I am writing to tell a story of a young man named Max.  He is part our Farmington Valley Tsunami swim team.  About a month ago I looked at some times for the Florida meet that we always go to as well as some other qualifying times.  I noticed he was close to achieving these times and went to his parents to let them know.

Max worked hard this season but was struggling to make the times.  Two weeks ago I was speaking to Max’s dad, Matt, as he waited for Max to get dressed.  I knew Max needed something.  As Max exited the boys locker room and they were getting ready to leave, I told Max to swim the upcoming race for him, this was his race and he could do it.

Max remembered what I told him and he and his family told me that he made his times at the swim meet.  When I read this tears came to my eyes, tears of joy knowing that Max had done it.  There are many things that inspire me and what Max did that weekend is on my list.  We all have the ability to rise to the occasion we just sometimes forget how to.  I am proud of Max, what he and all his teammates accomplished this season.

photo provided by The Traveling Studio

photo provided by The Traveling Studio

The Wilson-Gray YMCA & Pratt and Whitney team up for The Cognitive Olympics

The Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth and Family Center in Hartford hosted a Black History Month celebration in collaboration with Pratt & Whitney. This event was themed The Cognitive Olympics.

One of the most intriguing activities of the evening was perhaps the Egg Drop competition, where teams of children constructed cushioned containers to protect an egg, which was dropped from varying heights. In addition to this activity, guest Thelma Allen spoke to children about her family’s challenges with racial discrimination in the 1960s and their campaign for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King, Jr.

Several Pratt & Whitney volunteers were on hand during the Cognitive Olympics assisting with the STEM project, holding basketball and relay contests, serving refreshments, awarding prizes and more. The Cognitive Olympics was a great success and the Wilson-Gray YMCA gives thanks to Pratt &Whitney for helping us make this event a wonderful experience.

Pratt & Whitney pic 3 Pratt & Whitney pic 4 Pratt & Whitney pic 5

A Very Special Night….Read to Succeed Celebrates Five Graduates

Last night was an unexpected surprise for me.  Although I have worked at the Y for almost 18 months now, I really did not know that much about the Read to Succeed program at Downtown. Obviously, I knew that it was an adult literacy program, but I definitely did not fully appreciate the impact this program has on the lives of the people who take part in it.

The Downtown Y was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to hold their graduation for Read to Succeed this year at the Boat House on the riverfront in East Hartford. Through a partnership with Riverfront Recapture, we were able to use this beautiful building for our venue.There was amazing food and the room was beautifully decorated for the occasion.

As for the program, Director  Karen Therouxe, has done a phenomenal job, along with all the other teachers in the Read to Succeed program to provide these students with the skills they needed to get them to where they are today. Many of them came to Read to Succeed after suffering embarrassment or fear caused by their reading difficulties. At Read to Succeed they were offered the opportunity to improve their reading and writing skills in a warm and encouraging environment that allowed them to thrive.

I was blown away listening to their stories of how they made the decision to enter the program. One graduate said that one of the reasons that drove her to enter the program was the fear that she would hurt one of her children by not being able to read the label on simple medications. Another talked about the embarrassment of not being able to fill out a form in a doctor’s office…..each of them had an inspiring story to share.

The pride they displayed at having achieved their goal was heart warming. They all came dressed up and brought all their families to share in their accomplishment. All the students received standing ovations upon receiving their certificates at the ceremony.

Although this was a very proud day for these graduates, it was equally, a very proud day for the Downtown Y and all the  teachers from Read to Succeed who helped these students achieve an amazing goal of learning to read. We wish them all success and happiness.

Sue- Downtown



95210 Program

“Today, we had an ice-cream party for the kids as a reward for a contest that the YMCA After-School Program had. They won a contest for sleeping the most hours in a month for the 95210 Program.”
-Cheryl Tracy, Child Care Provider at Highcrest Elementary School

Our Program Director, Jeff Spadaccini, has begun to implement 95210 into his Child Care Programs in order to paint the “whole picture of health” for them. 95210 is a community-wide strategy for promoting child health and life-long healthy habits. With simple health messages behind each number, it’s a great tool for helping children improve their well-being and Jeff has done an awesome job implementing it into his Child Care Programs!

95210 Tenets 
Get at least 9 hours of sleep
Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables
Limit screen time to 2 hours or less
Get at least 1 hour of physical activity
sugary drinks and tobacco

-West Hartford/Tri-Town YMCA

Quality Coaching at the Y

photo provided by The Traveling Studio

We love it when members pop in to tell us how much they love the Y!  A new member who recently moved to CT from Indiana, just wanted us to know how much he appreciates the quality swim coaching his family receives at the Indian Valley Family YMCA.   Thanks to our fine aquatics staff, the greater Ellington community is enjoying aquatics like never before!

Families climb to new heights together!

This weekend I had the great pleasure to talk to a dad and his two young girls. They were in the climbing wall and they mentioned how they really loved Farmington Valley YMCA. It gave them a chance to be a family and meet new people. The father said that now day’s kids spend a lot of time on their iPads or playing video games. Their family has struggled with weight and thinks it is important to live a healthy lifestyle.  The YMCA gives him an opportunity to bring his girls to the climbing wall and be active, explore new challenges and meet other climbers. The father also enjoys that the climbing wall has been a challenge for his girls. He has seen them grow, build self-esteem and confidence.

Climbing wallSubmitted by Marissa Teed, Sports Director, Farmington Valley YMCA

Skills learned Skills Used

Lifeguards learn various skills in the 24 hours of class time they attended. This past lifeguard class at Indian Valley had a great group of potential lifeguards who all went on to complete and become certified lifeguards. One major part of lifeguarding is the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. This past weekend one of our newly certified lifeguards used her knowledge from class to assist a choking victim. She stayed calm and was able to dislodge the airway blockage. She was given “a big hug” then “walked away shaking like a leaf but what a feeling”. There is no other feeling like being able to help someone in need. We are so excited for your newly acquired skills and are excited for the start of your lifeguarding careers!

Fabulous Four at Y New England

Breakers 2014

This past weekend our Indian Valley Family YMCA Breakers swim team sent its first ever  8 and under boys relay team to YMCA New England Championships held at MIT in Boston.  Our relay team consisted of Landon Luginbuhl, Weston LaBrecque, Daniel Nicolescu, and Bruce Bradshaw who placed 20th in the 100 Medley Relay and 19th in the 100 Freestyle relay. On top of this amazing achievement we also had individual accomplishments. Landon placed 5th in the 25 yard butterfly, 4th in the 50 yard freestyle and 6th in the 25 yard freestyle.  Weston placed 19th in the 25 breaststroke and 40th in the 25 yard freestyle.

Congratulations boys!!!!

Silver Sneakers Programs

The Silver Sneakers program started at the Wilson Gray YMCA in the Spring of 2013 for individuals who are fifty five and older. The program started with less than fifteen members and has grown to thirty five participants. The Wilson-Gray YMCA is proud to see the success of the program thus far. Members are pleased to participate in a group with people their age while working towards individual goals. While participating in these classes members are losing weight, coping with stress, building more endurance, and are achieving things that were difficult for them prior to participating in this class. One member depended upon her cane to walk, but by attending class regularly she was able to build enough strength to do without it.

We hosted our first annual pot luck which included healthy food choices, dancing, and shared testimonies. Patrice Hubert, our registered dietitian, gave advice regarding healthy tips and better eating habits. The event was a success and we look forward for many more to come.

sn 1 sn 2 sn 3 Pot luck 3