The partnerships that the Ocean County YMCA has forged with 14 local organizations, including United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, has enabled hundreds of individuals to have access to services that keep them both physically and mentally fit. One of the many ways in which the YMCA does this is by collaborating with several organizations to provide free services to special populations through the Healthy Living Initiative, a program made possible in part due to funding from United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
One component of the Healthy Living Initiative is Swim Inc., a weekly aqua exercise program that provides a safe and supportive environment for adults with impaired mobility. The YMCA partners with several organizations, such as the MS Society, Arthritis Society and stroke clubs, to refer their clientele to the program. People from all walks of life come together for an hour of supervised swim in the YMCA’s six-lane pool, followed by a social hour with refreshments. The social hour is an opportunity for participants to interact with others who can identify with their experiences, something they often aren’t able to do.
“It really makes a difference for them,” says a volunteer named Maryann whose son has severe arthritis and is enrolled in the Swim Inc. program. “Most people with disabilities can move around in the water in ways they can’t on land.”
The Healthy Living Initiative also provides free memberships to at-risk families identified by partner organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and Ocean Partnership for Children. These families receive full access to the YMCA’s facilities and are able to maintain their health and have family bonding time.
The Ocean County YMCA’s mission is to build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all, and the Healthy Living Initiative certainly accomplishes that goal.