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“It’s the camaraderie that keeps me coming back.”

“Water aerobics is perfect for my joints,” says Dee. “It’s an amazing total body workout.” Dee is a 61-year-old cancer survivor who has managed to stay active at the Y. She is quick to point out that the camaraderie here at the YMCA is amazing and keeps her coming back. She receives support from members and staff. She credits the Wellness Coach who helped her through her orientation with having a tremendous impact on her life. Dee’s friends from the Y kept pushing for her to return after surgery and to get back into her social groups even before she was able to resume her exercise routine.

It is not unusual to spot Dee in the lobby as part of our Knitting Club, with her knitting needles flashing nearly as brightly as her smile. She can be found in the pool taking class nearly every day. Dee also began taking our Adult Conditioning Class six months ago. She is actively recruiting new members to join her in the class. Dee says, “I love the Adult Conditioning Class. It is a topnotch class for anyone who hasn’t done free weights. I feel stronger and it’s fun.”

Dee is a constant source of encouragement and inspiration to other members.

The Y brings people together every day, providing opportunities to promote healthier decisions that support physical, intellectual and spiritual strength.
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A story you have not heard on national news is about how the YMCAs in the Greater Houston area have supported the relief efforts. Though half a dozen area YMCAs were flooded, they worked hard to reopen as quickly as possible and make their facilities accessible to everyone. The Y is thankful for all the contributions and will continue to stretch those resources so they can affect as many people in need as possible.

  • Provided child care and programming for children sheltering at the George R. Brown Convention Center
  • Housed about 75 Firemen and 50 National Guard Troops
  • Collection and distribution site for tons of donations of clothing, diapers, pillows, blankets, water . . .
  • Currently open for showering, cooling-off, charging phones, community emotional support with a cup of coffee and a smiling face
  • Child care sites open in support of families who need safe care while they work to get their homes livable again

If you would like to be a part of the YMCA’s relief efforts, text the word HOUSTON to 91999 to make a donation or use the link below. Your support will help them provide the families and individuals who come to YMCA with their basic needs in this time of crisis.





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Good-Life Activities for Your Family

By Gina Shaw

You may have heard it on the news or morning talk shows: Have dinner together as a family often. There’s even a national initiative, Family Day, that reminds parents “what your kids really want at the dinner table is you.” Studies have found that kids who have frequent family dinners are less likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. But it’s not just about the food, say experts: it’s about the connection.

Whether you’re eating dinner, going for a nature walk, or holding a family karaoke night, spending time together builds healthy families and healthy kids. “If you grew up in a healthy family that did these things, it makes intuitive sense to you: this is what glues families together,” says Meg Cox, author of The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Everyday. “It’s about a sense of connection, of being loved, a sense of identity and security that runs very deep.”

What family activities can you do with your kids to build those essential connections? The sky’s the limit! To get started with some fun family activities, try these tips from Cox and Lawrence Cohen, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Playful Parenting.

Family Fun With Food

Play “conversation in a jar” (or basket, or bin). Keep a container on the dinner table with blank slips of paper, and whenever you think of a cool question, write it down and toss it in. Some examples from Cox: “What’s something you can do better than your parents?” “If there were a holiday named after you, how would people celebrate it?” “Make up a nickname for everyone at the table — nothing mean!” Once a week, use some of the questions in the basket to spark conversations at dinner.

Shake it up. Every so often, have a wacky family dinner night. “Sometimes we’ll eat with the big serving utensils, use serving platters instead of plates, and drink out of big pitchers instead of cups,” says Cohen. Or you can put food coloring in everything and make goofy food. Or just serve dinner as a picnic, on a blanket in the living room or playroom. WebMD Feature | Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on June 29, 2010 Sources SOURCES: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University, New York.

Have a “reading dinner.” Choose a book and read aloud while you eat. If your kids are old enough, they can take a turn. “I think the reason my kids ate all their vegetables when they were younger is that the rule was, you have to keep eating if I’m going to read!” says Cox.

Enjoy special food outings. Have a regular, simple ritual, like going for ice cream after dinner once a week, or walking to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning. Cook together as a family. Even the youngest child can help in the kitchen by pouring or stirring. “Just remember, it’s about the process, not getting to the outcome,” says Cohen. “It’ll probably take you longer to make the cookies than if you made them yourself, and the kitchen will get a lot messier. But if you tell them to stop and let you do it because they’re making a mess, you’ve blown it. It’s about time together.”

Invite friends to a monthly “soup night.” This is about more than just your family — it’s about connecting with a community of friends. On soup night — maybe the first Saturday of every month? — make a huge pot of chili or stew and let it be known that friends are welcome to drop by with a bottle of wine or a loaf of bread. “Having things like that, that sense of community, lets kids grow up in a place where they feel safe,” says Cox. “They know there are other adults who will look after them.”

Family Exercise and Outdoor Play

Introduce your child to a sport you love. Whether it’s yoga or ice skating, fishing or biking, almost no child is too young to be at least a small part of your favorite activity. “If it’s something the parent loves, the parent’s enthusiasm will make it fun,” says Cohen.

Go for family walks together. If you think your child will be bored with a simple walk, try Cox’s trick: storytelling walks. “We’d make up stories together — for example, after the movie ‘Toy Story,’ we’d imagine what our sons’ toys would do while we were gone,” she says. “We’d make up elaborate scenarios about which one would get lost, which ones would help find him, and so on.”

Make up indoor versions of outdoor games. “Thank goodness we never destroyed anything, but we did do indoor soccer in the front hall,” Cox says. WebMD Feature | Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on June 29, 2010.

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University, New York.
Meg Cox, author, The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Everyday, Princeton, N.J.

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Bad weather outside is your opportunity for fun family activities and bonding time inside.

By Karen Appold
Reviewed by Pat F. Bass, III, MD, MPH

Bad weather outside is your opportunity for fun family activities and bonding time inside.

When the weather outside is frightful, being stuck indoors can be delightful — if you embrace the time as an opportunity to engage in some fun family activities that benefit body and mind. Try these imaginative ideas for some healthy family time — they all draw on items you probably have around your home.

Create an obstacle course. Mollie Grow, MD, MPH, a general academic pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital at the University of Washington, says her young daughters, ages 1 and 3, love riding their tricycles and taking their push toys around the main floor of their home. “We also make an unobstructed running course in a carpeted room, with pillows for them to land on,” she says.
Strike up the band.

Cindy Roma, MEd, the director and head teacher at the Bally Community Preschool in Bally, Pa., suggests creating musical instruments from household items. “Use lids from pots and pans for cymbals, convert plastic containers into drums, or teach your child to play the spoons,” she says. Make this a healthy family activity by forming a parade. March fast and slow, with high knees and low knees, taking big steps and small steps.

Have a dance party. Kids who get a lot of exercise are healthy kids. When you’re stuck indoors, get your kids moving by having a dress-up and dance party, suggests Dr. Grow. “My young daughters love to dress up,” she says. “You can combine this with putting on fun dance music.

Take over the garage. If your kids need to let out some excess energy, head to the garage for a family activity that everyone can participate in. Design a “neighborhood” for your kids to ride their tricycles in, Roma says. Use sidewalk chalk to design a road. Draw stop signs, a parking lot, and a few buildings to make it more fun.

Create a “three hoop” circus. While you’re in the garage or basement, try mastering the hula hoop, or find other creative uses for it, Roma suggests. Place several hoops in a row. Children can jump or hop into each one. Or try using the hoop like a jump rope. Simply hold the hoop with two hands and step through it with both feet, then bring it above your head and down to your feet. Two children
can also use a hula hoop to play basketball. One child holds the hoop while the other throws a ball through it.

Make a video for a family member’s birthday. Help your kids direct and star in a video for a grandparent, favorite uncle, or family friend. “Practice singing a song and saying nice things to the person,” Grow suggests. Then post the video on YouTube or the recipient’s Facebook page.

Go bowling. Make your own bowling alley, Roma suggests. All you need is a cushy or inflatable ball, a hallway, and some empty plastic water bottles or milk cartons (any size and number will work). Arrange the containers in a line or triangle pattern at the far end of the hall. Stand at the opposite end, roll the ball, and see how many “pins” you can knock down. Make it educational by having your kids keep count, adding up how many pins everyone knocks down.

Get crafty. Designing a variety of thank-you and birthday cards is a great way to work on handwriting and spelling while having fun creating the cards. Set up a craft table with construction paper, markers, glitter, glue, and any other supplies you have on hand. “Each card is more personal, and each is a win for the family member or friend who receives it,” Grow says.

Healthy family activities like these don’t have to cost a dime — all you need is imagination to turn items already on hand into indoor adventures.

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10 Tips to become more active together as a family

Physical activity is important for children and adults of all ages. Being active as a family can benefit everyone. Adults need 2½ hours a week of physical activity, and children need 60 minutes a day. Follow these tips to add more activity to your family’s busy schedule.

  1. Set specific activity times. Determine time slots throughout the week when the whole family is available. Devote a few of these times to physical activity. Try doing something active after dinner or begin the weekend with a Saturday morning walk.
  2. Plan ahead and track your progress. Write your activity plans on a family calendar. Let the kids help in planning the activities. Allow them to check it off after completing each activity.
  3. Include work around the house Involve the kids in yard work and other active chores around the house. Have them help you with raking, weeding, planting, or vacuuming.
  4. Use what is available. Plan activities that require little or no equipment or facilities. Examples include walking, jogging, jumping rope, playing tag, and dancing. Find out what programs your community recreation center offers for free or minimal charge.
  5. Build new skills. Enroll the kids in classes they might enjoy such as gymnastics, dance, or tennis. Help them practice. This will keep things fun and interesting, and introduce new skills!
  6. Plan for all weather conditions. Choose some activities that do not depend on the weather conditions. Try mall walking, indoor swimming, or active video games. Enjoy outdoor activities as a bonus whenever the weather is nice.
  7. Turn off the TV. Set a rule that no one can spend longer than 2 hours per day playing video games, watching TV, and using the computer (except for school work). Instead of a TV show, play an active family game, dance to favorite music, or go for a walk.
  8. Start small. Begin by introducing one new family activity and add more when you feel everyone is ready. Take the dog for a longer walk, play another ball game, or go to an additional exercise class.
  9. Include other families. Invite others to join your family activities. This is a great way for you and your kids to spend time with friends while being physically active. Plan parties with active games such as bowling or an obstacle course, sign up for family programs at the YMCA, or join a recreational club.
  10. Treat the family with fun, physical activity. When it is time to celebrate as a family, do something active as a reward. Plan a trip to the zoo, park, or lake to treat the family.

This article is an excerpt from a download at

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When your children see you being physically active, there’s a good chance they will do the same.

Balancing your child’s school day, homework and other activities can be hectic, but making small changes this spring can lead to big rewards. Before you know it, your family will become a more active and healthier bunch.

Parents are role models for their children. When your children see you eating right and being physically active, there’s a good chance they’ll do the same. Living a healthier, more physically active lifestyle doesn’t require expensive sporting equipment or memberships. There are fun, creative ways to improve your family’s physical activity habits.

To start, monitor your family’s daily activities for one week. Identify times when your family could increase its physical activity. Each week, add more activity into your family’s routine.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Play a game of tag instead of watching television. Tag provides fun and physical activity. Children love
it—especially if they can chase their parents—and it increases everyone’s heart rate at the same time.

Start a family garden. Begin getting the soil ready to plant flowers and vegetables. If you have limited space, try growing herbs in pots. Homegrown vegetables and herbs are great money savers and ensure you’ll have something available for healthy summer meals and snacks. Fresh herbs are also a tasty alternative to salt when cooking.

Go old school. Help your children draw hopscotch or four square courts on the sidewalk. Sidewalk chalk is a colorful and inexpensive way for children to create their own activity space.

Plan a nature scavenger hunt. Pick up small nets and mason jars for kids to use to catch butterflies or interesting insects, and collect flowers in the neighborhood or at a local park.

Help your children organize a neighborhood softball or kickball game with their friends. Pitch in by planning healthy snacks and drinks to keep everyone energized during games.

Start with small steps to get your family to move more. Making little changes can help everyone maintain a healthy weight. For more tips on how to help your family live a healthier lifestyle, visit the We Can!

(Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition)® website:

Read this full article at:

The Y is a great place to spend quality time with your family. Here are some family programs we offer at the Y.

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1. I already have a will, so I’m set, right?

Not necessarily. Unlike antiques and wine, a will doesn’t improve with age. Many things in your life might have changed since you first created your will—a divorce or remarriage, a new child or grandchild, revised tax laws, a move to another state, valuable new assets or the addition of planned giving.

Your Attorney’s Role
An estate planning attorney can help you determine if it’s time to breathe new life into your outdated will and can make recommendations for updating it based on your current circumstances.

2. The internet can help me write my will for free. Why should I pay for the services of an estate planning attorney?

Do-it-yourself will kits may be widely available online, but there are no safeguards to ensure that they’re accurate and that the generated documents are implemented correctly. There’s more to writing a will than just filling in the blanks.

Your Attorney’s Role
A qualified estate planning attorney can help you protect your assets, minimize taxes and find the best ways to provide for your loved ones and the organizations that you support, such as The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA.

3. I just finished writing and updating my will. Planning done?

Not so fast. Your will doesn’t cover everything in your estate. The beneficiary designation forms for your retirement plan and life insurance policies dictate who will receive these assets. Keep your beneficiaries up to date so that your assets end up with your intended recipients.

Your Attorney’s Role
As part of the will planning process, your attorney will review these accounts to ensure that they coordinate with your overall plans.

4. The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA planned giving is important to me. How can I continue to support this work after my lifetime?

Including The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA in your plans is a thoughtful way to invest in the future of our mission. Planned giving is also your opportunity to give voice to the values you live your life by.

Your Attorney’s Role
There are many ways to remember The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA in your will or other financial plans. Your attorney can help you find the gift that best meets your family’s needs and charitable goals.

We’re Here to Help with Planned Giving

In addition to providing peace of mind, your will and other financial plans provide a flexible way to support a cause that’s close to your heart. To learn how you can give a gift that changes lives at our organization, contact Danny Carroll at 757.223.7925 ext 203 or

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Kids Home Alone? Follow these Safety Tips for After-School Safety

School bells are ringing in a new school year and across the country kids are returning to the classroom. For many of these kids, a return to school also means being home alone after school until their parents get home from work. Follow these tips for after-school safety.

If you have decided your child is responsible enough to stay home alone after school, we’ve offered some advice and tips below. Of course the Y offers both Before- and After-School child care options. We never want the cost of safety to prevent you making the safe choice for your child. If you can’t afford after school care, please ask us about the Guardian program.

The Y recommends parents and children make after-school hours safer and less stressful by following these steps.

Whether a child is going to stay home alone should depend on the child’s maturity and comfort level. A general rule of thumb is that no child less than eight years of age should be left alone for any extended period of time.

If the child is going to go home after school, it’s a good idea to have them call to check in when they get home. For an older child, set ground rules about whether other kids can come over when the parents are absent, whether cooking is an option, whether they can leave the home. Other steps parents can take include:

  • Post an emergency phone list where the children can see it. Include 9-1-1, the parents work and cell numbers, numbers for neighbors, and the numbers for anyone else who is close and trusted.
  • Practice an emergency plan with the child so they know what to do in case of fire, injury, or other emergencies. Write the plan down and make sure the child knows where it is.
  • Show children where the flashlights are. Make sure that the batteries are fresh, and that the child knows how to use them.
  • Remove or safely store in locked areas dangerous items like guns, knives, hand tools, power tools, razor blades, scissors, ammunition and other objects that can cause injury.
  • Make sure potential poisons like detergents, polishes, pesticides, care-care fluids, lighter fluid and lamp oils are stored in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children.
  • Make sure medicine is kept in a locked storage place or out of the reach of children.
    Install safety covers on all unused electrical outlets.
  • Limit any cooking a young child can do. Make sure at least one approved smoke alarm is installed and operating on each level of the home.
  • Limit the time the child spends in front of the television or computer. Caution them to not talk about being home alone on public web sites. Kids should be cautious about sharing information about their location when using chat rooms or posting on social networks.
  • Consider enrolling older children in a babysitting course so they can learn first aid skills and how to care for younger family members. Babysitting Basics is geared towards children aged 11-15 while Advanced Child Care Training is well-suited for those aged 16 and up.


When talking to kids about being at home alone, parents should stress the following steps and post them somewhere to remind the child about what they should, or shouldn’t, do until mom or dad get home:

  • Lock the doors and if the home has an electronic security system, children should learn how to turn it on and have it on when home alone.
  • Never open the door to strangers. Always check before opening the door to anyone, looking out through a peephole or window first.
  • Never open the door to delivery people or service representatives. Ask delivery people to leave the package at the door or tell them to come back at another time. Service representatives, such as a TV cable installer, should have an appointment when an adult is home.
  • Never tell someone on the telephone that the parents are not at home. Say something like “He or she is busy right now. Can I take a message?”
  • Do not talk about being home alone on social media web sites. Kids should be cautious about sharing information about their location when using chat rooms or posting on social networks.
  • Never leave the house without permission. If it’s okay to go outside, children should tell their parents where they are going, when they are leaving, and when they will return. If mom and dad are still at work, children should call them when they return home.
  • Do not go outside to check out an unusual noise. If the noise worries the child, they should call their parents, an adult, or the police.
  • Don’t talk to strangers.
  • Do not have friends over to visit when your parents aren’t at home unless you have permission to do so. Do not let anyone inside who is using drugs or alcohol, even if you know them.
  • If the child smells smoke or hears a fire or smoke alarm, they should get outside and ask a neighbor to call the fire department.

Some content provided in cooperation with the Red Cross.

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Poisonous materials come in all shapes and sizes. They may be beautiful, look like candy, or be odorless or tasteless. Children are curious; they like to explore. These ideas will help guide you to keeping children safe against accidental poisoning. Poison prevention begins at home.

Save the toll-free Poison Help number into your phone: 1-800-222-1222. The Poison Help line is not just for emergencies. You can call with questions about how to take or give medicine, concerns about plants, chemicals, carbon monoxide, bites, stings and more.

  1. Install safety locks or childproof latches on all cabinets to restrict access to children.
  2. Store potential poisons out of reach and out of sight of children — inside the house as well as in the garage or shed. In addition, lock them up.
  3. Do not transfer poisons to food containers and store them in different cabinets. Children can mistake the identity.
  4. Return all products to storage after use.
  5. Keep the products and children in sight during use.
  6. Safely discard potential poisons into a sealed, outdoor trash receptacle if not being used anymore.
  7. Never mix products; dangerous fumes could result.
  8. Stay away from areas that have been sprayed recently with pesticides or fertilizer.
  9. Keep indoor plants out of reach; some may be poisonous.
  10. Make sure medications are in child-resistant containers. Vitamins and supplements also should be out of reach.
  11. Be especially alert at grandma’s house. Older people with hand arthritis may get medication bottles that are not childproof. They’re also more likely to leave medicine out in the open.

Our friends at Tylenol provided this Medication Safety Checklist. It describes safe practices and when children can begin to be responsible for their own medication.

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Some children are friendly with everyone. Others seem to hesitate and shy away from new people. Regardless of your child’s personality, it is important for them to learn about stranger danger. Following are basic guidelines for talking with your child(ren). Think about creating a drill, like you would for fire safety, should your child ever be approached by someone who means them harm.

What the Experts recommend:

  1. Be extremely careful about who you teach your child is a “safe adult.” If you are unsure, stay with your child.
  2. Let them know who the trusted adults are in their lives. Remember, however, that many adults in trusted positions hurt children.
  3. Practice dangerous situations with your child and show them how to say no, run away, and how to make a bunch of noise if they are in an uncomfortable situation. Don’t assume once is enough, review regularly.
  4. Teach children what kind of touching is appropriate and inappropriate.
  5. Kids can and should always tell a safe adult if someone does something that hurts them or makes them feel uncomfortable.
  6. Teach children to always let a trusted adult know where they are going.
  7. Kids should play and travel in groups. Being alone makes them more susceptible to being hurt.
  8. Teach your kids that adults should ask for help or directions from adults, not children. Often abductors trick kids into going with them by offering candy, toys or baby animals.
  9. Teach your child to tell you right away if someone gives them a gift or extra attention.
  10. If an abductor is actually grabbing a child, they should fall on the ground, kick, scream, bite, and fight as hard as they can and make as much noise as they can.
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Our mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.