So you’re new to town? Meet me at the Y! The YMCA is all about community and it is a good place to start your exploration of Northfield. From its humble London origins in the early 1800s to its sleek and modern centers around the world today, the Y continues to reach out to all who come their way as a refuge for help, support, and life enrichment. It has more to offer than swim lessons. Let’s take a look.
Located on Highway 3, it is easily accessible from Northfield, Dundas, and neighboring communities. It opens weekdays at 5am for early bird lap swimmers, walkers or runners on their second floor track, and Wellness Center exercisers, and stays open evenings for after work work-outs or special evening programming. The Y was founded to provide fun and healthy sport activities like basketball, soccer, volleyball, and swimming. They have added a variety of age-appropriate activities for wee ones and preschoolers through grade 12, special needs kids, children in licensed day care, and adults. Classes to help lose weight and training in personal nutrition are available as well as group and aqua exercise classes, high energy Warrior Workouts and balance affirming yoga. Look up what’s new for the season in their online program brochure. YMCAs are also known for their camping programs designed to build character as well as introducing children of all ages to the wonders and fun of the outdoors, training teens to be camp counselors (CIT), and providing outdoor adventures for families and singles.
Special programs for special people reach out to the community to help everyone learn, live, and practice neighborliness. Many Ys in Minnesota offer cross-cultural programs and integration services at New American Welcome Centers, following in the footsteps of the first ESL class offered in the US at a YMCA in 1856. Minnesota Ys currently support Hmong, Somali, and Latino immigrants through their language, leadership, and job classes. The Y engages initiatives such as those that support Military families, scholarships for those who may not be able to afford a membership, public policy issues that promote safe communities, and teach and train youth in outdoor conservation skills.
Volunteering and community collaborations are also important parts of the mission of every YMCA. The YMCA has worked with one local school to provide physical education activities for students and a basketball league for all students who wanted to participate at another. They partnered with organizations to provide physical activities for kids and families with disabilities and with sport alliances to provide soccer and volleyball instruction to local children. Some partners team up to provide fresh food and on-site farm experiences such as the SEEDS Farm Experiential CSA while Just Food Co-op collaborated to manage the Ron Griffith Young Leaders Fund. Local churches, the National Guard Armory, and The Northfield Retirement Community all provided spaces for classes and programs. And the list goes on.
Working with the community for the betterment of the community—that’s the YMCA. How can you help? Join. Become a member. Memberships have perks, like free or reduced fees for programs, limited or free access to Ys in the state and across the country, a fun place to make friends and to help each other in their pursuit of good health. Volunteer in a class, at an event or in a program. Give to fund a scholarship. Like them on Facebook. Invite someone new to your neighborhood or town to join you for the day to take a walk, a run, or a class at the Y and introduce them to your community.
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