s youth sports program addresses this issue by enabling kids to develop confidence, strong self-esteem, a true sense of purpose, and a positive view of their future.

When it comes to youth sports in Central Florida, the Y offers more opportunities, more teams and more fun. Every day, 1,000 kids play their hearts out on our soccer fields and basketball courts in a safe, nurturing environment.  With the help of their caring coaches, many of which are volunteers, kids develop game skills, good sportsmanship and the friendships they need to keep thriving.

And with more obesity, heart disease and diabetes on the rise, it’s never been more important to help the kids of our community embrace exercise and discover the fun side of an active lifestyle, which also reduces stress.


  • Plan meals ahead.  Save time and energy during the ultra-busy school/work-week by making meals ahead of time over the weekend. Make a double batch when cooking during the week to use during an evening that is especially busy. Invest in a family planner to get recipes and lists organized.
  • Edit your closets.  Make a family event out of picking out, ironing and lining up school and work outfits with your children on a Sunday afternoon. Make sure you get the student handbook out and follow the dress code.
  • Start out early.  Subtract 20 minutes from your family’s morning leave time and make that time your goal. This may allow time to chat and relax before going out the door and can start the day out positive and peaceful. Take a trial run to prevent cranky kids.
  • Make it a good night.  Establish an easy bedtime routine allowing 10-15 minutes each evening for reading together or talking about your day. This establishes a connection with your child that helps them get the Zzzs they need for a stress free day.
  • Family dates.  Schedule date nights for the whole family. Whether it’s going to a family event at the Y, making a meal together or taking a walk, there are many small things that can reduce stress and make lasting memories during the school year.  

The Makings of a Strong Community in Osceola County

At the Y, we are determined to provide a place where the community can come to be healthy, active, connected and secure. Increasing unemployment rates and foreclosures brought a lot of negative attention to Osceola County, driving business to divest in this area. Yet, when other businesses backed out of the community, the Y stepped in and was determined to be the spark that ignited change and hope in the people that needed us most.

To drive positive change we knew we needed a rejuvenated Osceola County YMCA. A place that could serve as a community hub, where we could nurture life lessons in kids, foster health and well-being among people of all ages, bring people together to pursue passions old and new, and provide mutual support for everyone in our neighborhoods. Now, with the completion of the 10,000 square feet renovation of our Osceola County YMCA, the surrounding community is finding more opportunities to come together than ever before. And lives are being changed.

Our cause for building a bigger and better Osceola Y was centered on building a stronger community through resources and programs that get kids active and using their spare time constructively; fight chronic illnesses, like obesity and diabetes which have become epidemics in our society; and, make our entire community healthier, united and strong. In just a few short months, we’ve engaged more people in swimming activities, connected more people to health and wellness resources, and brought together our diverse neighborhoods all in an effort to forge a supportive, nurturing, and unified community. Here is one among many examples of the impact we have made in this community to date.


April Adams is a mother of triplets, and before she came to the Y working out seemed like a daunting task.  Keeping up with three boys was hard enough. How could she possibly find the time to maintain a workout routine and pay for a babysitter? Our Osceola YMCA child development center stood in the gap for April, like we do for many moms who are just trying to live healthy lives.

As she dropped her three boys off at our child development center, her worries of leaving her children alone melted as she met the child development staff.  April was free to focus on her health and she has kept up her routine for a few years now.  The Osceola County YMCA not only reduces stress within the Adams family, but it provides a healthy and nurturing environment for the triplets.

“Our boys ask every day when we put them to bed if we are going to the Y the next day.  With the addition to extra programs that the Y offers, our boys were able to participate in their first soccer clinic which taught them values and built their confidence,” said April Adams. 


The Osceola County YMCA renovation project was made possible through the collaboration of the private and public sector. Under the leadership of Mary Jane Arrington, Osceola County Supervisor of Elections, $250,000 was raised. Dr. Phillips Charities, committed to helping people help themselves in this county, matched these funds with a generous donation of $1.5 million. Without them, the impact we are seeing today in the Kissimmee community would not have been possible.


Our Osceola County YMCA is located in a community that is economically challenged, in need of financial assistance and support from caring neighbors. That’s why the Y re-invests operational revenues in underserved areas like Kissimmee and reaches out to this community with membership and program fees that reflect the area’s average household income. We also provide financial assistance in the form of member scholarships for those who need just a little help with dues. Why does the Y do this? Because, at the Y, we welcome everyone and want everyone in Osceola County to benefit from the resources the Y has to offer kids, adults, seniors and families to help them learn, grow and strive.


At the Y, we have a vision for the makings of a strong community: we see a community that unites and empowers every single person to stay healthy, active and connected. To this end, we are bringing the Kissimmee community together for a week-long celebration starting Saturday, August 25th and concluding with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Community Celebration on Thursday, August 30th. We invite the community to join us as we celebrate our diverse neighborhoods with daily activities that reflect a taste of the world. You can participate in the family-friendly activities created specifically for the celebration, tour the renovated Y facility or simply try a group exercise class. It’s up to you.

Join us as we celebrate our commitment to the health and community of Osceola. Call the Osceola County YMCA at 407.847.7413 for more details.



Amazing things happen when our limits are stretched. As the Olympic Games get started, we want our members to have fun as a team and clear personal hurdles with our 6-week YMCA Olympic Challenge. Whether its swimming laps or taking a yoga class that intimidates you, we want you to be adventurous and try something new.


  • Finish 12 activities and win GOLD.
  • Finish 9 activities and win SILVER.
  • Finish 6 activities and win BRONZE.

We dare you to complete 24 activities during July 23 – August 31. You must do at least 20 minutes of activity to count. Each person that signs up will get guest passes to invite a friend. Celebrations will follow in September.

Sign up at the Welcome Desk at your local Y. RSVP and talk about the challenge on Facebook. Activities included in our challenge are:


  • Clubs – Running/Walking
  • Indoor Cycling
  • Yoga
  • Zumba
  • Cardio Strength
  • Pilates
  • Running
  • Bring a Friend
  • Friends Sign Up – Membership
  • Weights – Circuits
  • Fitlinxx
  • Coach Approach
  • Lap Swimming
  • Water Exercise
  • Adult Swim Lessons
  • Basketball
  • Handball
  • Tennis
  •  Treadmill
  • Elliptical without arms
  • Elliptical with arms
  • Recumbent Bike
  • Upright Bike
  • AMT
  • Arc Trainer
  • Stairmaster
  • Rowing Machine



2011 Annual Report

The Y sees the potential where others might not. This year’s Annual Report was WE SEE. We are proud to share with you the outstanding accomplishments the Y is making in Central Florida. Our Annual Report allows you to see our mission in action. Our history has been marked by undeniable accomplishments in face of the challenges of changing times, but more than anything, what marks our history is our commitment to helping people.

2011 Annual Report

Howie’s Story

Howie Apple is an inspiration to many. As an aging athlete he wanted to stay as active as he could, then he got the news that he had Parkinson’s Disease. Over the last several years, the Crosby YMCA Wellness Center has become central to the quality of his life.

Howie always enjoyed an active lifestyle. He was a tennis player and skier in Cleveland, and later took up running and bicycling in Tampa.

Then, three years ago, he found himself at the Crosby YMCA Wellness Center via the Florida Hospital physical therapy program after a broken collarbone and ribs put him out of commission.  With the help of the Crosby staff, he started a weight lifting program and indoor cycling.


Not too long after that, Howie was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after having hand tremor symptoms. There has been a significant amount of Parkinson’s in his family including his uncle, mother, and sister which taught him first-hand how debilitating it can be.


His career background is BioMedical Engineering, during which he designed products like patient monitoring instruments, an automatic noninvasive blood pressure machine like the Y uses, and laser vision correction treatments.  After his Parkinson’s diagnosis he began to research Parkinson’s Disease topics, to see what technological advances were coming.  He found research papers that showed that cycling exercise for Parkinson’s patients is often effective in reducing symptoms.  It’s not a cure but can perhaps delay progression.


Now, one of Howie’s life goals is to see what Stationary Cycling can do for himself and other Parkinson’s patients.  In conjunction with the Crosby YMCA, Florida Hospital, the Winter Park Hospital Foundation, and the nonprofit Pedaling for Parkinson’s Foundation, we’ve developed a plan to offer a pilot 8 week Pedaling for Parkinson’s program.  Howie is leading the way by being the Cycling Instructor and he looks forward to working with other Y members to try to improve quality of life for Parkinson’s patients.


For more information or to register for the Pedaling for Parkinson’s Program contact Terri Callanan at 407.644.3606 or [email protected].

Our difference: Addressing Childhood Obesity

A visit from Michelle Obama


At about 3:30 pm on Tuesday, July 10 2012 two White House secret service representatives approached our Blanchard Park YMCA Camp coordinator and requested a private meeting with her. They said, “We want to let you know Michelle Obama is on her way to this Y location to spend time with the kids in your Summer Camp program”.


It turns out, the White House had been scoping-out the Y for a week and felt this was a program that clearly aligned with the First Lady’s child obesity platform.


So, why did the First Lady choose the YMCA among other health and fitness organizations in the Orlando area?  That is clear; the YMCA is more than a swim and gym. We are a cause driven organization that advocates and addresses pressing issues in our communities. One clear example of this is our Summer Camp Programs.


Hosted at YMCA of Central Florida Family Center locations, our Summer Camp Programs are all about:


  • Curbing childhood obesity and improving children’s health and well-being through ongoing activities planned as part of our program curriculum and nutrition guidance through tips and information shared with kids and parents.  
  • Reducing Family Stress by providing an option for parents to leave their children during work hours in a healthy, secure and nurturing environment like the YMCA and in a program that keeps the kids active with plenty of planned activities designed to keep them moving and learning.
  • Improving Literacy by exposing children to books and learning activities that emphasize reading.
  • Teaching values by demonstrating the values of caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and faith while kids interact with each other during camp activities.    


We invite you to get your child or those of your friends and neighbors involved in any of our Y of Central Florida youth development programs. From swimming to diving, from basketball to soccer, from kid fitness to camps, all of our program aim to nurture the potential of our kids and produce healthier, more successful and connected kids across our communities.


Or, simply join in to help curb childhood obesity by providing healthier snacks and foods to kids, substituting TV time with activities that keep children active, and exposing kids to books on subjects they like reading about to inspire a passion for learning.



Remembering a Y Champion, Bert Roper

The Y family and the entire community lost a champion, philanthropist, scientist, mentor, teacher and wonderful friend on Wednesday, July 4.  Bert Roper, who started his career tending citrus trees for 10 cents an hour and became a citrus giant and inventor died after a short battle with lymphoma.  He left a legacy that will continue to impact the Central Florida community and remind us of his generosity and mission.

The entire Roper family is dedicated to philanthropy. More than that, though, they are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to build a healthier community. That’s why the Ropers have a long-standing relationship with the Y of Central Florida.

They have been involved at every level of our organization—as members, volunteers, and Family Center and Metro Board members. Through their generosity and support, we have been able to build high quality facilities and design programs that benefit all members of our community. At the Family Center that bears their name, the Ropers were instrumental in helping us to build a swimming pool and aquatics program, an effort that has contributed to the safety of our children and brought numerous West Orange families together in a fun, healthy and vibrant environment. The Ropers commitment was the catalyst in transforming the Roper YMCA Family Center (formerly the West Orange YMCA Family Center) into a 35,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, where over 700 kids come together to play.

Bert Roper and his family’s dedication to the Y is a perfect example of the crucial role our partners play in our mission.

“Bert’s Leadership has impacted the community now and for future generations. Bert was a remarkable man with a zest for life. He will be dearly missed. The entire Roper Family is in our Prayers. God Bless – Barbara and the Roper Family,” said Jim Ferber, CEO and President of the YMCA of Central Florida.

THE COACH APPROACH®: Keeping People Active

Last year, we kicked off THE COACH APPROACH® a customized, one-on-one support program that helps individuals stick to a fitness routine and keeps them active. The program was developed by medical professionals in response to a shocking new research finding: 98% of the population does not exercise as much as they need to. This statistic can lead to serious diseases and bad health. At the Y we are focused on the prevention of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, which is why we introduced THE COACH APPROACH® program. It is a tool we offer our community that puts them on a path to wellness.


This valuable program is part of a Y membership and allows members to be paired with a YMCA personal wellness coach who will help you work through your exercise-related challenges.


We’ve already seen results from participants that are adopting healthy habits and changing the way they live their daily lives. Over 4,500 members have enrolled in THE COACH APPROACH® program and are sticking with a regular exercise routine.




Blanchard Park Y member, Franny Roy, shared that she was suffering from depression, body aches and insecurity before she started working with her wellness coach Mary Austin.


She says, “There are so many classes at the Y.  The classes I like best since I endured joint pain from car accidents are: Silver Sneakers, Basic Fitness, Zumba, Chair Yoga and Lap Swimming. Good nutrition is helping me see doctors less. My husband is happy, too. I have learned to heal in many ways and I am enjoying the healthy and miraculous benefits of getting fit at the Y. THANK YOU TO MY COACH, MARY AUSTIN!”


Enroll Today


If you haven’t exercised 2-3 days a week consistently for 6 months or longer, then THE COACH APPROACH® program is designed for you. To begin your wellness journey to a healthier lifestyle, contact your local YMCA Family Center in Central Florida.

Annual Gathering: Honoring our Volunteers & Donors

At the YMCA of Central Florida, we depend on our volunteers and donors to move our cause forward daily. On June 14, we brought over 300 volunteers, donors, and members together at our Tangelo Park YMCA to honor the men and women who have made possible for us to impact the lives of many throughout Central Florida.

Our Annual Gathering is held every year and we present three awards to volunteers who pledged countless hours to advancing our Y cause.

The John Sterchi Award was given to Chas Bailes for generous lifetime support of the YMCA of Central Florida.  The Ronnie Walker Unsung Hero Award was presented to Paul Jagoe who demonstrates positive character values that are the cornerstone of this organization – caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and faith. The Dr. P. Phillips Champion of Youth Award was given to Leonard Williams, Sr. for helping enrich the lives of children and youth in Central Florida.

During our meeting we introduced our new board members: Dr. Ron Piccolo, Allison Turnbull, Dr. Tony Waldrop, Dr. Deb German and Donna Dozier Gordon. Our new officers for 2012-2013 are: Chairman Helena Ryan, Secretary Ralph Martinez, Treasurer Mike Manuel, Past Chair Sandy Hostetter, Trustee Clarence Otis, Jr., Trustee Barbara Roper and Trustee Tom Warlick. You can view our entire board on our Leadership Team page.

This year’s Annual Gathering location, our Tangelo Park Y, is one of our eleven Outreach Ys that has created meaningful change in the lives of kids through the Y Golf and Learning Center program. With the help of Orange County, we are able to make use of the golf hitting cage, putting green and sand bunker. Our donors and volunteers spend time teaching kids how to learn the sport, but also provide homework help and teach values like honesty and respect.  The program also allows people to come together through community events that keep kids of the street.

We showcased the Tangelo Park Y programs and facility to key volunteers and donors at our Annual Gathering. We hope to get more people involved, so that together we can expand the Y Golf & Learning Center program to our other outreach Ys, including Wayne Densch YMCA, South Orlando YMCA and Osceola County YMCA.

View more Annual Gathering photos on Facebook.


Find out how to volunteer at the Y.

Annual Support Campaign

People don’t realize that the Y is more than a swim and gym. In fact, the Y is a cause that provides members with a way to connect in a secure environment and help neighbors right in their own communities. And we are happy to report that the connection and caring is stronger than ever.

One way we help those in need in our communities is through our Annual Support Campaign. Our donors pledge their generous gifts to keep our programs running smoothly and support members who are in need or are facing temporary hardship due to the changing economy. 

1,648 men and women are committed to volunteering their time, money and energy to advance our cause: strengthening communities. To date, we have raised over $1.5 million that keeps our doors open so we can serve Central Florida. We rely on volunteers who share about our cause. All of what we do would not be possible without the people who give to the Y.

Over fifty-one percent of all Y members in our 11 Outreach Ys (located in communities with scarce resources) receive scholarships to keep kids engaged in after school programs and introduce them to new sports like golf, provide adults with tools to adopt a healthy lifestyle, families with events so they can enjoy time together, and other programs designed to address pressing issues in our communities. In 2011, we provided more than $5.2 million in scholarships & subsidies to over 31,500 kids, families, adults and seniors.

Because of people like you, we can save a kid’s life by teaching them to swim. We can build confidence in kids while they work on their swing at the Tangelo Park Y Golf and Learning Center. We can prevent disease like obesity and diabetes from spreading throughout Central Florida. We can provide teens with the values they need to become a role model for someone else. We can keep our Seniors connected and with the spirit of independence they once valued.

At the Y, we need people like you. Get involved.

YMCA Aquatic Center Hosts International Competition

At the Y, developing the minds of our youth is just as important as coaching them in basketball or teaching them how to swim.  That’s why we are hosting the 11th Annual MATE International ROV Competition in our own YMCA Aquatic Center during June 21 – 23. We are working together, because the MATE Center and the Y have similar goals with respect to education programs. No other YMCA has hosted an educational event of this magnitude before.


We are opening our doors to more than 50 teams from middle schools, high schools, home schools, after-school clubs, community colleges and universities around the world. The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center coordinates an underwater robotics (remotely operated vehicle or ROV) competition with the goal of getting students excited about science technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The Y of Central Florida collaborates with educators, business leaders and local governments to develop unique learning environments that support academic achievement and high performance in schools.  We’ve partnered with Lockheed Martin Corporation to establish the Technology Center at our South Orlando Y, which provides students at neighboring community schools with an opportunity to explore careers in math and science that play a significant role in Central Florida’s economic development.


In February, we hosted the Red Tail Pilots Tribute Event where we brought our community together to show youth that math and science careers are great options to building a better future.  Kids were inspired by the historic Red Tail Pilots who told stories about moving forward against all odds.


We are determined to teach kids how important math and science skills are to the community and the world. The Y of Central Florida is creating technical programs and opportunities in our local community and the MATE Center is using an international ROV competition to reach the same goal – to motivate students to study STEM and pursue careers in STEM fields.


We welcome students and leaders from around the world who are developing the ability to problem solve, think critically, and work as a part of a team. Together, we can help develop the minds of young people in Central Florida and around the world.

Keeping Kids’ Minds & Bodies Active this Summer

Most adults remember their childhood summers as a time when kids and families were active and outdoors, spending time swimming, reading, hiking, and taking family vacations. Maybe they remember eating healthy fruits like watermelon and vegetables like corn-on-the-cob. But for most Americans this reality is far from this picture.


As school doors close during the summer, many children face safety concerns, laziness, learning loss, risk for obesity, and food insecurity which set children back developmentally and academically.
The Y of Central Florida recognizes summer as an opportunity to develop the potential of our children. During Healthy Kids Day we encouraged parents and kids to TAKE ON SUMMER by committing to keeping the body and mind active this summer. That’s why the Y of Central Florida is implementing reading activities in our camps and providing summer activities to keep kids healthy.

Here are a few tips you can use to keep your kid’s mind and body active this summer.

Reading Tips for Keeping Minds Active 

  • Create a calendar. Help your child feel in control of their summer vacation by laying out a calendar and ask them to fill it in with certain educational activities. For example, “When I get up in the morning, after breakfast, that’s when I’m going to start my reading for the day.”
  • Read together. Make sure your child picks the books that they want to read and take their time reading. If you are a working parent, take 15 minutes before bed and read a book together, especially if it is a more challenging book.
  • Every day. Encourage your child to read daily if it fits into your schedule. Offer incentives for reading. A good stretch to read is 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Consistency is key. The goal is to set a time of 20 minutes, but they say they want to keep going. You want them to become hooked to reading. As a parent, read a book while your child is reading to model consistency.

 Tips for Keeping Bodies Active

  • Take a family class. The Y provides family classes so that families can get healthy together. Working out together can bring you closer and keep you motivated and encouraged.
  • Transform the family room. Sometimes family rooms are the center for laziness: a comfy couch, video games, and the television. Place subtle reminders that promote physical activity: resistance bands, dumbbells, a yoga mat, and a jump rope. These small reminders will get you moving in no time.
  • Make chores fun. One thing that sets summer apart for kids is the list of chores that parents leave during the day. Instead of delegating each member of the family to do separate chores, turn chores into a game you can all do together. Race to see how fast you can get the house cleaned.
  • Keep toys handy. Stashing balls, racquets, jump ropes, hula hoops and such in your garage can encourage your kids will find something to do.


Find programs at your Y that can keep your kids active mentally and physically.

Keep Kids Active, Reduce Family Stress

At a time when Central Florida families face mounting challenges and stress posed by a tumultuous economy, the Y is continuing to be a beacon of hope that provides options for parents and kids to live happier and healthier lives.

Managing stress through activities has never been more necessary, especially for our kids. The American Psychological Association reports that 46 percent of Americans feel significant worry when it comes to providing for their families’ basic needs, and anxieties like these take a hefty toll on both parents’ and kids’ well-being.


Studies show that one of the best ways to reduce stress is through physical activity. Being active can boost your feel good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.


The Y is determined to be the place where families stay active and fight the daily stresses of life.




Last week, on Healthy Kids Day we opened our doors to everyone and celebrated healthy living all over Central Florida with free activities. We encouraged thousands of parents and kids to TAKE ON SUMMER by committing to keeping kids brains and bodies active during these crucial summer months. Parents were given tips and tools, kids participated in team relays and volunteers taught families new and unique ways to stay active.




74 percent of parents opt to spend family time with their kids sitting in front of the TV. We want to flatten this statistic with our youth sports program. The Y is the starting point for many youth to learn about becoming and staying active, and developing healthy habits they’ll carry with them throughout their lives. Participating in sports at the Y is about building the whole child, from the inside out. A few reasons for kids to join one of our youth programs are:


  • Staying active which leads to a healthier life
  • Gaining confidence that comes from learning something new
  • Building positive relationships
  • Instilling values like good sportsmanship and teamwork




We build lasting relationships in our community, so we can see lifelong change. We equip families with new strategies and resources that will lead to a healthier and a less stressful life. Among the best changes you can begin making at home together are:


  • Involve the whole family in meal planning, preparation and clean-up
  • Eat more meals together as a family
  • Provide each child with one-on-one time every day
  • Designate one night a week for walks, bowling, bike rides, roller skating or the park
  • Serve fruits and vegetables at most meals; include a whole-grain or protein option with every snack


If you and your family are feeling stressed, know that you are not alone. Visit one of our 24 locations and start living a healthier life.



How does your family handle stress?

Safe Start Celebrates 10 Years & 10,000 Children

More than 10,000 children – some as young as six months old – have learned life-saving techniques in the water over the past 10 years as part of Safe Start, the innovative water safety program launched by the YMCA of Central Florida with support from the Dr. Phillips Charities in 2002.


We invite you to celebrate the lives that have been changed. Join us at the 10th Anniversary of Safe Start as the Y recognizes the success of this vital program to kick off Central Florida’s pool season at the Aquatic Center YMCA on April 19. We need you there, not only to celebrate, but to make people aware that water safety is crucial to living a healthy Central Floridian lifestyle.


    • WHAT:     10th Anniversary of Safe Start
    • WHEN:     April 19, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
    • WHERE:   YMCA Aquatic Center
      8422 International Drive
      Orlando, FL 32819
    • RSVP:       Debbie Korba at 407-895-4296 or [email protected]




Swim lessons don’t normally create hype at our pools, but when Bronx enters the pool with the help of his dad and his instructor, people can’t help but watch.  Bronx rotates on his back from a facedown position and floats to the side of the pool with a big smile on his face. His parents are proud and amazed at this accomplishment, because Bronx is only 20-months-old and was fearful of the water a few weeks before. During this 10-minute lesson, he is not only building confidence around the water, but learning life-saving techniques that will stick with him forever.




With over 11,000 miles of waterways throughout Florida, our state loses children under age five to drowning more than anywhere else. The Y of Central Florida, the only association across the nation to offer Safe Start instruction at its Family Centers since 2002. By taking on this leading cause of preventable childhood death and injury, the Y is committed to providing this needed resource to families and keeping swimmers of all ages safe in the water.


“My son ventured onto a dock and fell into the water near a boat hoist,” said Carrie Ferenac, local parent, “Before my husband and I could get into the water, he had flipped over, and was floating – tennis shoes and all. It all happened in a matter of seconds and I was so relieved that the lessons he learned from Safe Start helped him survive. All children deserve a safe start with water.”


For more information about Safe Start instruction, please find Safe Start at a Y near you or visit or call 407-599-0167.


Do you have a Safe Start story? Share.

Press Releases

Strengthening Osceola

Renovation Update: Phase 2 Complete

More people in Osceola County are creating healthy relationships, teens are getting off the streets and people are living healthier lives. Our impact is being felt deeper and wider because we are able to welcome more of our neighbors in our Osceola Y, including our Latin community.

Just recently, our Director of Wellness Mariana Gonzalez was on Revista “InfoMas”, a program of Bright House Networks. She spoke to the Latin community about the improvements made to our Osceola Y and how it would affect their community. The interview will be seen on channel 900 between March 26 and March 30.

Our Osceola Y’s doors are being opened to everyone creating something new and exciting where so many families have been hurting. The determination of our employees and volunteers has paid off by bringing the community a place where they can feel safe, be engaged and learn healthy life skills.

The Osceola Y improvements are bringing renewed strength and energy to this community, thanks to Dr. Phillips Charities and Mary Jane Arrington. These renovations will make the Osceola Y one of our largest YMCAs in Central Florida and connect more neighbors with one another and the community.

Phase 2 of the Osceola County Y is complete and open to members today. Healthier lives and disease prevention will be a result of our new improvements, which include:

  • A New State of the Art Wellness Floor
  • Adult Locker Rooms
  • Exterior Signage
  • Exterior Paint
  • Furniture in the Pulse Area

Landscaping improvement will begin in the next few weeks.

By coming together we can change lives and impact our Osceola community like never before. In April alone, we are hosting numerous opportunities to unite communities of every background. Our Grand Re-Opening will be held in May and will be open to everyone.

Join us.


  • 3rdHealth Fair with Florida Hospital along with selected health companies
  • 7thChillin’ n Grillin’ Easter poolside egg hunt, water relays/games and family water class
  • 27thOlder Adults in Action/SilverSneakers event
  • 28thHealthy Kid’s Day with zumba for kids, gymnastics, sports field events and more.


Contact Rebecca Duran at 407.847.7413 or [email protected] for more information.

Taking Action to Prevent Diabetes

At the Y, we know that healthier communities are stronger communities. That’s why we are working hard to ensure that you to learn your risk for type 2 diabetes and take action to prevent it.




Unhealthy eating and declining physical activity has led to an explosion of type 2 diabetes.  Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and a staggering 79 million people have prediabetes, a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 8.5-10.1 percent of adults in Central Florida are diagnosed with diabetes.




The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a group-based lifestyle change program designed for high-risk adults. The program provides a supportive environment where participants work together in a small group to learn about healthier eating, and increasing their physical activity in order to reduce their risk for developing diabetes. Individuals who participate in the program take part in 16 one-hour weekly classroom sessions with a trained Lifestyle Coach. Following these sessions, participants meet monthly for up to a year for added support in reaching their ultimate goals of reducing body weight by 7 percent and participating in 150 minutes of physical activity every week.



    • My blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or I have been told I have high blood pressure.
    • I have been told that my cholesterol levels are elevated.
    • I am fairly inactive. I am NOT physically active more than two times a week.
    • I have or had a parent or sibling with diabetes.
    • I have had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or have given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
    • I am 45 years of age or older.




If 2 or more bullets above describe you, then you may be at risk for diabetes and may qualify for the program. Your first step towards diabetes prevention is registering for the YMCA Diabetes Prevention program today.


18th Annual Celebration of Prayer


Join us as we bring the community together for our 18th annual YMCA Celebration of Prayer on April 5. We will be hearing from our special guest speaker, Gigi Graham. She wants to share a message of faith and inspiration with you and nearly a thousand community and business leaders during Central Florida’s prayer breakfast. The celebration takes place from 7:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Orlando located at 3000 S. John Young Parkway.

Gigi, is the eldest daughter of Christian evangelist Billy Graham. She is also an award-winning author and inspirational speaker. She is the author of Currents of the Heart, Passing It On and A Quiet Knowing.  Gigi’s faith grew in large part because of her Christian upbringing. Her father, Billy Graham, preached the Gospel to more people than ever in history. She uses her varied experiences both good and bad to stress the fact that we cannot look to anyone or anything to be to us what only Jesus can be.


Although she comes from a well-known Christian family, Gigi feels that like the rest of us, she herself is a work in progress. She says she comes from an ordinary family who share the same problems very family has but that for some reason was chosen by a wonderful God to serve Him in an unusual way.


The Y’s reason for being remains unchanged, and we are committed to strengthening the community by connecting individuals, inspiring leaders and providing community solutions through spiritual growth.


“The Celebration of Prayer is a unique opportunity to celebrate the YMCA Christian heritage and mission that has guided our organization for over 150 years,” states YMCA of Central Florida President and CEO Jim Ferber.


Everyone is welcome as we celebrate the arrival of the Easter season. Come and be a part of our mission by putting Christian principles into practice.


Tables are available for $250 and individual seats are $35 each. Please call Debbie Korba at (407) 895-4296 or email at [email protected] to reserve your ticket.


Celebrate with us.

Creating New Opportunities for Kids


We are passionate about nurturing the potential of every child in our community.  That’s why we are bringing the community together at the Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge for our Tangelo Park Golf Tournament, March 9.

This inaugural golf tournament provides the means for our education initiative in Tangelo Park to move forward. We are determined to offer the best programs and facilities for our kids.



Our Y Golf & Learning Center is a combination learning and golf program. After golf lessons, we help kids with homework help and offer tutoring programs. Exposure to the world of golf will provide students with the opportunity to participate in a sport that will prepare them to make educational and career choices.

We will unveil our Satellite Technology Center, this month, sponsored by Lockheed Martin.  This program exposes children and teens to future STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering & Math career options.

Our After School Program that serves 4,100 kids in 28 elementary and middle schools will be coming to Tangelo Park Elementary School in the fall of 2012.  This educational program provides kids with the tools they need to succeed in school while providing a safe environment.

Teen Achievers and Middle School Achievers are career and post-secondary readiness programs that engage 1500 students from 18 middle and high school students.

Join our Tangelo Park Golf Tournament as we strengthen our communities. When you give to the Y, you help strengthen our community by making a meaningful, enduring impact right in your own neighborhood. The Y has a greater vision for making a bigger impact on education and so can you.

For information please contact Mina Ford: style=”color: [email protected] or 407.351.3584.

Prayer Brings People Together

At the Y, we are determined to stand by our mission to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.  That’s why we bring the community together so that we can bring about lasting and personal change. United, we advance our mission to improve all lives in Central Florida.


Join us as we bring the Brevard community together for our 8th annual Brevard County Prayer Breakfast on March 9. We will be hearing from our special guest speaker, Gerald P. Carr. As a NASA Astronaut, Carr gained a unique outlook of faith while orbiting the earth over 84 days.


Carr is a retired United States Marine Corps colonel and former NASA astronaut. He was commander of Skylab-4 the third and final manned visit to the Skylab Orbital Workshop, from November 16, 1973 to February 8, 1978. Carr and his four Skylab teammates shared the world record for individual time in space. He has logged more than 8,000 flying hours during his military career.


Be encouraged and uplifted by your community.


Join us.


  • When: March 9, 2012 at 7:30 AM
  • Where: Cocoa Civic Center
  • Cost: $30 per seat/ $225 per table (8 settings)
  • For more information, please contact Jill Bond at 321-433-7696 or at [email protected].

Basketball Builds Stronger Communities

At the Y, we believe that all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. Our basketball programs  provide thousands of youth today with values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors and better health. Lives are changed in our gyms and fields that impact our communities and our world.

Basketball and the Y have a unique relationship. As Central Florida steps into the spotlight during this weekend’s NBA All-Star events, read how basketball has played a significant role in the development of our community written by our CEO, Jim Ferber.

You can also see a video of our kids recreating All-Star slam dunks at our Golden Triangle Y.

The Y, Where Communities Come Together



We gathered our Central Florida community yesterday to introduce new math and science tools that kids need to pursue careers in engineering and aviation. Students were able to learn from the Tuskegee Airmen who were determined to persevere in the midst of adversity.  Just like the pilots were determined, the Y is determined to help kids reach their potential by developing programs and opportunities.


Hundreds, including many children and teens, gathered together at our South Orlando Y to hear about the airmen’s adventures. The pilots were encouraged to see so many young people learn about their careers. Lieutenant Colonel Leo Gray, Lieutenant Colonel Hiram Mann and Lieutenant Colonel George Hardy, were among the country’s first black military aviation pilots who escorted bomber planes in Europe during World War II.  Hardy, 86, of Sarasota, one of the youngest Tuskegee Airmen, flew 21 combat missions over Germany. Students were given the platform to ask questions to the airmen. The pilot’s stories encouraged students to be their best and that they could do anything once they set their mind to it.


Children and teens participated in the Lockheed Martin Trade Fair activities which include demonstrations of Lockheed technologies:


  • Joint Strike Fighter “Hot Seat” Simulator
  • Gyrocam sensor system
  • Laser scanning optics
  • Thermal Imaging



Defense contractor Lockheed Martin  presented both the Y and nearby Oak Ridge High School with donations to encourage students to pursue careers in aviation.


“We joined forces with the Y to invest in future leaders for this community and for Lockheed Martin,” said company vice president John Varley.


See Orlando Sentinel’s Video and Article about our event.





World’s Largest Cardio Class

February 25, 10:00 a.m. – The Y of Central Florida is bringing the community together to celebrate American Heart Month by hosting the World’s Largest Cardio Class in Central Florida. All Y Family Centers will simultaneously host a free group fitness class featuring a mash-up of popular cardiovascular exercise programs including Zumba, step aerobics and boot camp.

We invite you to join us as the Y brings the community together on February 25 at 10 a.m. at your neighborhood YMCA. All of our 27 locations will be participating. You’ll experience a variety of cardiovascular exercises that prevent heart disease and promote wellness, including Zumba, step aerobics and boot camp. All while meeting neighbors who share similar health and fitness goals.

Together with the support of the Y, you can encourage each other to improve the overall health and wellness of our communities. Expert wellness coaches will be on hand to provide tips for maintaining a regular fitness routine. All Y Family Centers across Central Florida will simultaneously host a free group fitness class.

We want you to be a part of something bigger and strengthen your heart while you’re doing it.  Save up to $138 when you join before February 29.


Find a location nearest you and join us February 25.


BRING A GUEST – members who bring a guest will receive a YMCA gift.
Guests must be:

  • Central Florida Resident
  • Registered to participate in class
  • 18 years of age or older
  • First time 2012 visitor


Will you be there?

Red Tail Pilots Tribute Event

Be part of something bigger – Bringing our community together to inspire our youth


Come together as we show Central Florida youth that math and science careers are great options to a building a better future. We’re advancing our cause to strengthen communities by creating new programs that promote youth development. When we are united, we can make a stronger impact on our youth.


The Y and its community partners, like Lockheed Martin Corporation, are enhancing our commitment to provide innovative opportunities that encourage math and science interests among students with its new “Vision of Flight” Aviation Technology Program. The program is designed to complement the proposed Aviation and Aerospace Engineering Magnet at nearby Oak Ridge High School. The “Vision of Flight” Program will launch with a special visit from the legendary Tuskegee Airmen on Monday, February 20.

The Tuskegee Airmen, whom belonged to the elite fighter squadron known as the Red Tail Pilots, were the first African American military aviators in the United States armed forces.  During World War II, they overcame the racially segregated American military and flew with distinction.


The men’s legacies impact us still by encouraging us to persevere in the midst of adversity. At the Y, we believe in overcoming obstacles and bridging gaps. We are helping our communities conquer their own barriers by giving back and launching new programs that empower them to live better lives.


At the event, we will honor Lieutenant Colonel Leo Gray, Lieutenant Colonel Hiram Mann and Lieutenant Colonel George Hardy, Red Tail Pilots who inspire us to move forward against the odds. They will answers audience questions, so we can learn from their experiences that kept them determined and hopeful of the future.


The Central Florida community is also invited to participate in the Lockheed Martin Trade Fair activities which include demonstrations of Lockheed technologies:



  • Joint Strike Fighter “Hot Seat” Simulator
  • Gyrocam sensor system
  • Laser scanning optics
  • Thermal Imaging


Be part of something bigger than a health club. Join the Y of Central Florida as we host and join forces with Oak Ridge High School, the Federal Aviation Association, the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and Lockheed Martin to honor the Red Tail Pilots and showcase how a career based on math and science interests is a rewarding option for our Central Florida youth.




When:          Monday, February 20, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Where:         South Orlando YMCA

Address:       814 W. Oak Ridge Road, Orlando, Florida 32809

Phone:          407.855.2430

Cost:            Free. Open to all Central Florida Residents.

RSVP:          Required. Please send an email to Kisha Bea at [email protected].

Food:            Refreshments provided.


The YMCA of Central Florida works in close collaboration with educators, business leaders and local governments to develop unique learning environments that support academic achievement and high performance in schools. Its partnership with Lockheed Martin Corporation helped establish the Technology Center at South Orlando YMCA, which provides students at neighboring community schools with an opportunity to explore careers in math and science that play a significant role in Central Florida’s economic development.


Will you join us?

What Social Responsibility means at the Y

It’s time to re-introduce ourselves. We are the Y of Central Florida – an inclusive organization of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurture the potential of kids, promote healthy living and foster a sense of social responsibility.

No other organization touches as many lives as we do. In fact, most other non-profit organizations have a small footprint in one or two neighborhoods, but our footprint spreads across hundreds of communities in six Central Florida counties –Orange, Seminole, Osceola,Lake, Marion and Brevard – where we offer opportunities for everyone to reach their highest potential in spirit, mind and body.

As a leading non-profit, we are most proud of our focus on social responsibility. So what does that mean? Simple, it means we give back and support our communities with programs, financial assistance and resources that build strong communities and create enduring impact in the lives of community residents every day.

Making Support Accessible to All

At the Y of Central Florida, our goal is to make all we offer accessible and available to the entire Central Florida community. One of the most significant ways we do this is through our Annual Support Campaign. Each year we raise money so that we can provide services to those who could not otherwise afford it or address pressing issues faced in our diverse communities.

Changing Lives Daily

Each year, we provide opportunities for over 230,000 kids, families, seniors and adults in wellness, aquatics, youth sports, summer camp, child care, after school care and much more.

Committed to Strengthening Worthy Communities

Many of our Ys are located in communities that are economically challenged and are in need of financial assistance. Our board, staff and major partners are committed to these Ys and neighborhoods. Most come from humble beginnings, small with little or no equipment or resources. Today all of these facilities have been renovated. We work hard to make these places where the communities feel welcome, safe and secure. And our Outreach Ys offer community-specific membership and program fees so that we can be sure all the Y has to offer is accessible to community residents.

DID YOU KNOW?  The Y has privately raised over $26 million to build and keep 9 Ys open in these communities:


  • Blanchard Park YMCA – Our Investment: $5 Million
  • South Orlando YMCA– Our Investment: $5 Million
  • Wayne Densch – Our Investment: $4.5 Million
  • Tangelo Park– Our Investment: $500,000


  • Osceola YMCA – Our Investment: $5 Million


  • South Lake YMCA Programs – Our Investment: $45,000


  • Suntree YMCA – Our Investment: $105,000
  • Titusville YMCA- Our Investment: $3 Million
  • Cocoa YMCA – Our Investment: $2 Million

At the Y, we are committed to giving back and providing support to our neighbors. We have been been doing this for 160 years. Through the Y of Central Florida, thousands of volunteers and hundreds of donors, leaders and partners Florida are empowering people in our communities to be healthy, confident, connected and secure.

Be part of something bigger and get involved with your community today by:


To find out details on how to get involved, visit a neighborhood Y near you.


How do you give back to your community?

Heart Healthy Tips

5 tips to help prevent heart disease


February is American Heart Month, and the Y is in the business of preventing the leading cause of death – heart disease.  Protect your heart with these 5 medication-free steps.


1. No smoking


Smoking or using tobacco is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries. Even so-called “social smoking” — smoking only while at a bar or restaurant with friends — is dangerous and increases the risk of heart disease. The good news, though, is that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops within just one year.


2. 30 minutes a day, keeps the Dr. away


Getting some regular, daily exercise can reduce your risk of fatal heart disease. And when you combine physical activity with other lifestyle measures, such as maintaining a healthy weight, the payoff is even greater. Try getting at lease 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense exercise most days of the week.


  • Strength in numbers. Studies show that people involved in group exercise stick with it longer. See what group exercise classes we offer.
  • Become a green thumb. Gardening gets you outside, and you get the reward of eating healthy.
  • Clean it up. Don’t dread mopping the floors or vacuuming. Just think of it as a little exercise.


3. Food Matters


Eat foods that are low in fat, cholesterol and salt. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products can help protect your heart. Beans, other low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish also can reduce your risk of heart disease.


Learn your fats:


  • Read the fine print. Look for the term “partially hydrogenated” to avoid trans fat.
  • Don’t eat through a window. Deep-fried fast foods are a source of trans fat.
  • Add Omega-3. This type of polyunsaturated fat may decrease your risk of a heart attack.


4. Step on the scales


As you put on weight as an adult, your weight gain is mostly fat rather than muscle. This excess weight can lead to conditions that increase your chances of heart disease.


  • Know your numbers. Calculate your Body Mass Index. Numbers 25 or higher have an increased risk of heart disease.
  • What’s overweight? Men are considered overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches, and for women that number is 35.
  • Start small. Even a 10% weight loss can decrease your blood pressure.


5. Get it checked


You won’t know where to start if you don’t get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked.  Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.


  • Blood Pressure. 120/80 is optimal blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol. Once every 5 years it should be measured.
  • Diabetes screening. First testing is recommended around ages 30 – 45. Learn about our Diabetes Prevention Program.


Which tip inspires you to live healthier?

Improving Lives of our Osceola Community

Renovation Update: Phase 2

Something new and exciting is happening in Osceola County where so many families have been hurting.  Since September, our employees and volunteers have been working around the clock to bring the community an improved Y.  Now, our doors are open revealing an enhanced Osceola Y.  So far, the improvements are making this community healthier and getting children and teens off the streets, thanks to Dr. Phillips Charities and Mary Jane Arrington. These new renovations will make the Osceola Y one of our largest YMCAs in Central Florida and connect more neighbors with one another and the community.

Phase 1 of the Osceola County Y construction project is complete and open to members today. The wellness floor and new equipment is being used and improving health and wellness as we speak.

With Phase 1 completed, the Osceola community will be able to enjoy an Expanded Wellness Center that gives members new ways to get healthy, including:

  • New Studio Cycling Room
  • New Sound Systems in group ex room and spin room
  • New Multipurpose Room for aerobic classes and other uses
  • New State of the Art Wellness Equipment and wellness floor


Phase 2 and final phase is starting now, which will include:

  • Renovation of the old wellness floor
  • New Adult and Family Locker Rooms providing members with convenience and saving time


Join now to get pre-renovation pricing. For pre-renovation pricing details, ask a membership representative at the Osceola Y Welcome Desk.

Improving the Lives of our Osceola Community

Renovation Update 


Why do we need to renovate the Osceola Y? Being the leading county in the state of Florida for foreclosures and one of the hardest hit by the recession, Osceola County is a county in need.  At the Y, we want to help people live better lives. Our renovation will allow us to provide more of the programs, services and initiatives that make healthier communities, get children and teens off the street, help send disadvantaged teens to college and lead the fight against chronic illnesses, in summary, we want to help move our community forward.


Osceola needs a great Y and thanks to Dr. Phillips Charities and Mary Jane Arrington, we are a few steps closer to reinvent the Y to better serve the men, women and children of Osceola County. Arrington led our Osceola County Y Capital Campaign and raised $250,000 and Dr. Phillips Charities contributed a matching $1.5 million toward our Osceola Y.


The Osceola Y expansion will add 10,300 square feet, making it one of our largest YMCAs in Central Florida, and allowing more neighbors to connect with one another and the community.


The new Y will offer a Pulse Area or gathering area designed for members, families and friends can all come together and meet or make new friends as they develop lasting, meaningful relationships.


Help us advance our cause.


Phase 1 of the Osceola County Y construction project will be complete on January 9 and open to members.


With Phase 1 completed, the Osceola community will be able to enjoy an Expanded Wellness Center that gives members new ways to get healthy, including:

  • New Studio Cycling Room
  • New Multipurpose Room for aerobic classes and other uses
  • New State of the Art Wellness Equipment


Phase 2 will then start, including:

  • New Wellness Floor
  • Adult and Family Locker Rooms providing members with convenience and saving time





21st Annual Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy Prayer Breakfast

Bringing Our Community Together

Each year the Y of Central Florida brings hundreds of community and business leaders together to celebrate the lives and legacies of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy, Orlando’s first African-American elected official.  The reason is simple: it supports our legacy as a Christian organization and brings our diverse community together in prayer just as Dr. King and Pappy Kennedy did with their lives.

To honor those who are instrumental in helping improve the lives of the African-American community we choose a lifetime achievement award recipient. Because of our focus on youth development, we also award a scholarship to a deserving student within the community who had exemplified dedication to their community and education.

Our past distinguished guest speakers, like Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, who is known for medical techniques that have pioneered advancements in neurosurgery, leave us empowered and inspired to continue our mission to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. This year, our speaker, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, will deliver a truly inspirational message of unity and strength to the community.  And we have a special performance by world-renowned singer Wintley Phipps who has international recognition, including appearances on Oprah and performances at White House functions.

Together, we honor and celebrate not only Dr. King and Pappy Kennedy but the diversity of our communities. We can use this time to develop stronger, more integrated communities, provide support for people and families, and promote positive change overall.   

Join us as we bring together the community to celebrate the lives and legacies of Pappy Kennedy and Dr. King. Tickets are $45.

  •         Date: January 16, 2012
  •         Time: 7:45 a.m.
  •         Location: First Baptist Church of Orlando, Faith Hall
  •         Address: 3000 S. John Young Parkway Orlando, FL 32805

RSVP BY MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 2012 TO [email protected] OR 407.895.4288

Nutrition or Exercise

We all know that nutrition and exercise are important for our well-being and help us lose weight, but should you focus on one more than the other this New Year?




Research shows that cutting calories through dietary changes seems to promote weight loss more effectively than exercise and physical activity. Most people find it hard to eliminate the amount of calories through exercise that can just be done through proper nutrition. That’s why eating the right food is generally more effective for weight loss. Eating right not only helps you lose weight, but it keeps you healthy too.

Maintaining a balanced diet by healthy eating can:

  • Give you vitality and energy for life
  • Help you stay at a weight that’s right for you
  • Boost your immune system
  • Improve sports performance
  • Delay the effects of aging
  • Ward off serious illnesses like heart disease, certain cancers, mature-age onset diabetes, and gallbladder disease


Exercise Benefits


Physical activity has many proven benefits. It is important because it can help you maintain your weight loss and build strength. People who lose weight and keep it off get regular physical activity. And getting regular exercise can help prevent excess weight gain in the first place.


Maintaining a consistent active lifestyle can:

  • Help prevent diseases like heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases.
  • Improve stamina
  • Strengthen and tone
  • Enhance flexibility
  • Control weight
  • Improve quality of life


The Winner is…


Can’t make up your mind on which is more important? Good. Exercise or nutrition alone is not the best way to live a healthy life.  Doing both– proper nutrition and exercise – can help you lose weight and live a longer life.


Start Small


So what do you need to work on the most this year – nutrition or exercise?


We have to eat everyday to survive, so start out by raiding your food pantry and replacing a bag of chips with fruits and vegetables. Then, instead of turning on the TV when you get home, take a 30 -minute walk around the neighborhood or come to a group exercise class at the Y nearest you.


The Y of Central Florida is a leading voice on health and well-being in our community. We bring families and people closer together, encourage good health and foster connections through fitness, sports, fun and shared interests. As a result, thousands of youth, adults and families are receiving the support, guidance and resources needed to achieve greater health and well-being for their spirit, mind and body.

New Year’s Healthy Living Tips

What will you do this year to be healthier? You may be making bold resolutions on January 1 to eat right and exercise. Here, at the Y of Central Florida, we encourage you to think small and reach your goal – one focused step at a time. Why not start out with these few healthy living tips?


New Year’s Healthy Living Tip No. 1: Eat Sensibly


Look for healthy eating options rather than fad diets. Resolve to get more fiber in your diet this year like more fish or fresh fruit. Any diet change is easier if you take slow, small steps. For example:


  • Vow to add a veggies or fruits to your brown bag lunch daily.
  • Cook at home at least once per week.
  • Package up a single serving of your favorite whole-grain cereal, then treat it as your mid-morning snack.


New Year’s Healthy Living Tip No 2: Cleanse your Body


Water: The best beverage to drink and it’s cheap. 8 cups a day can be daunting, so think small.


  • Drink one glass first thing in the morning, before you brush your teeth.
  • Keep a glass or bottle at your desk and when it is empty, get a refill.
  • Resolve to drink one more cup of water today than you had yesterday.


New Year’s Healthy Living Tip No. 3: Taste the Rainbow


Spruce up your kitchen with colorful produce that is packed with disease-fighting plant compounds. It’s pretty and good for you, too.


  • Designate a color-a-day. Maybe Mondays are yellow, with grapefruit, golden apples, or corn starring in meals, while Tuesdays are purple with plum and eggplant.
  • Make it a family night and get the kids to be creative. Build a green pizza with emerald bell peppers and artichokes, or a red produce-infused chili.
  • Keep it interesting– pick up a new-to-you fruit or veggie the next time you shop.


New Year’s Healthy Living Tip No 4: Resist the Munchies


You’re hanging out with friends or watching a movie—and you just can’t stop munching. Try these tips to keep yourself in line:


  • Nibble on a stick of gum or a sugar-free mint.
  • Brush or floss your teeth.
  • Keep your hands busy with a glass of water, a cup of tea, or cleaning off the table.


New Year’s Healthy Living Tip No 5: Be Good to your Body


At the Y, we put a lot of emphasis on prevention. That’s why we have our YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program. It’s a lot less daunting than treating a chronic condition, so do the little things that keep your body thriving.


  • Get moving 30 minutes a day most days.  Enjoy a group exercise class, go for a walk, give the car a good scrub. Whatever gets the blood pumping!
  • Visit the doctor. Get those tests you know you need. Blood tests, prostate exams, pap smears — stay ahead of the game by staying healthy.
  • Set a bedtime schedule for yourself and the kids. Sleep helps body and soul recharge, stay healthy, and cope with stress.


These simple steps will help you reach any goal. Resolve to make small diet and exercise resolutions this year and then just watch how far you’ll go!  Visit a wellness coach at a Y near you to get expert advice on ways to stay healthy in 2012.

3 Levels, One Commitment

Helping you achieve your health and wellness goals


At the Y of Central Florida, we are committed to improving the health and well-being of our residents. This commitment goes beyond asking you to simply join a fitness facility to exercise. Rather, it connects you to a health movement that looks to create a profound impact on disease prevention and adherence to a healthy lifestyle, all to better the overall health and well-being of Americans.


To show that we understand the barriers to practicing healthy habits – our busy lives, our fitness levels and our attitude towards exercise – we’ve begun a major redesign of our wellness floors and fitness offerings to help you stick to a regular exercise program that not only fits your lifestyle, but will also get you healthier.




Our wellness floors, fitness programs, aquatics offerings and indoor cycle classes will now be offered in three distinct levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. That way you can choose the level of intensity that is right for you. To ensure you select an activity that matches your skill and comfort, we’ve created profiles for each level. Read below to see which profile best describes you.



If you are just starting to make exercise and getting healthy a consistent part of your life, choose classes and activities offered under Health Seeker. Health and fitness activities under this category can help you build a baseline of comfort with exercise and help you stick to a regular program.



If you’ve already adopted a regular work-out routine, 2 – 3 times per week, and now want more structure or more challenge, look for Step-up resources, classes and activities. The intensity of Step-up activities is intermediate so that you are challenged, yet gaining the benefits you look for in a program at your own pace.


If you have a dedicated exercise routine and have specific athletic goals you’re striving to achieve, Athlete programs and resources are for you. Programs offered under the Athlete category are advanced, so if you want a real challenge try offerings in this category.




In reality, we do not fall neatly into one of these levels. You may be comfortable participating in an advanced activity like running, yet are new to the class environment and seeking the strength and flexibility benefits that a yoga class can deliver. No worries. Mix it up! Start with a basic yoga class and once you get comfortable with the format “step-up” to an intermediate-level yoga class. You can do this type of evaluation for each of the programs we offer in each area – wellness floor, aquatics programs, fitness and indoor cycling classes – to build a work-out program that is right for you.   

Coach Matt and Abraham’s Story

We believe the values and skills learned early on are vital building blocks for life. Because of the Y, children and teens learn values and positive behaviors, and can explore their unique talents and interests, helping them realize their potential. That makes for confident kids today and contributing and engaged adults tomorrow. That’s why we hire the best coaches and child development staff to develop tomorrow’s leaders.


Abraham was the youngest in his class and had trouble focusing in school. At the age of 4, Abraham was being bullied and challenged by older kids in class. The teasing left him with self-esteem issues and a bruised ego.


Someone suggested, Abraham’s mother, Carol Lee should enroll him in Safe Start.


Immediately Carol saw Abraham change. “Safe Start was the best thing I did, because it gave him the confidence that if anything happened in the water, he knew what to do,” said Carol Lee. “It broke his fear.”


Safe Start gave Abraham the confidence he needed in the pool and in the classroom. Swim lessons at the Y improved his attitude in school and at home.


“This other kid came out,” she said.


The swimming lessons were fun, but Abraham’s coaches were the ones that gave him the boost he needed. Coach Matt formed a friendship with Abraham that helped him believe in himself again. The encouragement and affirmation from his coach trumped the bullies at school.


Abraham no longer feels like he has to catch up. Now, at age 5, Abraham is swimming unsupervised with “the best” at theYMCA Aquatic Center. His coaches push his limits and say he should be on a swim team next month.


“We didn’t just sign up for swim lessons,” said Carol Lee. “The Y helped Abraham change the perspective he had of himself.”


Find swim lessons near you.

Changing the Obesity Statistics

The statistics tell us that only 3% of Americans enjoy exercise enough to make it a consistent part of their everyday lives. So we’ve decided to focus on the rest of us. Those of us who know what regular exercise is the right thing to do, but just can’t find the motivation.

With the help of Dr. Jim Annesi, we are implementing a new wellness program that works for real people. It starts with a personalized assessment and an easy-to-follow plan that helps you kick the inactivity habit and start feeling the benefits of regular exercise right away, like having more energy and less stress.

Our Wellness Floors and Classes are being redesigned to fit this new program. You’ll now find three distinct sections – health seeker, step-up and athlete – with equipment that fit your comfort level and staff who understand your goals and abilities. And you’ll receive plenty of personal attention to help you stay motivated and moving forward. Give it a try and you’ll find out that this isn’t like any program you’ve tried before. It’s one you can stick with for life.

Our classes and welleness floors are being redesigned with your exercise comfort level in mind. Find the level that feels right for you.

HEALTH SEEKER – Beginner: For those new to exercise or have not exercised in a while.

Ready to get healthy or get back in shape? These classes are the perfect way to get started or try something new.

STEP-UP – Intermediate: For people who regularly exercise.

If you already have a good base level of fitness or have participated in the beginner’s class already, step up to the next level.

ATHLETE – Advance: For the avid exerciser.
If you’re an athlete who loves a challenge and want to be pushed – lace up your shoes…it’s go time!


Start today. Call 407.895.8659 and get started on a healthy path.

Osceola Y Groundbreaking

Osceola needs a great Y and thanks to Dr. Phillips Charities and Mary Jane Arrington, the Y broke ground November 3 to reinvent the Y to better serve the men, women and children of Osceola County. Arrington led our Osceola County Y Capital Campaign and raised $250,000 and Dr. Phillips Charities contributed a matching $1.5 million toward our Osceola Y.

Read about the event written by Around Osceola.


Y Golf & Learning Center

We are passionate about nurturing the potential of every child in our community.  That’s why Orange County Government Parks and Recreation invested money in re-doing the golf facility for our Y Golf & Learning Center after school program.

Thanks to Orange County Government Parks and Recreation, our Tangelo Park location’s Y Golf & Learning Center now has a nicer facility that will bring the community together, not only for the kids to learn the sport, but also through community events that keep kids off the street. The improvements to the course include:

  • Replacement of putting greens with low maintenance/high quality surface
  • Replacement of hitting bay nets

The Y Golf & Learning Center is offered to 1st-5th grade students attending Tangelo Park Elementary School and is a combination learning and golf program.  We provide kids with homework help and teach life skills. We are also in the process of unveiling a Lockheed Martin Technology Satellite Center which will open the first quarter of 2012. This program is another way the Y can engage children and teens in positive, fun activities.  

The Y Golf & Learning Center provides easy access to a sport kids otherwise would not have access to.  And we don’t want to stop at the Tangelo Park location, but we want to replicate the program at our other outreach Ys, including Wayne Densch, South Orlando and Osceola County. Learn how you can help

Thursday, December 1, at our Tangelo Park location we thanked Orange County Government Parks and Recreation for engaging students in this program and investing money to re-do our 9 hole putting green practice facility.  


Operation Christmas Child – Send Off

At the Y, one of our areas of focus is social responsibility which means we mobilize local communities to effect lasting, meaningful change. That is why we partnered with Operation Christmas Child to send off shoeboxes that will go all over the world directly into the hands of children in need.

Operation Christmas Child allows children to experience opening a Christmas present for the first time in their lives. It’s so special, that a child cannot experience it twice.

We kicked off Thanksgiving week by bringing our staff and people from our community together to pack and help us send off our OCC shoeboxes. We collected over 1,600 shoeboxes at the Y as of yesterday, which will make Christmas special for thousands of kids.

 Harpists from St. Luke’s Lutheran Academy played Christmas songs as we gathered together to pray over the children that would receive their Christmas gift.

Dawn Vallantyne, Lake Nona Board Member and Chair of the Mission Committee shared how our Y family has been affected by simply packing one box for a child. One of our members stuck a letter inside a box and still corresponds with the child’s family. Our local community is being strengthened by this simple act of giving.
Tom Welch, Pastor of Southwest Church, led a blessing over the boxes and prayed for the children that would be receiving them.
Afterward, members and employees jumped in to pack up the boxes.
 Since 1993, OCC has given 85 million shoeboxes to children in 130 countries. The Y of Central Florida is glad to add to those numbers. We are working together to make a difference in our local communities as well as our world. We partner with Operation Christmas Child every year, so if you missed out – join us next year.

November Member-thon

November is a great month to get into the exercise habit. Come learn about our new wellness program that helps you stick with an exercise program, state-of-the-art equipment to support your health goals, terrific classes that fit your level of fitness and warm, welcoming staff ready to help you. 


Visit any of our 25 Family Center locations across Central Florida between November 21st and November 30th and get started by just paying a $1 joiner’s fee.


In fact, come TRY THE Y on Friday November 25, Saturday November 26 or Sunday November 27, the weekend right after Thanksgiving Day, and pay nothing. This trial will not only be fun and good for you, it will cost you nothing.


Even better, the first 25 people to join each day (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) will receive a $25 gift card to use on any of the Y program we offer. So, come and check us out…or just kick-off the holiday season with a great workout. All you need is a valid photo ID.


At the Y, we aim to improve the health and well-being of our community. So, come try us and experience why people belong to the Y.


Learn more about belonging to our Y.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Festival of Trees

Creating Meaningful Impact


The Orlando Museum of Art Festival of Trees has a special meaning to the Y of Central Florida. It is the yearly event where we bring our community of donors together to celebrate their unparalleled support for our cause and give thanks for their generous gifts that create meaningful impact in the lives of many neighbors in need across our Central Florida community.


This year’s celebration was held on Sunday, November 13. Over 600 valued supporters attended, all of whom are donors from the private and public sectors, and some even loyal members of our Y family centers.


Supporters of our cause strolled through the Orlando Museum of Art, transported into a dazzling holiday wonderland where trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses ignited the holiday spirit and reminded us of our shared commitment to nurture the potential of our kids, promote healthy living and foster a sense of social responsibility.


We unveiled the recipient of this year’s Dr. P Phillips Champion of Youth Award – Leonard Williams, Sr. of Wayne Densch Charities for his commitment to improving the lives of children in Central Florida. We also hosted a special dinner to honor lifetime donors and discuss our efforts to continue meeting the needs of our communities through innovative and needed programs.


This is the time of year when the Y gives our deepest thanks to our donors, volunteers and members, who are helping advance our cause. We wish our Central Florida community a Happy Holiday season.


Be blessed.





The Y’s tree was designed by Jennifer Rowe and was adorned with strings of popcorn and Y ornaments. Our cause was shown boldly beside it.   



Another favorite was the popcorn station. Our kids designed the popcorn bags with our new logo.




There was also a hallway filled with gingerbread houses.


Operation Christmas Child

Here at the Y we believe we can make a real difference in the lives of people and communities we engage within our country and around the globe. That is why we support Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse annual gift-filled shoe box drive intended to improve the lives of many suffering children overseas.


During the week of November 14-21, 2011, our 25 local Y of Central Florida family centers will serve as collection sites for Operation Christmas Child. The gift-filled shoe boxes you donate will be distributed to children around the world that are in severe poverty due to wars and/or natural disasters.


Donating a gift-filled shoe box is simple. Just follow these easy steps:

  • Find a plastic shoe box. Please note: a plastic box is best since children can use as a much needed container to carry water to and from their home
  • Fill the plastic shoe box with these suggested gifts: school supplies, small toys, toiletries, hard candies, t-shirts, socks, combs, hair clips or any other useful personal item, along with a personal note.
  • Take your gift-filled show box to a Y of Central Florida family center nearest you.
  • Pick up a “How to pack your shoe box” brochure and cut out the labels provided in the back. Select the gender most appropriate for your gifts and mark the correct age category. Tape the label on your shoe box.
  • Place the gift-filled shoe box in the area we have dedicated to Operation Christmas Child in our family centers.
  • We will gather gift-filled boxes from now until November 21, 2011.


On Monday, November 21 we will bless the boxes and send them to the processing center.  Samaritan’s Purse will ensure shoe boxes are delivered directly into the hands of children in need. So, please join us at our Send-off Event:

        Date: Monday, November 21st

        Time: 10 am

        Location:  Downtown Orlando YMCA


Partnering with Samaritan’s Purse enables us to mobilize our local communities to effect lasting, meaningful change in the life of suffering children overseas. For over 160 years, we have been listening and responding to the needs of our communities here and worldwide.


We thank you for taking this opportunity to give back and support neighboring countries in need. At the Y, we value members like you that help advance our social responsibility efforts.  


For more information on Operation Christmas Child visit or view this video on How to Pack a Shoe Box with Scotty McCreery.



Helping to Rebuild Nations in Need

There is no other nonprofit quite like the Y. We are strengthening Central Florida communities and our impact is spreading to nations abroad. We were honored to receive a visit from the National Olympic Committee of Afghanistan on Saturday, November 5.

The delegation, led by Lt. General Mohammad Z. Aghbar, President of the General Directory of Physical Education and Sport, chose the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA for theirUSvisit at the urging of the AAU and the US State Department.  The delegates spent their time learning about the role of the YMCA in strengthening the community.  The considerable expertise the Y has gained in this endeavor could be useful to a nation undergoing substantial re-building.

Dr. Phillips’s Executive Director, Rexanne Paugh provided a thoughtful overview of the many programs, activities and volunteer opportunities that support the mission of the Y through youth development, healthy lifestyles, and social responsibility.   She followed her presentation with a thorough tour of the facilities with special attention to the wellness floor, swimming, early childhood development and basketball.

General Aghbar was especially impressed by the attendance and participation from families and the many young people he met at the Y.   He was so impressed by the attention and courtesy of the children that he insisted on numerous photographs with them.   “If young people can be influenced by this kind of environment, terror will have no place to grow its roots,” the General observed.

The visit was an exciting reinforcement of the unique learning that takes place at the Y – whether for an individual or a nation – that can be replicated in nations across the world.


Written by Randy Lyon, Chief Strategic Officer of the YMCA of Central Florida
Follow Randy on Twitter


Be Healthy at Work

In 1960, one out of two jobs required moderate physical activity; today only one in five do. The other 80% of the American workforce remains sedentary all day. The shift means that the average worker is burning 120 to 140 fewer calories a day at work. [via USA Today]



At the Y, we are determined to help you live a healthier lifestyle. We asked Wellness Director, Kelly Prather, for tips on staying healthy while working a sedentary job.  





Here are a few more tips:


  1. Stair climbing – Instead of taking the elevator use the stairs. You could lose 150 calories in 10 minutes of stair climbing.
  2. Personal delivery – Visit your co-worker and chat face-to-face. This allows you to burn more calories and network.
  3. Snack healthy – Along with a healthy lunch eat 1 -2 healthy snacks during your workday. Change up your routine and eat yogurt instead of that candy bar in the vending machine.
  4. Compensate – Since you work a sedentary job, you still need exercise. Burn calories and relieve stress at your closest Y.



To cut your risk of health problems such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, plan short activity breaks into your workday. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a minimum of 10 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise is enough to get your heart pumping and burn calories, so aim for at least three 10-minute walking breaks during the day. [via]



If you want to learn more about how you can feel better during your workday, call the closest Y location to you and we will set you up with a wellness coach.


Start Small. Aim High.

97% of Americans struggle to complete regular exercise each week, even though we know how important it is for our health and well-being.

Ask yourself the following 2 questions:

  1.  Do I exercise 2-3 days a week?
  2.  Have I done this consistently (every week) for 6 months or more?

What Your Answer Means.

If you answered no to either or both questions, we would like to invite you to participate in THE COACH APPROACH®.  We’re implementing this exercise support process designed to teach new and returning exercisers how to start and stick with their exercise programs. And we’re redesigning our wellness floors with three distinct sections to fit your comfort-level – health seeker, step up and athlete. At NO additional charge, you will be paired with a YMCA personal wellness coach who will help you work through your exercise-related challenges. If you have not been exercising 2-3 times a week for 6 months or longer, then THE COACH APPROACH® is right for you.

It starts with a personal assessment and an easy-to-follow plan that helps you:

What You’re Saying:

“I came in to cancel my membership because I was frustrated, not using the facility, but instead I was told about THE COACH APPROACH® and decided to give it one more try.” –Valeria, Oviedo Member

“All around me were uncomfortable stares from sleek, toned hard-bodies. I felt no one at the gym would help me, but now I feel hopeful.”––Anonymous

What We’re Saying:

“We are able to spend quality one-on-one time with our members to help support them in their exercise efforts.” –Kelly Prather, Downtown YMCA Wellness Director

Click play to hear more of what Kelly has to say about the program.

Visit one of the following family centers and schedule your first appointment.


Lillian’s Story

Lillian Christian was told during a routine blood test that her sugar level was too high. She is now one of  57 million people in the US who have prediabetes. Studies show that many people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes in 10 years, but it can be prevented or delayed by up to 58 percent through changes in lifestyle.

“I was flabbergasted by the news that I had prediabetes, but thankful that they caught it early so I could still do something about it,” said Christian.

Lillian works in our metro offices at the YMCA of Central Florida. We sent an email out to our employees about the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program (YDPP) after Lillian got the news. The email explained how the YDPP gives people the tools they need to reduce their diabetes risk and develop tools for healthy living.

“I decided to enroll, because I wanted to see how the 16-week program could help bring down my sugar level,” said Christian. “Three weeks in, I am learning to read food labels and stay away from foods with high levels of fat.”

Most importantly, Lillian is not going down this path alone. Her favorite thing about the YDPP is that program members support one another. She’s making friends and, together, they are learning how to make healthier choices for their families. Lillian also has her YDPP lifestyle coaches encouraging her all the way. She described them as friendly, sincere and knowledgeable.

Lillian is already noticing a difference in her eating habits. She avoids her favorite food (french fries), reads labels and has a better understanding about fat intake. She encourages people to enroll in YDPP so they adopt healthier eating habits, have a better understanding of good health and live longer to enjoy their family and friends.

We will check in with Lillian and post about her progress over the next few weeks.  Lillian is taking control of her health by learning new tools for healthy living and reducing her risk for diabetes through the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. You can too.

Building a Great Y in Osceola County

Osceola needs a great Y and thanks to Dr. Phillips Charities and Mary Jane Arrington, the Y is breaking ground in September to reinvent the Y to better serve the men, women and children of Osceola County. Arrington led our Osceola County Y Capital Campaign and raised $250,000 and Dr. Phillips Charities contributed a matching $1.5 million toward our Osceola Y..

Why do we need to reinvent the Osceola Y? Being the leading county in the state for foreclosures and one of the hardest hit by the recession, Osceola County is a county in need.  The Y wants to help people live better lives. Our renovation will allow us to provide more of the programs, services and initiatives that make healthier communities, get children and teens off the street, help send disadvantaged teens to college and lead the fight against chronic illnesses. We want to help move our community forward.

The Osceola Y expansion will add 10,300 square feet, making it one of our largest YMCAs in Central Florida, and allowing more neighbors to connect with one another and the community.

The new Y will offer a Pulse Area or gathering area designed for members, families and friends can all come together and meet or make new friends as they develop lasting, meaningful relationships.

Expanded Wellness Center that gives members new ways to get healthy, including:

  • New Studio Cycling Room
  • New Multipurpose Room for aerobic classes and other uses
  • Adult and Family Locker Rooms providing members with convenience and saving time.

Let’s come together as neighbors and celebrate our commitment to our community as we transform not only the Osceola Y, but the entire Osceola community with the generous support of Dr. Phillips Charities and Mary Jane Arrington. Join us for this celebration on November 3, 2011 at 10 AM.

Help us advance our cause.

Winter Park Y Renovations

Our Winter Park Y renovations have wrapped up and we want the community to come out to see your new Y. These new renovations will help the Winter Park community by building stronger relationships and healthier lives.


Our renovations, expansions and new Ys are about building program space. At the Winter Park Y, we’ve created a place to bring the entire community together so that they can develop lasting, meaningful relationships.

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • New “Pulse” Area or gathering area to connect with old friends and make new ones.
  • Family Locker Rooms save you time and give you a convenient place to change and connect with your family.
  • Men’s and Women’s Locker Rooms provide ease and convenience, saves you time, and there’s a larger steam room and sauna.
  • New Windows in Gymnasium support a green environment and reduce dependency on electric power, plus provides natural light.
  • New Spin Room provides indoor cycling exercise options for all ages and stages. The windows let in natural light and support a green environment.
  • Environmentally friendly features like windows to let in natural light, and landscape to support a green environment and preserve the look of the community.

And, we have plans for future renovations to include:

  • Zero-depth Pool to provide an exercise or recreational option that promotes fun, fitness and connection with neighbors.
  • Parking offering more space for members and saving time.

Come see the new Winter Park Y for yourself.




Get Moving is about improving the health and well-being of our communities. By taking 10,000 steps a day or enrolling in 30-Day personalized program you will not only take steps to a better you, but also to a healthier Central Florida community.


By taking part in our 30-Day Health Challenge you can:

  • Prevent future disease by taking initial steps to get stronger and healthier.
  • Feel better by reducing stress through exercise.
  • Connect with family, friends and neighbors through program activities
  • Live longer by increasing heart health and overall well-being.
  • Prevent injuries by strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility.


Join our online communities.
At the Y, we are committed to helping you start your journey to a healthy lifestyle.  We have created online communities so you can easily share your stories, keep motivated and encourage others to get moving. Keep connected; just Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook. Kick start your healthy lifestyle today and Get Moving at a Y near you.


July – GET MOVING Programs offered this month:

  • Winter Park YMCA
  • Crosby YMCA
  • Titusville YMCA
  • Brevard Community College YMCA
  • Suntree YMCA


August – GET MOVING Programs offered this month:  

  • Dr. P. Phillips YMCA
  • Roper YMCA
  • Aquatic Center YMCA
  • Wayne Densch YMCA


September – GET MOVING Programs offered this month:

  • Oviedo YMCA
  • J. Douglas Williams YMCA
  • Blanchard Park YMCA
  • Avalon Park YMCA
  • Marion County YMCA


October- GET MOVING Programs offered this month:

  • Downtown YMCA
  • Winter Park YMCA
  • Crosby YMCA
  • South Orlando YMCA
  • Titusville YMCA
  • Brevard Community College YMCA
  • Suntree YMCA
  • Lake Nona YMCA

2010 Annual Report

We are proud to share with you the outstanding accomplishments the Y is making in Central Florida. Our Annual Report allows you to see our mission in action. Our history has been marked by undeniable accomplishments in face of the challenges of changing times, but more than anything, what marks our history is our commitment to helping people.

2010 Annual Report

Our 2010 Successes

We came together to celebrate our milestones and accomplishments in the areas of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility at our Annual Meeting.  Last year, we opened our doors to the community more than six million times and more than 230,000 people were affected by our impact.

One of our greatest accomplishments was continuing to expand our presence in the community by starting or completing construction of new Family Centers and expansions of existing Centers. These improvements were only possible through financial contributions and community partnerships. The $6.1 million investment provided: new child development centers, new indoor cycling and aerobics rooms, expanded wellness floors, well-lit parking, infrastructure improvements, new camp pavilion and new locker rooms. The Family Centers renovated were: YMCA Aquatic Center, Downtown Orlando YMCA, Camp Wewa, and Winter Park YMCA. The Osceola County YMCA completed its renovation plan.

Over the past year, some of the Youth Development accomplishments that strive to nurture the potential of every child and teen include:

  • More than 20,000 kids participated in swimming lessons or aquatic programs at the Y.
  • Celebrated the 20th year of Teen Achievers program that impacts more than 1,000 teens per year.
  • Concluded the 10th year of the Middle School Afterschool Zone Partnership with Orange County and Orange County Public Schools, which has provided safe, secure programs for over 100,000 middle school children since its inception.
  • Completed the fifth year of YMCA at Walt Disney World Resort Family Care Centers which have impacted more than 7,000 children positively since opening.
  • More than 21,900 kids participated in youth sports programs offered by the Y.
  • More than 53,000 kids attended summer camp at a local YMCA Family Center.

In 2010, some of the Healthy Living accomplishments that aim to improve Central Florida’s health and well-being include:

  • More than 21,075 families used the YMCA daily to improve their health and well-being.
  • Celebrated the 10th year of the Winter Park Health Foundation partnership which positively impacts more than 700,000 people each year at the Oviedo and Crosby YMCAs.
  • Enjoyed the 10th year of the Orange County Parks and Recreation partnership with the Blanchard Park YMCA which impacts 500 people each day.

Some of the Social Responsibility accomplishments for 2010 in which the Y gives back and provides support to its neighbors in Central Florida include:

  • Through its scholarship campaign, volunteers and staff raised more than $4.8 million to help 30,000 families in Central Florida be part of the Y.
  • $20 million investment in at-risk communities, providing services and programs to members ranging from newborn age to century seniors.
  • Over $8 million of capital raised in the community to expand the impact of the YMCA cause.
  • Strengthen communities that need services the most – invested $10.2 million in Outreach Ys to keep their doors open.

Recognizing our Y Volunteers

In 2010, 6,120 volunteers gave more than 286,000 hours of their time to support the efforts of the YMCA and our members. This year, those volunteers along with our donors allowed the YMCA of Central Florida to provide resources and guidance to 230,000 Central Floridians. At our Annual Meeting, we recognized those who stand by our cause.

We specifically recognized Clarence Otis, Brenda Fettrow and Sandy Hostetter for their leadership and support of the YMCA of Central Florida.

The John W. Sterchi Award for lifetime support of the YMCA of Central Florida was presented to Clarence Otis, CEO of Darden. Otis has been involved with the Y for more than 40 years, starting with his participation in YMCA teen leadership programs in Los Angeles, progressing to serving on the boards of New York and Central Florida Ys. Through his involvement with the YMCA of Central Florida, Otis has played a key role in fundraising efforts and financial operations. Under his leadership, funds were raised for renovations of the Wayne Densch and South Orlando YMCA Family Centers. Otis is a former Board Chair and continues to serve on the YMCA of Central Florida’s Executive Committee as a trustee.

Dr. Brenda Fettrow received the Ronnie H. Walker Unsung Hero Award – Volunteer of the Year for demonstrating Y values. Dr. Fettrow is a long time supporter, volunteer and donor for the YMCA of Central Florida. She played a key role in the development of the Cocoa YMCA Family Center and it was through her vision of connecting a Y with a community college, that the YMCA of Central Florida was able to partner with Brevard Community College. She continues to lead the Y in its mission to strengthen the community as board chair of the Cocoa YMCA Family Center.

In addition, it was announced that Sandy Hostetter, president of CNLBank, was appointed to the role of Metropolitan YMCA Board Chairperson. She has been a YMCA volunteer and contributor for more than 25 years, and will continue to provide leadership and direction in furthering the mission and goals of the YMCA of Central Florida. Hostetter has previously served in leadership roles for various boards and committees within the association.

Each of our volunteers helps deliver the benefits of good health, strong connections, greater self-confidence and a sense of security to all who seek it. When you volunteer at the Y, you take an active role bringing about change right in your own neighborhood.

Volunteer at the Y.

The School of the Future

The Y is a cause for strengthening the community, working tirelessly to nurture the potential of kids, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and give back and support our neighbors. One of the ways we are strengthening Central Florida is with our Lake Nona Y/Northlake Park Community School. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend recently wrote an article for The Atlantic about her visit to our Lake Nona YMCA/NorthLake Park Community School. In her words, she explains the impact the Y and our partners are making in Central Florida.

North Lake Park public elementary school is located in the same building as the local YMCA. Wow! The 30,000-square-foot Y is literally right in the middle of the school. The children, who would never have had access to a swimming pool at any regular public school, can now learn to swim, and they also get in shape in the gym and on the walking trails. Some of them take yoga before a test to reduce their pre-test butterflies.

Teachers, too, can easily get to the gym’s StairMaster, weights, and workout classes. The results aren’t just better abs but better attitudes. The teachers are happy, and their higher retention rate pays dividends for the kids. The parents are also more involved. Instead of an awkward once-a-year meeting, teachers and parents find themselves on adjacent bikes in the spin class. They’re comfortable with one another.

I was stunned to learn that the school was more than a decade old, because it looked so new and fresh. A few years ago, when the school system didn’t have the money to paint the building, they turned to their partner. The Y raised the money and the painters came.

What I saw in Orlando was unique, a local initiative that’s the first of its kind in the nation. Here the community is represented by the YMCA, an already vigorous and attractive institution. This means that the school doesn’t have to do all the hard work. It has a built-in magnet.

As I walked along the halls and visited the classrooms, I kept imagining what could be accomplished if we replicated this model in the 2,500 YMCAs across the country. The Ys already flourish, because they have enticing facilities that people are eager to come to. It would be amazing if each Y could be paired with a school.

Partnering with a strong local institution like a Y would bring new resources, new friends, and the wraparound services that so many children (not to mention their teachers and parents and school staff) could enjoy. What a great idea to nurture mind and body in the same place!

As expected, the results are impressive. While 37 percent of NorthLake Park’s students are on free/reduced lunch and 60 percent of them are minorities, academically the school ranks among the top 10 percent in Florida. And the whole community benefits. The building is open to the community for 5,400 hours a year, over three times the hours of operation of a conventional school.

The staff at both the school and the Y recognize that the facility serves the whole child and family through its expanded hours and the multiple activities available to children and families. Teachers work together with YMCA staff to complement what they do in their classrooms.

Arne Duncan, the secretary of Education, agrees. When he visited, he called NorthLake Park a model of what a 21st-century school should be. “This should be the norm,” he said, “not the exception. You have a model for the country right here.”

He’s right, but saying something doesn’t make it so. Community leaders in Orlando worked long and hard to get this school up and running. And after 11 years, they’re about to launch a second school that educates both the students and the community, preparing body and mind, students and family.


Read the full article at The Atlantic.

Watch video here.

Safe Start

Safe Start’s influence is spreading across Central Florida. Tyler Mckenzie from z88.3 shares how the Safe Start program has touched her family’s life.</p?

As a parent I am always looking for ways to protect and guide my children. The YMCA Safe Start program has been an incredible tool in helping me to accomplish that when it comes to water safety. My 4 year old Emma Grace started lessons when she started walking. This year her little sister Ella Jay (18 months) started lessons while Emma Grace is finishing up a refresher course. Watching my girls learn the skills, to be able to save themselves in an emergency situation, has given my heart such joy. Our instructor Dawn has been so encouraging and loving to my strong willed girls. They adore her. The passion she has for every student to learn is so sweetly evident. My children LOVE swimming now but more importantly are learning life saving skills. Not only as a mommy but as a leader in the community I thank all of the instructors at Safe Start for making a huge impact in the lives of our children.

Listen to z88.3’s Mornings with Ellis and Tyler weekday mornings from 5:30 am – 10:30 am for a positive start to your morning. Find a Safe Start program at a Y near you. Call Safe Start at 407-599-0167 for more information.

Saving One Life at a Time

Kristen Formet has been with the Y for 10 years. She is a Safe Start Master Instructor and loves her job. When her daughter Madison was 13 months old she completed the ISR Survival program (Safe Start’s founding partner). After Madison’s lessons, Kristen was amazed at what her young daughter learned.

“I immediately researched becoming an instructor. Being a stay at home mom, I was thrilled to hear that Dr. Phillips Charities was partnering with ISR and the Y of Central Florida to bring Safe Start to our communities,” she said. “I had always believed the Y and their impact in the communities allowing all to participate in programs regardless of their ability to pay for them.”

Kristen said it was a perfect fit. She has been teaching children M-F ever since. The program has gotten over 37 letters from parents who said their child used the skills they learned in Safe Start to save themselves from an aquatic emergency.

When Kristen was asked what her favorite thing was about Safe Start, she responded, “Knowing that I am playing a part in keeping children safer and seeing them go from crying their first day, to having students who cry when they have to get out of the water.”

Safe Start is unique because the students are so young. Beginning at the age of 6 months, children are taught to turn from face down in the water to face up and into a comfortable back float position; at 12 months old, children learn how to swim, rotate onto the back and float, and then turn back over and continue swimming to safety. The private lessons are M-F, 10 minutes per day, for 6 weeks. Find a Safe Start program at a Y near you. Call Safe Start at 407-599-0167 for more information.

Celebration of Prayer Recap

The Y brought the Central Florida community together in prayer to strengthen their spirit at the 17th Annual Celebration of Prayer on Thursday, April 21. With the support of Florida Hospital and other community leaders, we prayed to make our community stronger in the areas of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

Guest speaker Kathleen Kennedy Townsend reinforced the need for faith and social responsibility in her words. She is the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and former Lt. Governor of Maryland.

She spoke of childhood experiences growing up in Catholic school and how important her parents’ faith instilled values in her own life, especially when tragedies occurred. She shared that it’s not just the happy experiences that we learn from, but the painful ones as well. And it’s places like the Y that can help people and families learn to be faithful at these times.

Mrs. Kennedy Townsend quoted Luke 12:48, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return.” She believes that not only does God care about us, but He demands that we give back. She closed sharing, “This breakfast reminds us to do for others and not focus on ourselves.”

At the Y, we care about the concerns of our community and want to help strengthen them spiritually. We provided prayer request cards and prayed for those in our community in need. The Y is the place for you and your family to connect with opportunities based on Christian values.

Alex’s Story

Alex Tran, age 17, qualified this year for the YMCA National Swimming Championship by going 2 seconds faster than the qualifying time in the 200 yard breaststroke. Four years ago he could barely swim. His mom, Rosanna Tran, remembers Alex as, “Shy, always stuck in front of a computer, and almost overweight.” Now, he swims for the YCF Swimming team at the YMCA Aquatic Center.

Before and After - Alex Tran

Before and After – Alex Tran

Alex didn’t transform into an athlete overnight. His passion for swimming began when his family was at the Y. A member of the YCF swim team showed Alex a few strokes and eventually, he talked Alex into joining the team. Alex said, “The only stroke I knew was the breaststroke, but he taught me how to do the other strokes and how to swim fast.”

Alex was hooked, and at age 13, he joined the YCF Swimming team under Coach Mel Nash.

“Alex was older, but with this team it didn’t matter,” said Rosanna Tran.

The training and inspiration from the team and Coach Mel Nash paid off. Alex grew into a remarkable swimmer, and swimming impacted many areas of Alex’s life. Alex became the captain of Cypress Creek High School’s swim team and was a volunteering at the Special Olympics and the Y. Swimming also brought his health problems to and end.

Swimming is also shaping Alex’s future plans. He has been accepted to Duke, Emory and the University of Florida. If he goes to Duke or Emory, he will swim on the college team.

At the Y, we exist to strengthen our community. One way we do this is through our Aquatics programs. So, join our cause today, like Alex did, and enjoy getting fit or connecting with family and friends at our pools. You never know how it will shape your future.

Change Lives

We want to show you what the Y Scholarship Campaign does for our community, and the best way to do that is to share a mother’s story.

I wanted to let you know that you have made a difference in the life of a little girl. My three year old daughter and I were recently relocated by the Court. She had to get used to a new city, a new home, a new school and even a new prayer house. She was away from everything that she had been familiar with. I needed to do something special for her. She LOVES to swim, but I could not afford swim classes. I came across the YMCA’s Aquatics Program. I still could not afford the fee. I then learned that the YMCA offers scholarships. I applied for it and you were gracious enough to work with me and with my unusual circumstance. Today, I helped my daughter with her homework assignment. The topic was “My Favorite Place in the Community.”

She was excited to remind me that her favorite place is her “swimming place.” When I asked her why, she quickly responded with an obvious, “Because I love it!”

As we talked about it more, I realized that she is making memories here. She will probably always remember her “swimming place.” On the days that she has swim class, she is quick to eat her breakfast, gets dressed, goes to school and looks forward to going to the Y in the evenings. I have begun to see a difference in my daughter. She used to be quiet and reserved. I now see her being more confident, outgoing, and even more trusting. The aquatics program at the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA is making a difference in her life; it gives her time to be herself and learn while she has fun. She is not only getting stronger physically but emotionally as well. I wanted to THANK YOU ALL again for making a difference in our lives and THANK the community members who have made this scholarship possible for us.

Through the Y of Central Florida, over 1,300 volunteer campaigners and over 3,000 donors are empowering thousands of people in our community to be healthy, confident, connected and secure. To date, the Y Scholarship Campaign has raised over $1 million to use for families in need.  These voluntary contributions fund, lead and support the Y’s critical work.  Our goal is to have 2,500 volunteer campaigners, and  10,000 donors raise $3 million dollars to give to our community.  Imagine the impact we could make with those goals.

Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together.

Give to the Y today. Someone’s life will be changed.

Learn to Swim Here

We are teaching kids to swim every day. One of our own employees learned to swim here and is now giving back to the Y. Here is what she had to say.

“My first swim coach poured into me all of the attention and social skills a girl could need. She inspired a passion in me for aquatics and a desire to push myself in athletics. Currently, I am giving back to similar children in the same way. I am employed with the YMCA of Central Florida as a lifeguard and swim instructor.”

You get more out of swim lessons here, than you will anywhere else. Our lifeguards and coaches are dedicated to mold each swimmer that comes into the pool. We want everyone in the community to learn water safety and promote healthy living.

Our pools are open to every type of swimmer; we have a program that fits your need. From positive, fun activities for kids, to water fitness, recreational and competitive swimming. Anyone can use the pool to get fit.

Learn to swim here today.

Eat Right with Color

Here at the Y, we are determined to improve our community’s health and well-being.  One of the ways we do that is by educating you on healthy eating choices.  Our YMCA of Central Florida provides you with dietary and nutrition education that will assist you in making the right choices for you and your family.  With so little time and so much information, healthy eating can seem a daunting task. That’s why we have Registered Dietitian, Sharon Bartfield.  She wants to share with you an easy way to choose healthy eating habits.

March is National Nutrition Month, a nutrition education campaign sponsored by the American Dietetic Association. Now that the holidays are behind us, it is a good time for a reminder about how to maintain healthful eating habits year round. Keep in mind that healthful eating habits are important at all age levels. Children grow, develop, and learn better when they are well nourished. Good nutrition is very beneficial for a healthy pregnancy. Teenagers and adults can be more productive and decrease their risk for many medical conditions if they maintain healthful eating habits. Food nourishes both the body and the mind. Being well nourished means not only eating enough of the nutrients your body needs but also eating foods in the right proportions to maintain a healthy weight.

So, if you want to improve your mood, increase your energy levels, and decrease your risk for diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes; then let’s create a festive meal with a palette of nutrients and “Eat Right With Color”.

Registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Karen Ansel offers ways to brighten up your plate in every season with this quick color guide.

Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks.
• Fruits: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi and lime
• Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach

Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity, and reduce the risk of some cancers.
• Fruits: apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach and pineapple
• Vegetables: carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn and sweet potatoes

Purple and blue options may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks.
• Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins
• Vegetables: eggplant, purple cabbage, purple-fleshed potato

Red indicates produce that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reduce cancer risks.
• Fruits: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes and watermelon
• Vegetables: beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb and tomatoes

White, tan and brown foods sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks.
• Fruits: banana, brown pear, dates and white peaches
• Vegetables: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potato and white corn

Ansel recommends choosing a variety of colors when shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables. “And for additional options in the color palette, choose frozen or dried fruits and vegetables available throughout the year,” she says.

“Instead of grilled chicken and mashed potatoes, consider painting a more colorful plate, such as grilled chicken topped with salsa, mashed sweet potato, asparagus and spinach salad with orange slices. A colorful meal is not only visually appealing, but it also contains a variety of nutrients and is quite flavorful,” Ansel says.

For more information on how to “Eat Right with Color,” visit ADA’s National Nutrition Month website for a variety of helpful tips, fun games, promotional tools and nutrition education resources.