The Y has served Oklahoma City since 1889, when it was established one month after the land run that founded Oklahoma City itself. Today, programs are offered through 15 branches, one resident camp, and over 25 other program sites.
While most know it as a place to swim and exercise, the Y strives to be a community center, strengthening the foundations of a robust society through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. The YMCA continues to evolve, meeting the needs of a growing community through school-age child care, summer camps, and partnerships with schools and business to build programs that foster healthy living for children and adults across the Oklahoma City metro area.
The Y is much more than a place to exercise. We are a community center for a robust population of individuals and families who want to live an active, healthy life in order to achieve their God given potential.
The Y has a long history of supporting the unique needs of the communities we serve. We believe that children and adults will prosper in a nurturing environment surrounded by people who care about them. Our locations provide a variety of programs that engage the spirit, mind, and body. In addition to our facilities, we operate the Military Welcome Center, a refuge for service men and women travelling through Will Rogers World Airport, and Camp Classen, our resident site located in Davis, OK. Our Before and Afterschool program serves over 2,000 children in the metro area. This program allows children to get help with homework, eat a nutritious snack, and exercise each day in a safe environment. The Y has a policy to never turn anyone away due to the inability to pay. For many, this is the only way they will be able to participate in YMCA programming. Financial assistance is made possible through the generous support of individuals, businesses, and foundations.
YMCA Achievers is a college readiness and career exploration program that places professionals in the Oklahoma City area in the classroom and in outside career exploration enrichment settings at several underserved high schools-Douglass, Capitol Hill, and Santa Fe South.The curriculum is designed to help minority and underserved teens set and pursue high educational and career goals. Through academic support, career discovery, and mentoring, YMCA Achievers helps teens raise their academic standards, develop a positive sense of self, build character, and explore diverse college and career options. Students meet and interact with professionals who serve as role models to inspire them to greater heights.
Data is collected in a number of ways to evaluate the success of the Y Achievers program. Student observation by the program director and volunteer mentors helps to gauge student behavior, interest, preparedness, willingness to participate, etc. Teachers are interviewed intermittently throughout the year to make sure everything is going well, and an end of year verbal evaluation is held with the teachers so they can provide constructive criticism and also tell what they really liked about the program. Mentors are also surveyed verbally throughout the program to address any issues or highlight any great achievements. Mentors also take part in a written volunteer survey at the end of each year and are given the opportunity to share their thoughts, concerns, positive points with the entire mentor group during a luncheon at the end of the year. Students are surveyed at the end of each program year using a Likert scale. The results of this survey are listed below.
89%of participants strongly agreed or agreed that they learned valuable skills or information through Y Achievers
80% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that Y Achievers has helped them make better decisions
74% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that Y Achievers has made them want to try harder in school
78% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that attending Y Achievers has made them more successful in school and in their personal life
86% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that they feel more prepared for college because of the Y Achievers program
79% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that the Y Achievers mentors care about them and make them feel important
88% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that the Y Achievers mentors care about their future
84% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that they feel safe when they are in the Y Achievers program
75% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that they would like to be a part of the Y Achievers next year
Short-term success in our Before and After School happens when our program has a positive impact on his or her life. Whether it is improved reading skills, higher test scores, or less behavioral problems in the classroom, the Y strives to provide the support necessary for children to perform better in school and at home. Success is often found in small changes children make, for example, it may be a child looking for healthier food options in the cafeteria or making a healthier snack at home. Our Y counselors help children work through their feelings, stay physically active, and help them better understand subjects at school.
We evaluate internally on a regular basis. Site visits, assessments, and peer-to-peer training and program enrichment activities are all a part of the program evaluation and improvement process. Additionally, DHS can come in and observe us, as does C.A.T.C.H., which is operated by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. Site Directors are encouraged to know the families and develop a healthy rapport with parents that encourages them to share his/her concerns. Some sites have Parent Committees or even Child Councils that allows everybody to have a voice in the program.
Our future state leaders are in school right now. The goal of Youth in Government is to educate middle and high school students on the importance of understanding democracy. This program engages students in unique opportunities to participate in the legislative process through identification of social issues, drafting legislation, and appointing delegates to debate bills on the floor of the House and Senate Chambers at the State Capitol once a year. This program provides challenges to students to research and prepare civil and criminal trials, work with attorney advisors, and learn to use technical writing and media relations skills. Youth in Government is open to students in grades 7-12 across the state of Oklahoma. The opportunities the Y provides youth to learn and engage in the democratic process is preparing our state for responsible leadership for generations to come.
The Military Welcome Center is a refuge for the brave men and women who serve our country. As you know, our service personnel sacrifice family, friends, and safety in order to protect our country domestically and internationally. They leave loved ones behind for months or even years at a time while on missions in other parts of the nation or world. Each year, tens of thousands of military personnel from all branches of the armed services travel through Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. Most are new recruits waiting to catch a bus to basic training at Fort Sill in Lawton, OK. They are usually no older than 18 or 19 and are often scared and lonely, waiting for hours without any entertainment or conversation. Others are active duty service men and women who are traveling home or waiting for a flight to their next destination. The MWC serves approximately 34,000 military personnel
and their loved ones each year. Those who are hungry, thirsty, or tired can
find food, drink, and a place to rest. Encouraging words from volunteers and
other veteran soldiers who have experienced the rigors of military life relieve
the anxiety of new recruits. Some carry the heavy burden that combat and being
away from family brings. It is not easy for them to discuss with family members
some of the things they have seen or done while serving their nation, but they
often open up to our volunteers and other soldiers. The Y feels an obligation
to continue this service to the people who protect us.
Success is in the numbers. We monitor facility usage to make sure we are serving as many military men and women as possible each year. We also gauge success by the many verbal and sometimes written comments we receive by those who are using the facility. The level of appreciation received from the people who work out at the airport is always encouraging. Potential and existing donors truly understand the need for the Military Welcome Center. It is our duty to provide a restful place to serve those who bravely serve our country.
More and more Oklahomans are surviving their battles with cancer. Even so, the negative effects of cancer can linger for years. To help survivors and their loved ones cope with the emotional, physical, and financial tolls that cancer causes, the YMCA has partnered with the Lance Armstrong Foundation to offer LIVESTRONG at the Y. LIVESTRONG allows cancer survivors to participate in a 12-week program designed to help them rebuild their strength and self-esteem. The average cancer patient with medical insurance spends $10,000 to $20,000 in out-of-pocket treatment expenses by the time their cancer is gone. LIVESTRONG is offered at no cost to the participant. However, it costs the Y $202 per participant to offer the program. The first group of 28 graduates completed the program in early 2012. Since then, four LIVESTRONG at the YMCA programs are running at the Downtown, Earlywine Park, Edmond, and North Side locations.
Tammy Padgett is a 10-year breast cancer survivor and mother of two. Prior to her diagnosis, Tammy enjoyed attending kickboxing classes and being physically active. Tammy wanted to get stronger and more flexible during her time with LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, and has succeeded. Tammy pushed herself through the coaching of her instructors and motivation from her fellow participants. Additionally, she was also able to provide support and hope for those participants who were in the earlier stages of their recovery.
Dr. Sheryl Flowers is a mother, retired Superintendent, and an ovarian cancer survivor. Sheryl was looking for support through her treatment and battle with cancer, and found LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. Sheryl wanted to improve her overall health and well-being as well as combat the effects of “chemobrain.” Through her exercise program which included completing crossword puzzles and word searches while riding the recumbent bike, Sheryl has seen improvements in her strength and ability to multitask. Additionally, Sheryl has found an extended family through her LIVESTRONG at the YMCA instructors and fellow participants.
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