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The 411 on the YMCA

The YMCA logo symbolizes a healthy spirit, mind and body.
Courtesy of YMCA

The YMCA - no, not the song by the Village People - is the largest non-profit community service organization in America. You've most likely worked out at the Y, but it's more than just a gym. Get the info on this place where you can exercise AND volunteer!

YMCA - Back in the Day

YMCA stands for Young Men's Christian Association. It's not just for young, Christian men, but it started out that way, back in 1844 in London, England. A man named George Williams and a few other people started Bible study classes to make up for the lack of healthy activities for guys. The first YMCA in North America opened in Montreal, Quebec in November 1851, and in Boston just a month later. There are now over 2,600 YMCA locations across the US! Their programs are still based on Christian values, but it's open to people of all faiths, races and ages.

YMCA - More Than a Gym

Either you or someone you know has played basketball, lifted weights or taken swimming lessons at the YMCA - but it's more than just a place to play sports. The Y offers fitness classes like yoga, aerobics and martial arts, art classes, camping, job training and even teen nights, where you can listen to music, dance and just hang with friends in a safe environment. Unfortunately, YMCA programs aren't free, but they offer financial aid for people who can't afford the full fees.

YMCA - Get Involved!

If you want to volunteer throughout the year or just for the summer, the YMCA is a great place to start. You can coach a b-ball team, lead a yoga class, read to preschool kids, cook for a bake sale or greet people at the front desk. There are many more ways you can help out, so contact your local YMCA for more info!

YMCA - Did U Know?

  • The YMCA logo is a black and red "Y." The red part is a triangle, with the three sides symbolizing its mission to "build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all."
  • Basketball, volleyball, racquetball and swimming pools were all developed by YMCA instructors.
  • Father's Day was created by Sonora Smart Dodd at a meeting at the Washington YMCA.
  • The Village People released the disco hit, Y.M.C.A., in 1978. A dance that spells out the four letters is still popular at school dances, summer camps and sporting events.
  • To find a YMCA location near you, check out YMCA USA and YMCA Canada!
  • Related Stories:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • The American Red Cross
  • More Places to Volunteer!
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