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YMCA Community Impact Award-winners celebrated for enhancing health and wellbeing of local communities

What does an integrated fitness program, an empowerment camp for young girls and a celebration raising awareness for mental health and chronic disease prevention have in common? They’re all YMCA initiatives that positively impacted the health and fitness of its members during the 2022 calendar year. And for these groundbreaking programs, the three YMCAs involved – YMCA of Dane County, Saratoga YMCA and YMCA of San Diego County – have become 2023 YMCA Community Impact Award  winners. Here’s how they did it.

Winner: YMCA of Dane County

Winning initiative: Beyond Beautiful Empowerment Camp

The Beyond Beautiful movement reminds young girls, specifically young girls of color, that they have tremendous inner qualities that, when nurtured and unlocked, have the power to help them overcome any situation in life and change the world. Founded by Dr. Jasmine Zapata, its mission is to help girls – especially those who have experienced adversity – increase their self-esteem, confidence, and resilience. In the summer of 2022, the YMCA of Dane County partnered with Dr. Zapata to bring the Beyond Beautiful Empowerment Camp to young girls in Dane County, Wisconsin. This unique, evidence-based program aligned with national education standards and centered around several core objectives including developing skills, building confidence, health, and wellness, and exploring creativity.

Key people involved:

  • Dr. Jasmine Zapata – Founder, Beyond Beautiful 
  • Kristin Fabisch - Sr. Director of Financial Development YMCA of Dane County
  • Megan Finley - Event Manager YMCA of Dane County

The YMCA of Dane County is part of a nonprofit organization of more than 2,700 YMCAs located in 10,000 communities across the United States. They focus on developing the potential of youth, improving individual health and well-being, and giving back to and supporting communities.

Winner: Saratoga YMCA

Winning initiative: Integrated Community Health Initiatives

The Saratoga YMCA developed its Integrated Community Health Initiatives to help adults and/or active older adults improve health and other areas of wellness beyond traditional fitness. The 2022 series served hundreds of community members. It comprised five health initiatives:

  1. EnhanceFitness: An arthritis management program
  2. Walk with Ease: An arthritis management program that also tackled social isolation
  3. Moving for Better Balance: A fall prevention program
  4. Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring: A blood pressure management program
  5. PWR! Moves: A strength training and balance program for people with Parkinson’s Disease

Key people involved:

Health and Wellness Directors 

  • Jamal Barrow 
  • Lisa Camp 
  • Kyla Scherer 
  • Emily Futral 

Professional Fitness Staff and Educators 

  • Tara Westervelt: MBB, EnhanceFitness, BPSM, Weight Loss Program 
  • Gina Moore: EnhanceFitness, Walk with Ease 
  • JoAnn Buchas: EnhanceFitness, Walk with Ease 
  • Stephanie Rios: Walk with Ease 
  • Helene Scarnici: P4P, PWR! Moves 
  • Rilla Schulte: Walk with Ease  
  • Bryan Scheren: Weight Loss Program 
  • Sue Lipscomb, Association Group Exercise Director Sue Lipscomb
  • The Entire Saratoga Regional YMCA Staff

The Saratoga YMCA is a charitable association that is dedicated to building a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all with key focuses on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. They offer a variety of Hammer Strength and Life Fitness strength equipment including Hammer Strength Plate Loaded, as well as Life Fitness Signature Series Racks and Insignia.  

YMCA of San Diego County

2022 Annual Day at the Bay Event

The YMCA of San Diego County Annual Day at the Bay Event supports senior mental health and chronic disease prevention by providing physical and social activities to enhance the spirit, mind, and body. The 2022 event engaged more than 300 active adults from 14 San Diego-area YMCAs. The fun-filled day of celebration in Mission Bay offered fitness, social, and cognitive activities to support their overall health and wellbeing, such as Zumba, sailing, walking groups, tai chi, yoga, kayaking, and more.

Key people involved:

  • Barb Madsen – YMCA Active Adults
  • Karen Williams – Health & Wellness Director
  • Teri Maas – Senior Manager of Learning & Development
  • Michelle Manly – Health & Wellness Coordinator
  • Anita Keller Scott – Development Director
  • Shannon Hughes – Associate Executive Director
  • Araceli Alejandre – Associate Executive Director
  • Chad Prokop – Associate Executive Director

The YMCA of San Diego is the largest YMCA association in the nation, serving nearly 400,000 San Diego County residents and employing more than 3,500 people. They use Life Fitness and Hammer Strength for most of their strength equipment and some of their cardio, including:

  • Hammer Strength in their free weight areas
  • Cybex Eagle NX or Life Fitness Insignia for Selectorized
  • Circuit Series for Active aging and youth fitness
  • Life Fitness Powermills and Arcs on their cardio

About the YMCA Community Impact Award

The annual YMCA Community Impact Award spotlights YMCA facilities and staff who have gone above and beyond to serve their community during a calendar year. Out of the pool of applicants, Life Fitness selects 10 finalists whose programs and services positively impacted the health and wellbeing of their communities. The final three winners are selected by popular vote and awarded a cash prize. Read more about the awards here and sign up to receive updates here.

By Kristi Casey

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