The Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs, Inc. exists to promote, support, and protect member YMCAs as premier not-for-profit charitable community service organizations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The Alliance of Massachusetts YMCA's, by influencing public policy and connection to evidenced based solutions, supports and advocates on behalf of its member Ys to share their collective impact with one voice to solve critical social issues in the areas of Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility.
The Massachusetts YMCAs serve 1.2 million people across the Commonwealth. With over 410 service locations, there are 370,000 children and teens being served, providing a wide range of activities to nurture their potential and ensure their success. With over 21,000 volunteers with 333,700 hours and over 16,000 employees, the Y is making a difference in all of the communities it serves.
With a focus on Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility, the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs serves all YMCA branches in the state by advocating on their behalf and providing a multitude of programs across the state. The Alliance of MA YMCAs are part of the Pioneering Healthier Communities work, an effort to create a healthier Massachusetts by facilitating conversations, passing policy, and running programs around physical activity and healthy eating. The Alliance of MA YMCAs also works in conjunction with early education and after school care providers to advocate for a reduction in the income-eligible waitlist and an increase in the salary reserve for early education teachers. The Alliance has been working with the local Y’s to have a positive impact on the achievement gap in Massachusetts, in order to ensure that all our children served can read atthe appropriate grade level. Additionally we address youth at risk, childhood obesity, and prevention of child abuse. Together the YMCAs in Massachusetts have created over 1100 policy changes.
Together we believe we can continue to serve our Massachusetts communities in creating a healthy and positive Commonwealth for our future generations.
WORDS FROM THE DIRECTOR
While individual YMCAs aim to serve their local communities, the collective YMCA network and Y-USA also recognize the natural duty of serving communities worldwide.
YMCAs across the country encourage global leadership development, thus embodied in the Global Leader Certificate. Open to YMCA staff and volunteers, individuals sign up to become equipped with the tools to drive diversity, inclusion, and global engagement practices (DIG). Staff and volunteers complete a 2-hour orientation, followed by extensive training on the dimensions of diversity and relationship building through varying cultural lenses. The training is a combination of eLearning and in-person sessions. They will also commit to developing their own Global Leader Project. Projects can include fundraising, community outreach and program improvement tools, or development of resources. Upon receiving their certificates, individuals will be equipped to aid their communities as well as catalyze the Y initiative to accommodate all demographics and circumstances.
Diversity, inclusion, and global engagement are essential to Y’s nationwide and worldwide. Therefore, Y-USA has developed the Emerging Global Leaders Institute to support this global initiative. The institution prepares staff and volunteers to become dynamic leaders. Before being selected to join the EGLI Cohort, tentative leaders go through a competitive selection process. 42 emerging leaders, representing 27 DIG Ys, work to develop global engagement and advance DIG strategies at local Ys. They will also have the opportunity to work with Ys internationally, joining leaders from Canada, Latin Americas, and the Caribbean at the Youth Summit of the Americas. Last year, the Summit was held in Colombia. Take a sneak peek at the leaders’ first days in Colombia here. This year, it will be held in Mexico City in November.
If you are a staff member or volunteer and interested in progressing from a local community benefactor to an international community benefactor, apply to next year’s EGLI Cohort or get your Global Leadership Certificate. YMCA’s near you are looking for enthusiastic, bright, and driven individuals to carry on the global initiative.
As humans, we all owe each other kindness, opportunities, experiences and aid when needed, regardless of differences in distance, race, religion, or ethnic background. The YMCA’s Global Engagement opportunities strengthen these ties across borders and the spirit of unity and goodness.
According to the Center for Disease Control, drowning is the primary cause of unintentional deaths for children ages 1-4. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission attributes an average of 390 deaths a year to drowning in a pool or spa.
The ability to swim has become an increasingly necessary life skill.
YMCAs nationwide are not only teaching children to swim, they aim to teach children to be aware, confident and healthy. Enrolling your child in local Y swim lessons may attribute to a decrease in their chances of drowning, promote confidence and a healthy lifestyle.
Swim instructors undergo a training to comprehend what it means to be an effective instructor. Not only do effective instructors have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to teach the curriculum, they develop confidence in their students, build relationships with and among them, and help them feel like they belong. They are trained to be acutely aware of their surroundings, following guidelines to ensure class safety (i.e. never turn away from the students under your supervision and always teach under the supervision of a lifeguard).
YMCAs are always eager to serve and better the community. We have maintained swimming lessons and aquatic safety throughout our Y history and we are proud of our strong aquatic staff, serving a scope of 1 million kids each year. But there’s always room to improve. It is important to have students feel like they have achieved something, for families to understand how their kids learn and to believe in them, and to increase the tools and resources available to staff.
The YMCA has an upgraded swim training curriculum that focuses the lesson content, fills in the gaps between stages of swimming, engages families and instructors, accommodate all children's’ and adults’ abilities, and more.
To witness the successes of this transition into a more effective, accommodating swimming curriculum, see Cassidy’s story Here.
“Democracy must be learned by each generation.” The Massachusetts Youth and Government program holds and executes this adage perfectly. The mission of the program is to encourage leadership and civic engagement under the four YMCA core values of respect, responsibility, honesty, and caring. The program is a conglomeration of smaller delegations spread out all across the state. Youth and Government involves high school students from different high schools, social, economic, and political backgrounds.
Upon registration, delegates are offered a choice of joining the Executive branch, Judicial branch, Legislative branch, Press Corps or Lobbyist Corps. Each derivative of the Youth in Government program focuses on specific forms of communication and character. The Executive branch calls all the shots, per say. They make the big decisions and help advisors to oversee the program. To be a powerful contender in the Legislative branch, one must have superfluous charisma and persuasion. The Judicial branch accepts delegates who are passionate and logical, who can examine a case from multiple different lenses, even if they may not agree with their own. Lobbyists are quick thinkers and have the canny ability to sell you your own shoe. The Press Corps recruits eloquent speakers and effective writers with strong desires to share relevant news and even stronger tendencies to gossip.
High school students (grades 9-12) participate in four Pre-Legislations in preparation for Conference. Pre-Legislations, held at sponsor colleges, are statewide and last a whole Saturday. Delegates attend workshops and participate in activities that help them grow their debating skills, improve writing ability and expand their network. Workshops are tailored towards certain branches and have different objectives, prompting delegates to interact outside of their own delegation. At these Pre-Legislations, Press members will work on releasing a new issue of The Beacon, Youth and Government’s newspaper. Appellate and Mock Trial delegates will re-examine their cases and practice court procedure. All in preparation for the big Conference.
At the end of the year, all the delegates will attend a 3 day Conference. Conference is held in the Omni Parker Hotel and also in the State House. Here, Legislative delegates present their Bills. Judicial delegates will argue their cases. The Press Corps bustle from room to room, trying to hear the next scoop. Lobbyists team up with their Bill writers. At the end of the 3 days, all the branches reconvene for a goodbye luncheon and awards are presented. Some delegates will be accepted into the Conference of National Affairs in North Carolina that summer, others will be going to the National Judicial Conference in Illinois.
Through the program, one develops character. The delegate too taciturn to speak up during Pre-Leg 1 could become a vociferous force by Conference. The first-year delegate overwhelmed by the grandiose of the Omni Parker could be the same delegate laughing and appreciating the view at Blue Ridge Mountain of North Carolina 3 years later. That is the ultimate goal of the Youth and Government program. Democracy must be learned by each generation, but so must respect, responsibility, honesty and caring.
To learn more about Youth and Government, click here.
The Alliance of Massachusetts YMCA’s (The Alliance) works tirelessly to promote and support member YMCAs by influencing public policy and advocating on behalf of its member Ys to share their impact with one voice to solve critical social issues in the areas of Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility. The National Y, in conjunction with the Surgeon General’s Office, called upon state alliances to join Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities initiative, asking the Alliance to coordinate a statewide event in order to increase physical activity through the promotion of walkable communities. Walkable communities are communities that are safe for people of all abilities who are walking, biking, driving or using any other form of transportation.
Six Ys across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Athol, Lynn, Lawrence, Greenfield, Old Colony, and Cambridge) chose to participate in the initiative and held their own unique walkability events where students advocated to improve the walkability of their communities. The general outline of the events was for the students in the afterschool programs to conduct walk-audit scavenger hunts to identify present and missing walkability components that they thought needed to be fixed. They were then asked to create posters or other visual aids to showcase their findings which were to be presented to municipal leaders in press conferences at the municipal hall.
While the Athol, Lawrence and Lynn YMCAs did, not all of the participating Ys followed this outline due to lack of staff, unsafe walking conditions surrounding the Y or other constraints, but all did an excellent job advocating for their communities. Greenfield YMCAs alternative activity was incorporated into their 6-week activity team challenge, where the walk-audits were completed by adult participants during their “kick-off” walk on Saturday, May 21st. Old Colony YMCA educated their students on walkability and its’ importance to the community and completed their scavenger hunts the following day, but were unable to walk to city hall due to weather and held their presentation at their Y location in Stoughton. The Cambridge YMCA conducted their scavenger hunts and took the opportunity to educate the children as they did so. The students presented their findings to the Alliance staff at their Cambridge location.
Through these events, the Alliance was able to educate nearly 200 students, staff and municipal leaders on the importance of walkability in their communities and potentially affected entire communities by advocating for change. Students learned the importance of advocacy work and were the voice of this initiative, speaking to their municipal leaders and educating them on what walkability is and what it means to them. The importance of not only educating students, but involving them in the advocacy process allows them to get involved and understand the positive impact that they can have on their community. During their presentation, two students from the Lynn YMCA stated that their suggested improvements “can help make our streets safer and better for our entire community. They can help lower the chances of accidents and get our children and other community members a chance to go home to their families” (Two students Lynn YMCA). On a walk-audit scavenger hunt worksheet, one student from the Cambridge YMCA stated the following when asked why fixing these problems was important to her and her community: “There would be less accidents/injuries to bike riders and pedestrians who are walking. It is important because we are part of this community and should take care of it” (Mariana, Cambridge YMCA). It is clear that these events were effective in educating children of the Y as well as municipal staff and community members about the importance of walkability and how it can be improved in their communities. The Alliance thanks all those who were involved in making this initiative a success.