Motion for all ages: Silver Falls Family YMCA grants access to healthy life style programs

June 2021 Posted in Community, Outdoor Life, Sports

By Brenna Wiegand

A dryland swim team workout at Silver Falls Family YMCA. The Y offers a wide range of programming to enrich the lives of youth and families in the Silverton area.

A dryland swim team workout at Silver Falls Family YMCA. The Y offers a wide range of programming to enrich the lives of youth and families in the Silverton area.

Lifeguards Catherine Hyde and Kate Fronza are among many Silverton High School students making up the YMCA staff. The Y is always looking for kids who love water to join the program.

Lifeguards Catherine Hyde and Kate Fronza are among many Silverton High School students
making up the YMCA staff. The Y is always looking for kids who love water to join the
program.

for Silver Falls Family YMCA to meet the needs of the community it serves.

“When COVID first started over a year ago the Y jumped right in with emergency childcare, providing it for a lot of people at a super low cost,” Brandon Lemon, Chief Operations Officer for Family YMCA of Marion and Polk Counties, said. “We had kids trying to do their schoolwork at home with little brothers and sisters running around and making a lot of noise – very distracting.”

YMCA now offers childcare for up to ten hours a day, providing meals and working closely with the Silver Falls School District to create a place where kids can log on and do their work and take advantage of many other fun activities in the afternoon.

Then came the September fires and while the demand for emergency childcare stepped up, the Y also provided a place for people – many without water or housing – to take showers.

“By helping those impacted by the fires, we were right where we needed to be,” Lemon said. “It’s been amazing to hear these parents talk about how it helped them get back on their feet.

“We feel the biggest word here is generosity and we’ve been able to be generous to a lot of families because of how generously others have supported us,” he said. “They see what we are doing and want to be part of it.”

The City of Silverton removed two sides of the pool enclosure to enable the pool to reopen last winter in a safe manner. 

“It’s because we have created that environment and level of trust that we were able to offer a lot of things last year,” Lemon said, “It was nice to see families get back into the water together.

“We continue to serve more and more people, but it takes a lot of people in the community and we appreciate each and every one of them,” Lemon said. “We give out a lot of scholarships; people have come into our program for 7-8 months without paying anything just because we have been able to provide funds and are always looking out for more funding.

“We have amazing staff that works at the pool,” Lemon said. “During the ice storm Silver Falls YMCA staff made up most of the volunteers in United Way’s effort in Salem. We had about 11 staff who were displaced themselves, but they chose to go out into the neighborhoods to help clean up.

“When people ask me ‘What does the Y do?’ I say we’re here to fill needs in the community,” Lemon said. “People need showers; childcare; we can help with that. We started sending them home with packets of things for the kids to do, just trying to be intentional in finding ways
to help.

“It’s all part of our goal to help people
get back to being healthy in mind, spirit and body.”

The YMCA serves the whole age continuum in its programming.

“One of our biggest things with the older adults is reducing social isolation,” Lemon said. “We believe they need community and that they still have a lot to give.

“We want to make sure that older adults feel like the best days of their lives are still ahead of them.”

Popular among the older set are the Aquacise classes offered 11 times a week and then there’s Pickleball, where participants range anywhere from eight to 80 years of age.

“Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America and we know that is one of the best things for seniors and adults,” Lemon said. “They play four days a week and it’s just a great environment.”

The Y employs 45-50 mostly part-time staff that include lifeguards, swimming instructors, sports coaches and youth development staff.

“We have some great facilities and a lot of great instructors, many coming from the high school swim team,” Lemon said. “YMCA is a starter job for some, and we work diligently with kids on what it looks like to be a good employee and be responsible and respectful, but we also understand that they have a busy life as well and we try to accommodate them.”

The Y’s most recent program is a middle school kickball league, which has been well received.

“It’s for the kids but the parents were upset because they wanted to play, too,” Lemon said. “I believe in July we will have an adult kickball tournament as a fund raiser.”

A lot of the Y’s community outreach is geared toward strengthening families, such as through family art nights, Zoom Bingo and game nights.

Family Swim looks a little different
these days, with areas blocked off for individual families; the Y even gives family swim lessons.

Lemon helped teach a recent class, “A Healthy Weight and your Child” for kids 7-13 who fall within the 95th percentile of obesity.

“There was a whole family involved together and so when they talked about going home, writing goals and living a healthier lifestyle they were all on the same page,” Lemon said. 

“We brought this family together over 25 sessions of work and it was amazing to see them set goals together and accomplish them and increase their family connection.

“We want to make sure the Y is known as more than just a gym and swim; there is so much more that we do,” Lemon said. 

“I personally think we are one of the best-kept secrets which is a shame because we don’t want to be a secret.

“What I love about the YMCA and why I work here is that we don’t ever turn anyone away because of an inability to pay,” he said. 

“No matter what it is, if somebody wants to be part of a program, we are not going to let financials be a burden.”

Silver Falls Family YMCA

Silverton Community
Swimming Pool

Contact: Kait Barnes, Aquatics Coordinator

503-873-6456;
kbarnes@theyonline.org

www.theyonline.org

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