Young girl on low ropes being supported by her friends

At the YMCA, we’re driven by our vision of a healthier Canada, and we’re inspired by the achievements of the millions of people we support every year on their journey towards better health and wellness.

The social determinants of health, identified by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), show that being physically fit is only one part of having an active, healthy life.

There are a number of factors affecting the health of Canadians, ranging from your job, to where you live, to your networks, including income and social status; social support networks; education; employment/working conditions; social environments; physical environments; personal health practices and coping skills; healthy child development; gender; and culture.

That’s why we work hard every day to make a tangible difference in people’s lives and the communities they live in by addressing many of these issues. We offer programs and services to more than 2 million people every year, in over 1,700 locations.

Building a healthier Canada

We offer wrap around programs that help Canadians become more physically fit, better connected to their communities, and equipped with the skills needed to achieve success in work and life. By addressing the determinants of health listed below, we are playing an essential role in the building of a healthier Canada today and for generations to come.

Physical Fitness

For healthy growth and development, the Canadian Physical Activity, and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend that kids get 60 minutes of physical activity every day to improve their health, maintain a healthy body weight and feel happier. For adults, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of activity per week to keep your heart healthy.

How we get Canadians moving

  • Our more than 120 YMCA Health & Fitness centres across Canada help 1.2 million Canadians make physical activity a part of their regular routine.
  • Our Health and Fitness programs provide options for people of all ages and stages in their fitness routine, whether they are just beginning or already regularly active
  • We incorporate physical literacy and activity into our children and teen programs like camps and child care to help them build healthy habits that will serve them well for a lifetime.

Social Support Networks

“Everyday interactions we have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness.” - Nicholas A. Christakis, author of Connected

Feeling like you belong to something bigger than yourself has a positive impact on your health. Unfortunately, 1/3 of Canadians report not having a sense of community. Our research has shown that there are many positive effects of belonging to the YMCA - people tell us they feel less alone, find it easier to make friends, and have better health.

How we bring people together

  • Our nearly 50,000 staff and volunteers make the Y a welcoming place where people feel a sense of belonging.
  • We offer opportunities for people to become more deeply involved with each other, the YMCA and their community through programs and volunteer opportunities.
  • Our programs bring people together who may not otherwise have met. Whether it’s a new friend a child makes at camp or two people who always take the same fitness class, the connections people make at the YMCA every day reduce social isolation

Healthy Child Development

Research has shown that the growth and development of a child during the first six years of their life has more influence on their learning, behaviour and health into adulthood than at any other time. As children continue to grow, the physical, emotional and social skills they develop will impact their future success.

How we support healthy children

  • We developed our very own YMCA Playing to Learn™ and YMCA A Place to Connect™ curriculums for our child care programs to help kids develop the skills and competencies they need to thrive. Experts say that playful learning not only promotes important academic learning but also builds the skills required for success in the 21st century.
  • Our children and youth programs are developed within our YMCA Healthy Child Development research-based framework, fostering their growth and development as engaged young adults
  • Our child care, health and fitness, aquatics and camp programs keep kids engaged in healthy activities year-round 
  • Many YMCAs offer Child and Family Development programs that provide parents with programming and resources to nurture their children through the first six years of life

Skills Development, Education and Learning Opportunities

Providing opportunities for personal growth and development is at the heart of what we do. Participating in education and learning opportunities pays off in higher salaries and reduces the risk of experiencing unemployment.

How we build strong foundations for future success

  • YMCA Employment Services respond to the needs of unemployed and underemployed Canadians, especially youth, by providing much needed employment programs to address some of the barriers in entering the labour market. With supports like these, the International Labour Organization says that youth who are looking for their first jobs are better prepared for a smooth transition between school and the working world.
  • The YMCA Alternative Suspension program offers young people an opportunity to turn their suspension into a positive experience that prepares for their eventual reintegration into social and academic life.
  • YMCA Beyond the Bell is a successful after-school and summer program, featuring literacy, numeracy, nutrition and recreation that focuses on closing the academic achievement gap for children in grades 1 to 5. Experts note that when youth are involved in well-run, quality after-school programs, they can increase their social competence, academic performance and civic engagement.
  • Programs like the YMCA Academy in Toronto offer a special education experience designed to support students who learn differently with a personal differentiated approach, specialized programs, and individualized use of assistive technology.

Learn more about how the YMCA is making a difference

  • Two young girls outdoors in spring posing for the camera
    Success Stories

    See the stories of people who have made positive changes in their lives through their involvement with the YMCA.

  • Boys playing floor hockey in a YMCA after school program
    What We Offer

    Our diverse programs support people of all ages and stages on their journey to better health in spirit, mind and body.