Addressing Critical Community Needs through Our Mission Priorities
The Lancaster Family YMCA provides a broad range of services to support the health and well-being of people across our community, and we are uniquely positioned to tackle some of Lancaster County’s most pressing needs. In 2015, we made a commitment to utilize our resources and expertise to move the needle in three critical areas – Closing the Achievement Gap, Safety Around Water for children and Chronic Disease Prevention and Recovery.
View our 2017 Community Impact Report for details on what we have accomplished and our plans for expanding programs that support these priorities.
Closing the Academic Achievement Gap
In Lancaster County, 40% of children under age 18 are living in low-income families.
Children from low-income families have a proven “gap in learning” throughout their academic life as compared to their higher-income peers. A lack of financial resources to participate in quality Early Learning programs and ongoing Summer Enrichment experiences are factors that contribute to this problem.
When children don’t participate in quality early learning programs they often start school unprepared, falling behind their peers at the beginning of their academic careers. This problem only deepens when they lack access to summer learning and enrichment opportunities, causing the gap in learning to widen over time. The negative impact of the achievement gap becomes evident in students’ grades, standardized-test scores, low graduation and college attainment rates.
Through Early Learning programs, Summer Camps and Summer Learning Loss prevention programs, the Lancaster Family YMCA is providing the enrichment opportunities children need to start their academic careers on the right path and keep them on track with learning throughout their school years.
Safety Around Water
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-14 years old.
Learning how to swim and be safe around water is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. While all children need water safety skills, 70% of African American children and nearly 60% of Hispanic children have low or no swim ability, putting them at risk for drowning.
The Lancaster Family YMCA is committed to making swimming and water safety a basic life skill for children – particularly for those from communities most at risk of drowning. Through our swimming and Safety Around Water programs we work with children to introduce them to water, help them overcome fears and build their confidence by teaching them skills needed to stay safe.
Chronic Disease Prevention and Recovery
By providing programs that develop and maintain healthy lifestyles, the YMCA is improving the health of our community by helping people reduce their risk of chronic disease and regain wellness after illness.
There were approximately 2800 new cancer cases in Lancaster County in 2017.
Cancer survivors often face challenges in regaining their health and wellness and in overcoming the residual effects of cancer treatments such as fatigue and loss of appetite and strength.
Studies have shown that exercise is one of the best ways for cancer survivors to regain energy. Since 2011, our cancer recovery program run in partnership with Penn Medicine/Lancaster General Health has channeled the power of exercise to help cancer survivors in Lancaster County move past the physical and emotional effects of treatments. In our LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program cancer survivors meet twice a week at the YMCA for group and individual workouts led by a Y personal coach trained in supporting their needs. The program incorporates educational components to help cancer survivors develop coping skills, understand proper nutrition and learn fatigue management techniques while offering a supportive environment where they can share their stories and motivate each other on the journey forward.
Diabetes Prevention Program
In 2018, we launched a pilot class of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention program with the support of the Highmark Foundation. In this one-year, community-based program, participants will work in small groups with a trained Lifestyle Coach to learn how to incorporate healthier eating, moderate physical activity and problem-solving and coping skills into their daily lives.