For A Better Us

June 15, 2016

More than Just an Excuse to Buy a Tie

Inspired by a Mother’s Day sermon over 100 years ago, Sonora Louis Smart Dodd wondered why there was no similar holiday for fathers. One of six children, Dodd’s father was a single dad and she felt he and others deserved to be honored. After securing support from ministers in Spokane, Wash., her idea came to fruition with the first Father’s Day celebration at the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Many years passed before the day became a national holiday, but today we use the day to honor the fathers and father figures in our lives.

On Sunday, June 19, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast joins the nation in celebrating Father’s Day and recognizing the influence fathers and adult male role models have in children’s lives. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million—or one in three—children live without their biological fathers. Societal factors such as unemployment, work-life balance or a lack of resources can affect a father’s ability to seek support in strengthening his parenting skills and becoming more engaged in the lives of his children.

Studies show that children with close relationships with their fathers and other adult male role models have more self-confidence and exhibit less depression, perform better academically and engage in significantly less drug and alcohol use. The Y, a leading nonprofit in fostering positive youth development, is dedicated to providing both resources and opportunities for fathers to further involve themselves in the well-being and development of their children.

The First Coast YMCA offers a variety of programs that foster understanding and companionship between children and their caregivers. In communities across the country, the Y is committed to ensuring that the 9 million children and teens in YMCA programs reach their full potential by helping them grow—physically, mentally and socially—from young children into active, engaged members of their communities.

Inspired by a Mother’s Day sermon over 100 years ago, Sonora Louis Smart Dodd wondered why there was no similar holiday for fathers. One of six children, Dodd’s father was a single dad and she felt he and others deserved to be honored. After securing support from ministers in Spokane, Wash., her idea came to fruition with the first Father’s Day celebration at the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Many years passed before the day became a national holiday, but today we use the day to honor the fathers and father figures in our lives. On Sunday, June 19, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast joins the nation in celebrating Father’s Day and recognizing the influence fathers and adult male role models have in children’s lives. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million—or one in three—children live without their biological fathers. Societal factors such as unemployment, work-life balance or a lack of resources…


June 13, 2016

Help Your Community’s Health in Just 3 Minutes

The Duval County Department of Health is crafting a plan for health improvement in our area. The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast supports the mission of the initiative, which is to promote, protect, and improve the health of Florida residents through involvement of community partners.

The plan for improvement will target 4 strategic areas, which include access to care, behavioral health sciences, chronic care management, and community engagement and partnerships.

We realize that health care providers and public health officials are not the only parties accountable for impacting and improving our health- we as the community also share responsibility to become informed and empowered about our well-being.

The process for improvement starts with you! If you are a Duval resident, please click here and take three minutes to complete the linked survey.

By sharing previous experiences, and current expectations, your survey responses can help Duval County to shape healthcare in our community for the better.

To learn more about the Duval County Community Healthcare Planning and initiatives, click here.

The Duval County Department of Health is crafting a plan for health improvement in our area. The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast supports the mission of the initiative, which is to promote, protect, and improve the health of Florida residents through involvement of community partners. The plan for improvement will target 4 strategic areas, which include access to care, behavioral health sciences, chronic care management, and community engagement and partnerships. We realize that health care providers and public health officials are not the only parties accountable for impacting and improving our health- we as the community also share responsibility to become informed and empowered about our well-being. The process for improvement starts with you! If you are a Duval resident, please click here and take three minutes to complete the linked survey. By sharing previous experiences, and current expectations, your survey responses can help Duval County to shape healthcare in our community for the better….


June 13, 2016

Tiger Academy Says Goodbye to Their Graduating Class of 2016

Tiger Academy principal Charles McWhite stood looking at a giggling group of huddled 5th graders. “I’ve watched them grow from four-year-olds to big, tall, middle-schoolers to be”, said McWhite.

Tiger Academy is a free public school that is a part of a unique partnership with the Johnson Family YMCA, and a total of 33 fifth grade students will be a part of their June 16th, graduation ceremony.

This graduation, however, will be especially bittersweet because within the graduating class is a group of fifth graders who have been with Tiger Academy since day one. For these students, they will be saying goodbye to staff and classmates that they’ve known for a big part of their young lives.

After a just few moments of observing these students, it became clear that the fifth-graders weren’t just classmates- they shared a much deeper bond.

“They feel like a family,” said McWhite, as he expressed his thoughts that it is Tiger Academy’s emphasis on personal and social responsibility that was responsible for the fifth graders’ success. Additionally, having strong family involvement makes for a unique dynamic for students, and it has helped them to grow and flourish for the length of their time at Tiger.
Summer Letter Quote

Bearing the motto of “Tigers Today, Leaders Tomorrow”, the school focuses on character development, while also holding rigorous academic standards for its students.

McWhte highlighted that it’s these standards and leadership values that will continue to help the fifth-graders to be successful in their long-term academic careers. Although the reality of saying goodbye has set in for the graduating fifth grade class, they are happy to be moving forward to achieving their goals. The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast extends warm congratulations to this year’s graduating class!

Tiger Academy principal Charles McWhite stood looking at a giggling group of huddled 5th graders. “I’ve watched them grow from four-year-olds to big, tall, middle-schoolers to be”, said McWhite. Tiger Academy is a free public school that is a part of a unique partnership with the Johnson Family YMCA, and a total of 33 fifth grade students will be a part of their June 16th, graduation ceremony. This graduation, however, will be especially bittersweet because within the graduating class is a group of fifth graders who have been with Tiger Academy since day one. For these students, they will be saying goodbye to staff and classmates that they’ve known for a big part of their young lives. After a just few moments of observing these students, it became clear that the fifth-graders weren’t just classmates- they shared a much deeper bond. “They feel like a family,” said McWhite, as he expressed his thoughts that it is Tiger Academy’s emphasis on personal and…


June 1, 2016

Get Teens Reading Beyond Text Messages

In summer, when many students lose regular access to books, the challenge to keep teens engaged in reading can be difficult. All First Coast YMCA summer camps dedicate quiet time to solo and group reading programs for young children. But how can you help high schoolers foster a love of books?

1. Meet Them Where They Are

Most teenagers are addicted to technology—and this can be a great place to encourage reading. Help teens move away from only reading text messages and focus on real texts—eBooks and online articles count! Learn more here about the reading habits of tweens and teens.

2. Make Reading Convenient

Be prepared! Bring reading materials on field trips, including magazines or the local newspaper. Having young adult books or short stories within arm’s reach can help teens pass the time before they resort to posting selfies.

3. Make it Social

Invite teens to take the lead by having a monthly book club where they get to select an appropriate book and lead the discussion. Encourage them to post photos of their books and share suggestions within their social media networks.

The benefits of reading will help prepare teens for college and adulthood with stronger skills in: communication, spelling, grammar, writing and vocabulary.

To help teens get started, refer them to this summer reading list:

  • I Become Shadow by Joe Shine
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin
  • My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak
  • Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
  • The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
  • Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
  • Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
  • Dumplin by Julie Murphy
  • Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler
  • Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
  • These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
  • This Side of Home by Renee Watson
  • We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

This list was compiled with help from Chicago Public Library librarians. Have a summer reading suggestion? Tweet it using #BestSummerEver.

In summer, when many students lose regular access to books, the challenge to keep teens engaged in reading can be difficult. All First Coast YMCA summer camps dedicate quiet time to solo and group reading programs for young children. But how can you help high schoolers foster a love of books? 1. Meet Them Where They Are Most teenagers are addicted to technology—and this can be a great place to encourage reading. Help teens move away from only reading text messages and focus on real texts—eBooks and online articles count! Learn more here about the reading habits of tweens and teens. 2. Make Reading Convenient Be prepared! Bring reading materials on field trips, including magazines or the local newspaper. Having young adult books or short stories within arm’s reach can help teens pass the time before they resort to posting selfies. 3. Make it Social Invite teens to take the lead by having a monthly…


May 6, 2016

Enjoy Summer Fun in the Water, But be Safe!

Every summer I feel the same nervous anticipation about my girls.

I say to myself, “Both of them could swim fairly well last year…but will their romp in the water this summer be like starting all over again — a frantic search for a towel when a mere drop of water hits my 6-year-old’s face, or an attempt by my nearly 4-year-old to choke down half the water in the pool, in a day?”

By the end of this summer, I know they’ll be darting through the water like fish, but right now — because their bodies grow every year — it could take some time for them to readjust their movements and techniques to become comfortable with the way their ‘new’ bodies now work in water.

I learned that last year, when teaming up with the YMCA of Florida’s First Coastand its Safety Around Water program, to get the message out about swimming safety and teaching kids life-saving swimming skills.

….To read the rest of the article, click here.

Every summer I feel the same nervous anticipation about my girls. I say to myself, “Both of them could swim fairly well last year…but will their romp in the water this summer be like starting all over again — a frantic search for a towel when a mere drop of water hits my 6-year-old’s face, or an attempt by my nearly 4-year-old to choke down half the water in the pool, in a day?” By the end of this summer, I know they’ll be darting through the water like fish, but right now — because their bodies grow every year — it could take some time for them to readjust their movements and techniques to become comfortable with the way their ‘new’ bodies now work in water. I learned that last year, when teaming up with the YMCA of Florida’s First Coastand its Safety Around Water program, to get the message out about swimming safety and teaching kids…


May 2, 2016

Healthy Kids Day 2016

The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast celebrated Healthy Kids Day® on Saturday, April 30 at the Brooks Family YMCA.

YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, is celebrated at more than 1300 Ys across the country by over 1.2 million participants.  The free community event was designed to inspire kids to keep their minds and bodies active while providing them with activities and resources to achieve their potential all year long. We want to extend another thank you to our community partners (including JAXSPORTS Charities) and to all the families who turned out on Saturday to have fun!

 

“A child’s development is never on vacation, and Healthy Kids Day is a great opportunity to educate families and motivate kids to stay active in mind, body and spirit all summer long,” said Eric Mann, president and CEO of YMCA of Florida’s First Coast.

 

“It is within our core values to support youth development and enhancement throughout the First Coast by focusing on education, health and wellness with positive experiences,” said Rick Catlett, president and CEO of Jacksonville Sports Council. “We are proud to take part in the Healthy Kids Day once again as it continues to encourage outdoor play and inspire a lifetime love of physical activity for local kids.”

 

This year’s Healthy Kids Day featured games, booths, a farm-to-city barnyard, food trucks, giveaways and more activities!

 

In case you missed it, check out the video above to see what a great time we had!

The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast celebrated Healthy Kids Day® on Saturday, April 30 at the Brooks Family YMCA. YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, is celebrated at more than 1300 Ys across the country by over 1.2 million participants.  The free community event was designed to inspire kids to keep their minds and bodies active while providing them with activities and resources to achieve their potential all year long. We want to extend another thank you to our community partners (including JAXSPORTS Charities) and to all the families who turned out on Saturday to have fun!   “A child’s development is never on vacation, and Healthy Kids Day is a great opportunity to educate families and motivate kids to stay active in mind, body and spirit all summer long,” said Eric Mann, president and CEO of YMCA of Florida’s First Coast.   “It is within our core values to support youth development and enhancement throughout the…


May 2, 2016

Farewell to Food Guilt

Stuffing food in an envelope and mailing it oversseas seems an unorthodox form of protest. Unless you’re an 8-year-old who is forced to finish her dinner because “there are starving children in Africa.”

While we would have hoped the protesters of our youth might have gone on to start a revolution, sadly, most have likely joined the eight out of 10 American women who suffer from food guilt. And yes, we mean suffer! Food guilt has many flavors, new ones we’re learning more about each day. It’s about what we eat and what we don’t eat, what we feed our families and having the perfect relationship with food.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE FROM EDIBLE NORTHEAST FLORIDA

Authors

KimSaraSara Glenn is the Director of Strategic Development of Healthy Living Innovations: Nutrition & Obesity for the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast and leads the Y’s nutritional services, including the vertical garden initiative, SEEDifferently.

Kimberly Lewis is the Annual Campaign & Volunteerism Director for the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, is passionate about teaching kids to volunteer, and has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than a decade.

Stuffing food in an envelope and mailing it oversseas seems an unorthodox form of protest. Unless you’re an 8-year-old who is forced to finish her dinner because “there are starving children in Africa.” While we would have hoped the protesters of our youth might have gone on to start a revolution, sadly, most have likely joined the eight out of 10 American women who suffer from food guilt. And yes, we mean suffer! Food guilt has many flavors, new ones we’re learning more about each day. It’s about what we eat and what we don’t eat, what we feed our families and having the perfect relationship with food. READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE FROM EDIBLE NORTHEAST FLORIDA Authors Sara Glenn is the Director of Strategic Development of Healthy Living Innovations: Nutrition & Obesity for the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast and leads the Y’s nutritional services, including the vertical garden initiative, SEEDifferently. Kimberly Lewis is the…


April 22, 2016

A Passion Turned Payoff

Tiger Academy’s Susan Harper Receives a Big Surprise

Teaching for 42 years has taught Susan Harper many lessons, but none prepared her for the surprise she received this week at Tiger Academy. The kindergarten teacher learned she was one of four recipients of the 2016 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching. Each recipient received $15,000.

“It was a big, big surprise,” said Harper with tear-filled eyes. Cheers filled her classroom as Harper held a bouquet of roses and received a hug
from principal Charles McWhite.

“I call them my kids,” said Harper of her students as they began to run up and hug her. Her dedication quickly became evident, as Harper swiftly resumed teaching her students despite the media presence, camera flashes, and applause.

The Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence are among the largest monetary awards for teachers in the nation.

Gilchrist Berg, a Jacksonville-area businessman and longtime YMCA supporter, established the awards in 1998 to honor his 4th grade teacher, Gladys Prior. Teachers are nominated based on criteria including evidence of sustained inspiration to students, evidence of sustained teaching excellence and 10 or more years in the classroom.

Harper feels that part of her students’ success lies in her practice of never placing limits on them of what they can accomplish.

“Tiger Academy is delighted that Ms. Harper has been honored for her dedication,” said principal Charles McWhite. “She continues to push her students towards greater academic achievement, and we hope she will continue to develop young minds in our community for many more years to come.”

Through a unique partnership with the First Coast YMCA, Tiger Academy focuses on providing a nurturing learning environment while emphasizing rigorous learning academic standards, personal responsibility, character development, and strong family involvement.

The other recipients of this year’s Gladys Prior Awards are Scott Sowell, a science teacher at Darnell-Cookman Middle / High School; Judy Reppert, a social students and civics teacher at Martin J. Gottlieb Day School; and Mark McGiveron, a math teacher at Fletcher Middle School.

Tiger Academy’s Susan Harper Receives a Big Surprise Teaching for 42 years has taught Susan Harper many lessons, but none prepared her for the surprise she received this week at Tiger Academy. The kindergarten teacher learned she was one of four recipients of the 2016 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching. Each recipient received $15,000. “It was a big, big surprise,” said Harper with tear-filled eyes. Cheers filled her classroom as Harper held a bouquet of roses and received a hug
from principal Charles McWhite. “I call them my kids,” said Harper of her students as they began to run up and hug her. Her dedication quickly became evident, as Harper swiftly resumed teaching her students despite the media presence, camera flashes, and applause. The Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence are among the largest monetary awards for teachers in the nation. Gilchrist Berg, a Jacksonville-area businessman and longtime YMCA supporter, established the awards in…


April 7, 2016

Your Chance to Be Part of History

Celebrating a Landmark and the Promise of More to Come

For more than sixty years, the Yates Family YMCA in Riverside has been a cornerstone of the First Coast. Generations of residents have come of age both within and beyond its walls. And it has been open to all, with fully one-third of its participants receiving financial assistance. The Yates Y has created memories that will long outlive its mortar and bricks. And it has served as the foundation of a future with the promise of even more to come.

Now, as we move closer to the opening of the new Winston Family YMCA that will replace Yates, we are pleased to announce new community giving opportunities, including founding membership, brick paver, digital and facility recognition, that expand opportunities for First Coast residents to play a role in bringing this neighborhood Y to life.

“It’s not about the size of a gift, it’s the sense of belonging that will last forever within the walls and bricks of this new Y,” said Nekita Nesmith, senior vice president and chief development officer at YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. “From $1 and up, the entire community can take part in helping us create a healthier First Coast by contributing to the Winston YMCA.”

On schedule to open late summer, the two-story Winston YMCA will be a 72,000-square-foot building overlooking the St. Johns River and serve as an attractive destination for Downtown Jacksonville.

New 3D Tour of the Winston Family YMCA

“The impact we expect to generate from the Winston Family YMCA goes beyond the fitness center or the swimming pool,” said YMCA of Florida’s First Coast President and CEO Eric Mann. “The programs and services that we will deliver both inside the building and out in the nearby neighborhoods will foster community connections, create new opportunities for youth and provide support that will positively change the lives of area residents.”

Donate Now

Celebrating a Landmark and the Promise of More to Come For more than sixty years, the Yates Family YMCA in Riverside has been a cornerstone of the First Coast. Generations of residents have come of age both within and beyond its walls. And it has been open to all, with fully one-third of its participants receiving financial assistance. The Yates Y has created memories that will long outlive its mortar and bricks. And it has served as the foundation of a future with the promise of even more to come. Now, as we move closer to the opening of the new Winston Family YMCA that will replace Yates, we are pleased to announce new community giving opportunities, including founding membership, brick paver, digital and facility recognition, that expand opportunities for First Coast residents to play a role in bringing this neighborhood Y to life. “It’s not about the size of a gift, it’s the sense of…


March 30, 2016

The Quiet Research that Led to a Resounding Success in Diabetes Prevention

More than 86 million people, including 22 million people 65 or older, have pre-diabetes, which increases their risk of heart disease, strokes or diabetes. As we’ve watched that number grow, it has somehow felt that despite billions of dollars of research and intervention, there’s little we can do. That feeling shifted last week when Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, announced that Medicare was planning to pay for lifestyle interventions focusing on diet and physical activity to prevent Type 2 diabetes. It’s an example of small-scale research efforts into health services that have worked and that have expanded to reach more people.

Read more from The New York Times

When James joined the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program at the First Coast YMCA, he did it for his own health. What James didn’t know was how his participation would affect his family.

Learn More: Diabetes Prevention at First Coast YMCA

More than 86 million people, including 22 million people 65 or older, have pre-diabetes, which increases their risk of heart disease, strokes or diabetes. As we’ve watched that number grow, it has somehow felt that despite billions of dollars of research and intervention, there’s little we can do. That feeling shifted last week when Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, announced that Medicare was planning to pay for lifestyle interventions focusing on diet and physical activity to prevent Type 2 diabetes. It’s an example of small-scale research efforts into health services that have worked and that have expanded to reach more people. Read more from The New York Times When James joined the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program at the First Coast YMCA, he did it for his own health. What James didn’t know was how his participation would affect his family. Learn More: Diabetes Prevention at First Coast YMCA


Mission Statement: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.