Practice makes perfect!

At Hartford Pre-K YMCA we like to reinforce the things they do in their classrooms into the activities we do in our after school care program. We understand the importance reinforcing skills such how to spell and write their first and last name is important. One of the activities children do while they are with us in the afternoons is practice writing, tracing and spelling their names.  In this picture Aliceea Richards is tracing her name perfectly.  She first came into the classroom saying she can’t trace it because she doesn’t know how to, and after a little motivation telling her there’s no such thing as “can’t”, the outcome of her paper was marvelous.  This activity is building student’s confidence to complete things at the best of their ability and improving fine gross motor skills.

Written by Chamyra Walton

Child Care Aide


WinterFest 2014

This week the Downtown Y has been volunteering their time at Hartford’s WinterFest at Bushnell Park.  We have been collecting hats and gloves over the past few weeks to give away to children who do not have hats and gloves that come to skate at the park. We collected them from members, board members and staff. Many of our staff and board members also volunteered their time to go to the park and distribute the hats and gloves. The smiles on the kids faces were priceless! Several of them even tried to return the hats, thinking that they were supposed to. When they were told they could keep them, they were so surprised and happy!!

This is all part of our work of forming partnerships in the community!

Sue- Downtown


West Hartford YMCA’s Annual Campaign Social

Last night the West Hartford YMCA held an Annual Campaign Social at the Governor’s Residence to honor our amazing volunteers and staff. It’s no secret that without our volunteers, we would not be able to accomplish as much as we do. Their dedication and generosity allow us to provide the community with the resources and support that they need. We are SO thankful for their help and it was great to be able to dedicate a night in their honor.

Honored at the event were individuals from our Board of Directors, volunteers who have dedicated 5 or more years to the Y, Annual Campaign supporters, past LIVESTRONG AT THE Y participants and the members of our teen L.E.A.D program. Our Executive Director, Shawn Fongemie, presented our Board of Directors and longstanding volunteers with a framed certificate in honor of their hard work. Their commitment to helping us and the community deserved to be rewarded. They are truly amazing people.

Annual Campaign Social1

One of my favorite parts of the night was listening to the amazing speeches that were given. One of the individuals who spoke was a previous participant of our LIVESTRONG AT THE Y program. He expressed how much this program helped him during his recovery from a battle with cancer. The cancer made him feel like a stranger in his own body and he longed to return to the way he was before his diagnosis. He gained a lot of weight and didn’t seem to have the strength or motivation to lose it, but after joining LIVESTRONG AT THE Y, all of that changed. The support from others going through the same struggles and the guidance from the trainers in the program helped him to get back into shape and gain control of his life again. It  truly was an inspiring speech.

The event was definitely a success. We were able to thank a few of the many people who make the YMCA what it is. Thank you to all who attended. We hope you had as much fun as we did!

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Camp Changes Lives

My child had a hard time with making friends and her self-esteem was very low by the end of the school year. Over the course of the summer, while she attended a Leader in Training program at the Glastonbury Family YMCA day Camp, she made new friends and has gained confidence to continue making new friends even after the program has ended. Her confidence has skyrocketed and I attribute this to the caring support she received from mentors and peers and helping take care of the younger kids in the program. She has learned leadership skills and has become more physically active. I can’t thank the YMCA family enough for all that they have done to improve our family life. We look forward to many more years with the Glastonbury Family YMCA, not only for my oldest child, but also for my younger ones as well.

It’s the little things.

“One day I was playing the game Mancala with one of the children in our program. At first we weren’t playing by the real rules, but soon this child expressed to me that she really wanted to learn how to play “the real way”. At her request I taught her how to play. She was very excited and I could tell that learning something new gave her confidence and a sense of accomplishment. We played five games and she won four of them! And I was actually trying! It’s amazing how great it feels to teach children, even if it’s something as simple as how to play a game. I love working with children at the Y and I can’t wait to play Mancala with my new friend next week!”

-Trey Tucker, Childcare Aid at the Tri-Town YMCA

The Road to Recovery

My name is Janine Conti and I am a Certified Health Coach and Independent Team Beachbody Coach. I want to share with you my journey of how I began living a healthy lifestyle.
Two years ago, I was unhappy with my career and I needed a change. I was a teacher and I loved the aspect of helping children learn, but I also had a passion for wanting to help people live vital and healthy lives. At work and in my day to day encounters with people, we would often talk about healthy life choices, healthy eating and ways to exercise. I realized how much I loved sharing my fitness and nutrition tips with friends and so I decided to go back to school and become a Health Coach. I also continued my journey of living a very healthy lifestyle. I began incorporating whole foods in my daily diet and exercising regularly. I was feeling great and beginning to find a balanced healthy lifestyle that I was enjoying.
Then in April of 2013, I was diagnosed with Cancer. It was like getting punched in the stomach really hard! I couldn’t believe that I had cancer… I thought I ate well and exercised enough. I quickly realized how off-balanced my life had been for so many years and this imbalance and stress led to cancer developing in my body.
Just like most people who receive this devastating news, I panicked. I thought immediately of my 3 amazing boys who were going to go through life without their mother. This attitude didn’t sit well with me and after 3 days of feeling at my lowest, I decided to get up and change my outcome. I worked on getting second opinions and then I went with my intuition. I went down a road of finding balance in my treatments as well as in my healing and recovery.
My goal was to rid my body of cancer and so I received radiation, chemotherapy and I also had surgery. In addition to the traditional treatments, I received Reiki, Spiritual healing, bio-identical hormone therapies, and energy and visualization sessions. I also developed a practice of daily journal writing, expressing gratitude, surrounding myself with positive energy, developed my relationships with family and friends, exercised daily, and developed a strong appreciation for our natural world. I saw my future in a very different light. I saw joy and love…. peace and contentment. I also saw health and strength. These visions brought me out of a very dark place and now I am thriving.
After my surgery in September, I developed a very bad infection and was hospitalized for over 20 days. My body had been assaulted from the treatments, surgery and infection and I was at my weakest point physically. My immune system was compromised and I had been placed on very high doses of antibiotics for over a month. My recovery from this was slow. It was here that I learned of a program called Livestrong. It was for cancer survivors. I could barely walk at the time that I joined. We met 2 days a week for 12 weeks and they worked on developing my physical strength and provided group support as well. I had 2 goals when I went into the program. I wanted to get physically stronger so I could ski with my family this winter and the second goal was I wanted to start health coaching again so I could share my experiences, my road to recovery, and what it means to live a fit, active, and vital life.
So here I am today. It’s January of 2014 and I graduated from Livestrong, I skied 10 runs in a row the other day with my family and I have started helping people meet their fitness and health goals once again. If it wasn’t for Livestrong, I don’t think I would be where I am today. It was the inspiration and motivation I needed to begin living again.
Most importantly, I am living a healthy, vital and balanced life. Each day I balance my time between 5 areas. I exercise every day in my Challenge groups, develop my spirituality through appreciation of the beauty in our world and expressing gratitude, help other people live a fit and healthy life (my career), develop my relationships with friends and family and I eat whole foods along with drinking a dense-nutrient superfood shake that builds my cells, tissues, muscles, organs as well as detoxifies my body.
So join me on my journey of living a balanced healthy life. I can’t wait to help you succeed with your challenges and help you develop a balanced, fit and healthy life.

It is with a heavy heart…

Yesterday afternoon, one of our young members passed away after suffering from a severe asthma attack. It was a heartbreaking moment felt all around Wheeler, but watching this community come together has been such an amazing thing to witness. We take everyday for granted, and as many of the Facebook posts on the families page say, we can’t even imagine the loss his family feels. The Buckley family are some of our “regulars”. Ben, his twin brother Adam, and their older sister Madison were three kids that everyone here knows. Ben has touched the lives and hearts of many and we can only hope that we can help his family heal. Ben was an amazing young boy and he will truly be missed. #prayersforben #buckleystrong

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Mission in Motion is off and pedaling!!!!

On March 22nd, The Downtown Y will hold it’s 4th Annual Mission in Motion cycle-a-thon to benefit the Annual Campaign. The event takes place in the atrium of the XL Center from 9:00am-1:00pm.The energy and excitement is growing here at Downtown as we secure sponsorship and teams are starting to form! Kristi, Mary and Vicki Bullock(fundraiser and member extraordinaire) went to dinner the other night and came back with a sponsorship and a team! Go Ladies!!

Our Mission in Motion event involves companies and people forming teams to raise $500 or more per to ride for 4 hours. You can have as many people as you want to ride the bike during the 4 hour time period. We are also looking for sponsorship and raffle prizes from healthy product vendors to compliment our event.

All the money that we raise will directly benefit the wonderful programs we have at the Downtown Y.  Some of these life-changing programs are; Read to Succeed, LiveStrong, FootLights and aquatics. These programs and services are accessible to youth, families and adults regardless of their ability to pay.

If you are interested in forming a team or providing any level of sponsorship please follow this link for more information!

Hoe to see many of you on March 22nd!




So thankful for our volunteer coaches.

Last Friday marked the start of our 2014 Basketball League. After months of mayhem; finalizing rosters, recruiting volunteer coaches and making sure every child got a teammate request, everything has come together and we’re ready for a great season!

Many of our volunteer coaches are coaching their child’s team, which is touching to watch. It’s great to watch fathers and mothers spend  quality time with their children while engaging in a healthy activity that they enjoy. We love being able to give children and parents experiences and memories to share for a lifetime.

We’re VERY appreciative of all of our volunteer coaches who dedicate their time to this league. They are helping the children in our league build confidence and a work ethic that they will carry into adulthood. Being a coach takes a lot of commitment and hard work and while they are not being paid for their time, they are being rewarded with the satisfaction that they are making a difference in children’s lives. This league couldn’t exist without them.
2014 WH Basketball League12014 WH Basketball League2

Proud to be a YMCA teacher.

“My day starts and ends with a smile. What puts it there is knowing I’m making a difference. Every morning I greet my preschoolers with a smile which only grows as I get that first morning hug. Working with such young children is rewarding in many ways. They are grateful and you can see their growth of knowledge over time. One particular case is my youngest student becoming more verbal and proud of his work. He’s so proud to show his parents what he’s created or accomplished at the end of each day. Each day he learns how to recognize the letters of the alphabet and what words start with that particular letter. I’m so proud to see him grow more and more each day I spend with him. My job is not to work with children, but to teach them. I’m proud to be a YMCA teacher.”

-Erin- Allyn Lopez, Tri-Town YMCA