We're here for our community.
The YMCA of Hamilton|Burlington|Brantford is a charitable organization and we are here to help individuals and families in our communities stay healthy in spirit, mind and body while gaining the skills and opportunities they need to thrive.
We strive to create vibrant and healthy communities where everyone belongs and has the opportunity to reach their full potential. However, there are formidable challenges to achieving this goal.
Poverty in our Communities
While poverty rates have been falling in recent years, the child poverty rate in both Hamilton and Brantford remains higher than provincial and national averages. Economic divides also exist in Burlington and create disparities in the ability to access the critical programs and services to support overall well-being.
The YMCA Tackles the Broad Determinants of Health
The effects of social isolation have been a growing problem across Canada, and only increased as a result of the pandemic and multiple lockdowns. Particularly vulnerable are seniors living alone or in long-term care.
The surge in mobile technologies and online social platforms has also contributed to rising social isolation among Canada's youth and is now recognized as a major barrier to good health and strong communities.
The result is poorer mental health among people of all ages.
At the YMCA, we welcome people of all backgrounds and abilities, delivering programs and services that promote social connection, belonging and opportunities where all people can thrive.
Academic Achievement Gap
Children from low-income families are at a disadvantage economically, socially and educationally and are less likely to succeed in school. The consequences of falling behind are significant; higher rate of high school dropouts, persistent unemployment, high-risk lifestyles, and overall health issues.
In fact, if a child cannot read at their grade level by Grade 3, there is a greater chance they will not graduate high school. More than three-quarters of children who come from low-income backgrounds do not meet this crucial milestone. These children are faced with an academic disadvantage compared to their middle-class peers before even starting school. Once they enter school, the educational disparity continues to grow as children from middle-income backgrounds access after school and summer opportunities. This is known as the 'achievement gap'.
Closing the achievement gap and breaking the cycle of poverty requires a support system within low-income neighbourhoods that provides every child with opportunities. YMCA Beyond the Bell™ is a 100% donor-funded program designed to level the playing field and close the achievement gap so all children can thrive regardless of their family's financial circumstances. Working with local school boards, YMCA Beyond the Bell™ is offered as an after-school and summer program combining recreation, academic assistance, nutritious snacks, and social activities, aimed at building confidence, developing social skills, promoting physical activity and enhancing academic achievement.
Given the extended periods of school closures resulting from COVID-19 we know learning loss is a challenge facing all children. The need to support at-risk children and families is more acute than ever before.
Since 1959, the YMCA has provided clean, safe and affordable transitional housing for more than 170 men in Hamilton’s urban core.
The YMCA Men’s Residence supports men at risk, many facing both health and social challenges. Short-term accommodations are provided on a weekly or monthly basis with 24-hour front desk support, including navigation to critical community support services with key partner agencies.
Amidst the current COVID-19 crisis, the YMCA continues to provide safe and affordable housing for this vulnerable population. Protecting the health and well-being of the residents, we have worked closely with local partners at the City of Hamilton to ensure access to daily meals as the men follow physical distancing protocols.
We have also taken measures within the residence to promote and educate the residents on physical distancing and good hygiene practices and enhanced cleaning protocols throughout the Men’s Residence.
Ensuring the safety of the men and YMCA team members who support them has required increased daily investments and added costs of approximately $1,000 per day.
Health & Well-being
Access to physical activity is a key determinant of health, according to the College of Family Physicians of Canada. We believe that membership to YMCA and the promotion of physical activity is a vital strategy to countering the negative health impacts of an inactive lifestyle, particularly children.
We anticipate increased demand for support and subsidized access to YMCA programs; youth programs, health, fitness and aquatics, children’s after school programs, and child care services.
Over the 160 years of operations, the YMCA has been an anchor organization delivering numerous programs and services to thousands of community members including, children, youth, families, adults and many vulnerable groups.
The inclusive nature of all programs means every child, youth, family and adult, no matter their economic situation, are welcomed at the YMCA and will always have a place to belong. On an annual basis, we provided subsidized access to YMCA programs to more than 20,000 community members.
The pandemic has led to shifts of employees across all sectors and though unemployment rates have begun to stabilize they remain slightly higher than pre-pandemic.
Across Canada, more than 20,000 women left the workforce in 2020 as they struggled to manage the impacts of the pandemic while caring for children and supporting educational needs. Young adults, racialized and Indigenous workers have experienced higher unemployment rates.
The need for reliable Employment Services programming remains high as communities begin the process of pandemic recovery.