Submitted by Whatcom Family YMCA
On March 16, the Whatcom Family YMCA closed its doors in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Though their main facilities may not be open, the Y continues to support Whatcom County by adapting programming to meet the current needs.
Providing essential care for frontline workers
While the Y suspended afterschool programs offered at 21 schools throughout the county, they have continued school-age childcare for essential workers. Collaborating with PeaceHealth, the Bellingham and Ferndale School Districts, and the Whatcom County Health Department, the Y is operating two school sites with full day programs for children in kindergarten through 5th grade whose parents are first responders, medical employees, or grocery and pharmacy staff. Additionally, the Y is providing early learning care for essential workers as well. All sites are following health department guidelines and recommendations regarding social distancing and temperature checks.
Additionally, the Y is providing early learning care for essential workers as well. All sites are following health department guidelines and recommendations regarding social distancing and temperature checks.
Delivering healthy meals
Throughout the year, YMCA vans are used to transport kids to activities, camps, trails and field trips. Now, these idle vans have been put to use delivering much-needed food boxes. Working together with Unified Command, the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County, and the Bellingham Food Bank, certified YMCA drivers bring vital food across the county to ensure children have access to healthy meals that would typically be available to them during the school day.
Keeping members engaged and fit
Physical activity and social connectedness are important in YMCA senior exercise classes. With facilities closed, the Y has gotten creative to keep the momentum going. Monday-Friday, using the Zoom meeting app, seniors can join a live 30-minute group exercise class either seated or standing with their very own Whatcom Family YMCA instructors. At the end of each session, participants have the opportunity for a quick chat too.
The Y has also posted links to several other virtual workout platforms, such as YMCA360 and MOSSA Move. For families, there is also a link for Trail Blazer/Girls on the Run challenges, which are open to anyone in the community, even non-Y members. These fun challenges can be done inside or outside and do not require special equipment. The Y’s new Active Older Adult E-newsletter is filled with tips for healthy activities seniors can engage in at home, and it helps individuals stay connected even while apart. The Whatcom Family YMCA has been providing services to our community for over 120 years. In times of need, they have always stepped up to help our neighbors, and they continue to do so today when we all could use a helping hand more than ever.