by Melissa LaScaleia
YMCA is a nationally recognized nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that has been promoting its values of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, through its programs and offerings, for more than 150 years.
The YMCA’s offerings are vast: they teach over 107 classes per week in disciplines like aqua fit, strength training, and yoga. Many are geared toward those aged 55 and up or those with physical limitations. They also have after-school programs that are academically and physically focused to provide a safe, supportive space for children and teens.
“I like that the Y is a place for all,” says Hatton Gravely, director of mission advancement for the YMCA of Coastal Carolina. “Any child can participate in our youth sports, summer camps, and after-school programs because our fundraising dollars support the families who need financial assistance. That is the social responsibility part of our mission.”
In anticipation of the New Year, Hatton teamed up with health and wellness directors and the leadership team, as well as directors from Tideland’s Health, to create a New Year’s promotion—the Healthy Habits 90-Day Challenge.
“Most people create New Year’s resolutions and then fall off the path,” Hatton says. “But ultimately, we want to support the community in achieving their healthy living goals year-round. So our promotion is centered on helping people build healthy habits over the course of three months, with all of the benefits we offer through the YMCA. We’ll track their progress on a leaderboard, and they can win prizes in addition to getting healthier. It’s friendly competition, personal accountability, community-oriented, and fun.”
The YMCA has pools and fitness equipment; all classes are free for members; and they provide babysitting services for children so parents can focus on their workouts. In October they finalized a partnership with Tideland’s Health, which gives members access to additional resources, like lectures with health professionals and health screenings. Throughout next year, they’ll be providing more content and services at each of the YMCA branches.
“Anyone who wants to participate can adopt healthy habits every week– things that are easy to do but enhance your lifestyle,” Hatton says. “Often people choose trendy goals like losing weight, but I can’t necessarily check off “lost weight” on my goal log after a week at the gym. When we try to measure things out of our control, it gets defeating. So we opted to concentrate on simple and measurable things: I exercised for 30 minutes, cooked at home, got eight hours of sleep, or took a mindful moment.”
Tricia Harrison is the healthy living director at YMCA, a role focused on wellness and fitness that she stepped into this past August. She’s been with the YMCA for over twenty years, mostly in Ohio, and has always been, along with her entire family, a fitness enthusiast. Tricia thinks of health as a circle comprised of adequate water; sleep; exercise; nutritious food; mental peace and spiritual nourishment. When she accepted the new position in Myrtle Beach, she envisioned helping people to implement all pieces of the circle.