YMCA of Northwest North Carolina – A Community Dedicated to Wellness

photography by JEJ PHOTOS

When it comes to understanding the true significance of community, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina checks all the boxes – with a healthy dose of fun always included!

With its steadfast mission to help members grow in spirit, mind and body, that YMCA mantra isn’t only about fitness. Overall wellness exists on so many levels – with personal goals that are so often achieved by joining together with others.

With several convenient locations, indoor and outdoor pools, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, free group exercise classes like Hot Yoga and Les Mills BODYPUMP™, sports for those of all ages including pickleball, racquetball and basketball, and the added bonus of free childcare – YMCA activities impact the entire community with competitive spirit, hope and an unmistakable positive outlook! Plus, all YMCA of Northwest North Carolina members have access to every location and all programs. Your membership at one branch allows you full access and all amenities at each of the 12 locations.

While striving to build a better community for families and residents of all ages, the YMCA has distinctive programs modeled to impact individual groups in the area, in the most positive fashion. Reaching Our Potential (ROP), Let’s Get Fit (LGF) and Warrior Sports are three successful examples!

Reaching Our Potential Initiative

Reaching Our Potential (ROP) is designed to give referred middle and high school-aged teenagers a free membership to the YMCA, and therefore, provides a safe place to go outside of school hours. This is a referral-based program, with students recommended by guidance counselors, local police and sheriff’s departments, clergy or YMCA employees.

The ROP program provides structured activities that allow students to place themselves where they feel most comfortable, at their convenience, in their safe space. For many, it’s playing basketball, completing homework assignments or simply hanging out and having conversations with friends.

During their after-school time at the Y, teens take advantage of all the fitness facilities, group classes, time on the basketball courts and in the pool, etc. Above all, teens are given a safe place to spend time after school, keeping them from potentially dangerous situations or unsafe areas.

Let’s Get Fit

This amazing fitness class is specially designed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

LGF is an important fitness initiative tailored for the IDD community. While involved in this program, participants enhance their fitness levels, make new friends and benefit from both the physical and mental well-being that is nourished within the inclusive YMCA community. The Let’s Get Fit class has been a popular staple at the YMCA, and many of the participants have known each other – and their instructors – for years, creating a true family feel. A free YMCA membership is included with consistent participation in the LGF program.

Warrior Sports 

Our popular year-round Warrior Sports offerings are designed for children ages eight through 17, with diversabilities, and include basketball, flag football and soccer. Appropriate for all skill levels and athletic abilities, Warrior Sports was the dream of volunteer coach Nicole Romano. The program teaches the fundamentals of each sport, along with an emphasis on character building, teamwork, sportsmanship and nurturing a positive mindset. All players receive a jersey, the necessary equipment for their chosen sport to practice with at home and an end-of-season trophy – and the results are heartwarming!

“We are so thankful to Nicole for dreaming up this program and to the YMCA for their support,” says parent Gins Coates. “We are thrilled that there’s a place where our son can confidently play various sports with peers and have a coach who understands his needs. He is free to be himself and can have fun – and exercise – at the same time. He’s gotten to practice some great fundamental motor skills, as well as work on his social skills, while playing basketball, soccer and flag football. Thank you for creating a league where our son can successfully play!”

There are also plans for Warrior Sports to expand to other locations in the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina Association in 2024.

Health Care Where It’s Needed

With easily available healthcare a huge factor in overall wellness – and broadening their longstanding alliance – Novant Health and the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina have formed a strategic partnership to encompass the Y’s 14 branch locations across Alexander, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, Stokes, Wilkes and Yadkin counties. Guided by the local Community Health Needs Assessments, the organizations will expand wellness programming, support youth sports and establish physical and tele-health clinic locations to create integrated healthcare access for the region.  

Just as they would write a prescription for medication, physicians are now writing prescriptions for the YMCA in an effort to help those who could benefit from the Y’s programs and services to blend exercise and healthy habits into their overall lifestyle.

Tim Gribble, association director of Community Integrated Health & Offsite Wellness for the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, hopes people whose doctors refer them to the Y will like what they find and see how easy it is to join. 

“We never turn anyone away due to an inability to pay,” Gribble explains. “The Y will waive the joining fee for anyone referred by a Novant Health physician. We never want cost to be a barrier.” 

There are also virtual care clinics housed within Y branches, which is a real advantage when you don’t want to sit in a crowded waiting room, or if you need a quick check-up for a child. 

“When the Y is open, virtual care is open,” he says. “Many branches have extended hours, with some open as early as 5:00 a.m., and staying open until 9:00 p.m. Not many urgent care centers are open that early. Access isn’t just about where care is located, it’s also about when it’s available. It needs to be convenient for people who have difficulty getting off work.” 

The YMCA is more than just a gym; it’s a place where you can feel like your membership and support is making a real difference. Get started at the Y, building up your physical and mental health, while also strengthening the community around you.

Visit YMCAnwnc.org for more information on the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, including programs, class schedules and finding the Y nearest you. Remember, donations to the Annual Impact Fund ensure many of these programs are available at no cost to participants. The YMCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.


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