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The Y is arming community members with cutting-edge technology to help them reach their goals this New Year. The Tampa YMCA now offers Accurofit Heart Rate Monitors at select branches. “Members have the opportunity to purchase the heart rate strap and when they walk into a group exercise or spin class, it will activate their heart rates and their names will pop up on a TV screen,” describes Bob Sierra Family YMCA Membership & Wellness Director Jenny Beadle. “You’ll be able to see your current heart rate, maximum heart rate and how many calories you’re burning as you are working out.”

The Accurofit Heart Rate Monitors also measure your intensity level and are compatible with most Apple, Android and Windows devices. This new feature is currently available at the Bob Sierra, Downtown and Northwest Ys. Members can use it inside and outside the Y on their own time. “Everything is working great,” shares District Wellness Director Joshua Cross. “Members seem to love it.”

The Accurofit Heart Rate Monitor is just another way the Tampa Y is working hard to provide the right equipment, programs and people to help you reach your goals for the New Year. Click here to learn how you can start 2016 on the right track to a new, more powerful you!

 


Pictured above: A Downtown Y group exercise class using Accurofit Heart Rate Monitors to track and document their fitness stats.

 

Nearly 150 kids in the Sulphur Springs Y Success Afterschool program are sporting new kicks for the New Year. Regions Bank donated the new shoes before the holidays. “Our kids walk to and from school every day, so shoes are so important. And this is such a great addition for them,” says Sulphur Springs Y Director of Operations Lakema Massey.

The students are enrolled in the Y’s Community Learning Center, which provides year-round enhancement and support inside Sulphur Springs K-8 Community School. “The school emphasizes the culture and discipline during the day and we emphasize it at night,” says Tampa Y President & CEO Tom Looby.

Y Success Afterschool keeps kids active and challenged with programs like computer coding, cheerleading and running. The day includes a snack and hot dinner – a big plus for working parents trying to stretch every dollar. “This is not babysitting,” says Lakema. “We keep the kids engaged every minute of the day.”

It costs the Y more than $3,000 per student to run the afterschool program annually, yet families only pay $35 per child, which covers all activities including field trips and meals. To subsidize the rest, the Y looks to community and corporate support from partners like Regions.

Regions East Regional President Brett Couch formerly served as Governance Board Chair for the Tampa Y. “The Y makes families strong, kids strong and communities strong,” says Brett. “The best way to eradicate poverty is through education. When children and their parents are engaged in school, this becomes its own education ecosystem. All parts must work together to make it happen.”

Regions Community Affairs Manager David Christian also volunteers on the Y’s Governance Board. “These kids represent our future. I remember growing up as a kid, wondering how my life would turn out. I learned that it’s important to have an anchor, and that’s what the Y provides,” says David. In addition to financial support, Regions associates teach financial education classes for students and parents.

“Because schools are graded, programs likes Regions financial education and YMCA enrichment build the whole child and impact everyone,” says School Principal Julie Scardino. “We have a lot of working families. In fact, some of these parents are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. There are a lot of hardships, and some of the students need help with things from school supplies to clothes. Our partnerships with Regions and the YMCA can best help them meet their needs.”

To witness more ways we’re making an impact in Sulphur Springs, click here.

 


Pictured above: Click on the video above to see how the Y, Sulphur Springs K-8 Community School and Regions Bank are working together to challenge students to succeed.

 

The East Pasco Family YMCA worked to make the holiday brighter for families in Lacoochee, where more than half of residents live in poverty and about 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Last month, the East Pasco Y identified five families in need from the poverty-stricken community. Staff and volunteers designed a Christmas tree at the branch with 88 ornaments on it. “Each ornament had a tag on it for an article of clothing - whether it be boys’ shoes or women’s pants,” explains Program Director Tom Filgate. “Members, staff and visitors took an ornament from the tree and bought that article of clothing and then returned it unwrapped to the Y.”

At the branch’s Breakfast with Santa event on December 19th, the five Lacoochee families were presented with their gifts as they enjoyed their complimentary breakfast with St. Nick. Thanks to all the donors for bringing joy to these deserving families! 

 


Pictured above: Five deserving families were invited to enjoy free breakfast and gifts from Santa last month at the East Pasco Y.

 

More kids are learning and moving at the Bob Gilbertson Central City Family YMCA. The new Youth Zone now offers continued learning opportunities for children, ages 7-13. Thanks to a generous $40,000 gift from JPMorgan Chase & Co., the new Youth Zone provides adult supervision while kids engage in age-appropriate programming to boost their creativity and confidence. Along the way, they’re learning computer, teamwork and relationship-building skills.

During an unveiling ceremony on December 2nd, guests got an up-close look at the new state-of-the-art equipment including four computer stations with Wi-Fi access; new tablets; active video gaming systems; foosball, Pop-A-Shot basketball, air hockey/table tennis convertible table and board games. With these new tools, the Youth Zone will increase the Y efforts to prevent childhood obesity and close the academic achievement gap between lower-income children and their middle- to upper-income peers.

“We sincerely thank JPMorgan Chase & Co. Without you, this would not be possible,” said Central City Y Executive Director Mike McCollum at the unveiling. “We are going to do right by this room and create a safe and fun place for kids to express themselves and reach their goals.” The Youth Zone is open Monday – Friday from 4:30-8:00 p.m., with additional hours during the summer months. Click here to see more pictures of the new Youth Zone at the Central City Y.

 


Pictured above: Central City Y Success Afterschool kids with (back L to R) Central City Y Executive Director Mike McCollum, Tampa Y Governance Board Member & JPMorgan Chase Business Banking Market Manager Paul Ponzica and Tampa Y CEO Tom Looby.

Thousands of passionate community members set their alarm clocks early to support the Tampa YMCA this past Thanksgiving. Our association hosted three different runs that holiday morning, including the Goody Goody™ Turkey Gobble 5K. A total of 2,200 community members participated in the 5K and one mile walk/run in downtown Tampa. Several festive runners came out in creative turkey, pilgrim and Native American costumes.

“I love Thanksgiving races. I love the YMCA. I’ve been a member since 1979. I don’t think there’s a prettier run on Thanksgiving Day than this one in Tampa,” says Richard Gonzmart, fourth generation co-owner and president of the Columbia Restaurant Group, which owns the Goody Goody™ restaurant. On top of serving as title sponsor, Goody Goody™ also graciously provided free hot breakfast to all participants at the Amalie Arena.

The Goody Goody™ Turkey Gobble 5K raised a total of $20,000 to support the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program for cancer survivors and their families. The free 12-week program offers people affected by cancer a safe, supportive environment to participate in physical and social activities focused on strengthening the whole person. It’s a cause that hits close to home for Richard - a prostate cancer survivor. “We want to give hope to the people in the LIVESTRONG program; to help them understand they’re not alone,” says Richard. “We’re here to help them in this journey and they, too, can overcome it. I did.”

Thank you to Goody Goody™, Rocke McLean Sbar, The Tampa Tribune, Cox Media Group and Reeves Import Motorcars/VW for sponsoring the 5K. Click here to see all the Goody Goody™ Turkey Gobble pictures.

Further north, the third annual Wiregrass Wobble Turkey Trot in Wesley Chapel brought in about $10,000 in donations to the New Tampa Family YMCA. And, the Plant City Family YMCA welcomed 150 runners at their Turkey Trot 5K, raising more than $1,100. Many thanks to all of the Y’s sponsors, volunteers, staff and participants for helping make each Y run successful. 

 


Pictured above: L to R: Goody Goody Owner Richard Gonzmart, 1st Place Finisher Quasan Markowski, Tampa Y CEO Tom Looby, Tampa Y Executive Director Tony Kimbrough and WDUV Radio Host Ann Kelly.

Last month, more than 250 teens from across the state shined in the heart of Tampa Bay. The Tampa YMCA Teen Leaders hosted the "Teen Leaders Urban Rally” in downtown Tampa. Under a “Let it Shine” theme, teens from all over Florida had the opportunity to attend various classes and clinics throughout the weekend, discovering what makes them unique. “It was an incredible experience,” recalls Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA Associate Executive Director Marilyn Gyselinck. “The teens learned what makes them unique and special are the gifts they have to offer the world; and not to feel different or unaccepted.”

All in all, the young leaders learned a great deal about self-confidence, teamwork and healthy living habits, while visiting cool venues such as the Tampa Theatre, Tampa Prep and the University of Tampa. They also participated in an Urban Race together.

19-year-old Whitney Everette has been involved with Teen Leaders for five years, attending ten different rallies. This was the first time she got to help plan the rally as a graduate of the program. “We’re learning things that you can’t learn in school…things like character value,” shares Whitney. Click here to watch a neat video showcasing the rally’s impact on our Teen Leaders.

 


Pictured above: The Teen Leaders Urban Rally, hosted by Tampa Y teens, impacted hundreds of young leaders in Downtown Tampa. 
 

 

Six very talented young boys who grew up playing basketball at the New Tampa Family YMCA are getting national recognition. The boys played together at the Y since the age of 3, with three of their fathers serving as volunteer basketball coaches. After years of practicing and competing together at the Y, they started competing around the state and country as the “Bay Believers” team.

This past summer, the “Bay Believers” won the National AAU Championship for boys ages 10 and under at Walt Disney World. Senior Pastor and Basketball Skills Coach R. Lockett, Jr. says it all started at the New Tampa Y, where his family has been members for more than six years. “We’re always there,” claims R. Lockett. “They didn’t know basketball until they knew the Y.” His son is one of the top players of the team, earning an AAU Top 100 nomination for his age group. The proud papa says Y basketball builds his son’s confidence and strengthens their relationship. “When I found a sport he likes, where he listens and reveres his dad…I wasn’t going to let that go,” says R. Lockett.

The team does more than shoot hoops together. They perform various community service projects, like volunteering in nursing homes and feeding the homeless. “They understand that many kids do not have the opportunities that they do have,” shares R. Lockett. The Y wishes the Bay Believers good luck as they continue their quest to defend their 2015 AAU 10U International Basketball Championship title this season. 

 


Pictured above: Top L to R teammates: Jack Valenzuela, Nehemiah Turner, Richard Lockett, III, Christian Cole Top L to R coaches: Asst. Coach Robert Davis, Asst. Coach Clifton Scott, Head Coach R. Lockett, Jr. Bottom L to R: Derajah Hardy, Sean Scott, Rolijah Hardy (Championship MVP), Christian Devore, Kevin Knuggs, Josh Devore, Raleigh Lockett
 

 

 

 
 

The Tampa Y is now able to leverage technology to help us do our life-changing work more efficiently, effectively and innovatively... thanks to a generous $250,000 in-kind technology grant. During a Nov. 5th grand opening celebration of Microsoft at International Plaza and Bay Street, Microsoft donated more than $1 million in software grants to the Tampa Y and five other local nonprofits.

“Microsoft is extremely proud to strengthen our ties to the Tampa area and give back,” said Greg Johnson, General Manager of Microsoft Retail Stores, at the grand opening celebration. “The organizations that we are granting to today offer educational opportunities, foster creativity and provide mentoring services to the youth in our community so we’re so excited to do this today.”

The other deserving local nonprofits to receive a technology grant include The Florida Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), MacDonald Training Center, Girl Scouts of West Central Florida and Glazer’s Children Museum. Thank you to our friends at Microsoft! The Tampa Y is honored to be selected to receive affordable access to the technology needed to support our work strengthening communities.

 


Pictured above: Tampa YMCA Governance Board Chair Michelle Maingot and Tampa YMCA CEO Tom Looby (in middle with $250,000 in-kind Microsoft check) joined by Y Teen Achievers and Y staff. 
 

 

 

 
 
 

With diabetes in her family, Anita Smith knew the dangers of the chronic disease and her potential risk. But it did not really hit her until her last workplace health assessment. “I found out I was obese and bigger than I have ever been,” recalls Anita. “I was becoming so unhealthy; I was starting to have layers of problems. Doctors told me I was going to have to go on blood pressure medication. It’s pretty scary.”

With that wake-up call, Anita joined the Y Diabetes Prevention Program (YDPP) at the Bob Gilbertson Central City YMCA. “I learned how to change my habits. It is possible. You just have to do it the right way with your brain,” says Anita. “Once it’s been changed a few times, then the craving to do it the old way is gone. That makes everything about losing weight and staying healthy easier.”

Six months later, Anita looks and feels better than ever. “I have energy now. It’s easier to move around.” Anita also happens to be a dress size smaller and more than 25 pounds lighter. “That’s like five bags of sugar,” jokes Anita. “I’m losing about a pound a week.”

In addition to the physical benefits, Anita also appreciates YDPP’s supportive environment. “The best part is the group support. Sometimes we bring in a favorite recipe. Other times, we talk about what was difficult that week and what to do differently,” shares Anita. “The coach is real good about following up and seeing if you need anything. They’re there for you.”

Anita is so happy with her results, she’s spreading the word. “People have been commenting, ‘Oh my gosh, you look so good! What have you been doing?’ So, I send them this way.” The whole experience has Anita making big plans for her future. “I feel so good. I’m getting older and I want to feel as good as I can for as long as I can,” testifies Anita. “Instead of spiraling downward in my health, I want to be able to go the other direction. I want my body to be able to work at its optimum.”

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month…a good time to ask about YDPP, offered at 12 Tampa YMCA branches; as well as several community centers, corporate sites, and senior centers. Click here to learn more about YDPP or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 


Pictured above: Anita Smith is reversing her diabetes risk thanks to the Y Diabetes Prevention Program.

 

 
 

After a successful inaugural summer camp season, phase one of The Family Y at Big Bend Road was dedicated on October 12th. Nearly 150 guests came together to dedicate the outdoor amenities of The Family Y at Big Bend Road in Gibsonton. Special dignitaries were in attendance including Hillsborough County Commissioners Sandra Murman and Ken Hagan.

“For too long South County has been an underserved part of our community and the Board of County Commissioners has been working very hard to change that,” said Commissioner Hagan during the dedication ceremony. “But in order to reach our goals, partnerships are critically important and there’s no better partnership than the one that Hillsborough County enjoys with the YMCA.”

The special event took place during The Family Y at Big Bend Road’s inaugural youth sports season. More than 140 kids are currently playing basketball in the Dan and Sharon Campo Airnasium and soccer on five athletic fields, including the Tony and Debbie DiMare and Family Athletic Field. These young athletes are learning new skills, sportsmanship and teamwork while boosting their self-esteem, making new friends and having fun!

Further, children and teens gather in the Dan and Sharon Campo Pavilion to learn values and positive behaviors. They explore their unique talents and interests, helping them realize their full potential. Likewise, kids, teens and adults stay fit by running along the Robert and Jennifer Murphy Fitness Trail. Together as a family and community, SouthShore residents are reaching their healthy living goals, fighting obesity and preventing chronic disease at The Family Y at Big Bend Road.

“There isn’t a day that you don’t pick up the newspaper and something negative is going on but the Y is doing so much positive,” shared Commissioner Murman during the ribbon-cutting. “This gives children and families a place to go. And if they can’t afford to pay, it doesn’t matter. The Y will welcome them with open arms.”

Thanks to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for making the first phase of The Family Y at Big Bend Road possible. The next phases include an aquatic center and a 30,000-square-foot family facility. If you are interested in learning how you can contribute to the campaign, contact Chief Development Officer Jan Berry at 813.224.9622 ext. 1268 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Click here to view all the photographs from the Dedication Ceremony.

 


Pictured above: Hillsborough County, Tampa YMCA and local Chambers of Commerce leadership cutting the ribbon at the Oct. 12 dedication ceremony.

 
 
 
 
 
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