May 2017

From the Director: It’s Pool Time!

     As the mercury climbs, one sure way to beat the heat – while staying active and having fun – is to enjoy pool time. This summer, all three branch pools will be open for a range of activities, and we will again manage the Hunter Pool and the Roger Scott Pool for the city of Pensacola.

     The Pullum Branch pool opens Monday, May 1. The Northeast Branch and both city pools will open Saturday, May 27. These join the Bear Levin Studer Branch pool, which is open year round.

     We will offer ample time for lap swimming and recreational swim available at all pools. When program activities such as swim lessons or water fitness are scheduled, they will take priority.

     All locations will offer the new Y-USA swim lesson curriculum, a thoughtful, research-based curriculum that offers participants of all abilities the opportunity for appropriate skill progressions. The curriculum is designed with the first stages focusing on safety in the water and swim readiness, then moving into stroke development. The approach maintains the same focus on positively impacting students’ well-being by fostering achievement, relationships, and belonging. We offer swim lessons for all ages at various locations. Dates and times of sessions vary.

Regional members will have access to all three of our branch pools through their membership. Members who would like to visit the Roger Scott and/or Hunter Pools will be required to pay the same rates as other city and non-city residents.

Learn more about:

YMCA pools

Hunter and Roger Scott pools

Swim lessons

By Andrea Rosenbaum, Director of Advancement

Member Spotlight: -Bear Levin Studer Branch

Jonathan Stone has been a member of the YMCA of Northwest Florida since 2010 as part of his family’s membership.  Jonathan liked playing pick-up basketball at the former Downtown Y. Now he is enjoying weight training as well.  With the positive energy and increased membership at the Bear Levin Studer Family YMCA, Jonathan has the opportunity to spend time with a variety of friends playing basketball, ping pong, air hockey, and meeting other members while working out.          

          In December 2016, Jonathan was playing basketball in the Bubba Watson Foundation Basketball Courts when he landed awkwardly after jumping for a rebound, causing an injury to his knee. The prognosis was not encouraging, requiring surgery, potentially cancelling Jonathan’s summer plans. Before his surgery, Jonathan came to the Y as part of his pre-hab plan in order to be more prepared for his rehab post-surgery. He logged many sessions on the UBE, and continued to perform the exercises he could perform safely, all while his friends encouraged him.

          Jonathan’s surgery to repair the damaged ligament in his knee was successful. After the surgery, he chose to have physical therapy at the Andrews Institute, inside the Bear Levin Studer Family YMCA, allowing him to remain active with the Y while carrying out his rehabilitation. The outcomes from his procedure and rehabilitation have been fantastic, allowing Jonathan to make plans for this summer.  He will be traveling to Big Sky, Wyoming, to work at a ski resort, something he never thought was possible after a required knee surgery. Jonathan shared: “There are so many people I have met that have experienced the same knee injury I had, and it was pretty neat seeing that I had something in common with them."

          Jonathan feels like the Bear Levin Studer Family YMCA is really a big family, with someone always around to speak with, or work out with. There is someone new to meet in the Y on a regular basis. The inclusive environment, variety of exercise activities, and learning about other members through the digital display boards are all some of the reasons he chooses to make his way to the Y each day, instead of heading to the beach.

By Bill Seedes, Executive Director, Bear Levin Studer Branch

Program Corner: Reach and Rise

          Did you know that the Northeast YMCA facilitates a mentoring program called Reach and Rise? Reach & Rise® is a national YMCA mentoring program designed to build a better future for youth by helping them reach their full potential through the support of caring adults. Volunteer mentors are matched with a young person for one year to provide one-to-one mentoring services and create safe, healthy and meaningful relationships with youth.  

          One of the participants, 17-year-old Joseph Penullar, Jr., recently immigrated to the United States with his father, leaving behind his mother, brother, and three sisters living in a one-bedroom home in the Philippines. Joseph resides with his father, an aunt and uncle and two foster cousins in Pensacola. Joseph shared that he enjoys riding bikes, playing basketball, hanging out with friends, and playing computer games (especially NBA games). He has future plans to complete high school, work, and go to college.Joseph

          Joseph’s aunt referred him to the Reach and Rise program so that he could receive a mentorship to aide him in a successful transition into life in the United States (which he is very excited about), receive assistance with English, and learn the culture of the United States. Joseph is a smart young man, based upon report cards for his 9th and 10th grade school year in the Philippines. He has good manners and the determination to learn about the culture of the United States and develop the life skills and education to have a successful experience in the United States.

          Joseph was matched with mentor Kirwan in the Reach and Rise program in November 2016. Together they enjoy riding bikes, playing basketball and experiencing new things. Joseph enjoys being able to ask Kirwan questions about American culture and what is expected of him as a young adult living in America.

          Recently Nathan Lee, Membership Director and Kimi Lirette, Director of Reach and Rise, learned from Joseph that he was interested in Karate. The team was able to give Joseph the opportunity to participate in Karate classes at the Northeast Y. He has enjoyed the classes immensely and it has given him an added sense of confidence and joy that is evident in his huge smile. He is enormously gracious and appreciative of the opportunity to attend these classes.

          We are proud to serve our community through the Reach and Rise program. We invite you to sign up to become a mentor and make a difference in the life of our youth.

Learn more

By Kimi Lirette, Director, Reach and Rise, and Nathan Lee, Membership Director, Northeast Branch


Exercising Together: New Group Fitness Classes at the Pullum Branch

exercising together           With summer just around the corner, everyone is busy wrapping up the school year and end-of-school year activities. The Pullum Family YMCA has taken your busy schedule into consideration when creating our new Group Fitness schedule for this quarter.

          We are introducing several 30-minute workout classes for those of you who are trying to get the most bang for your buck with the time you have to spend exercising. We also have paired some of our higher impact classes using a 30-minute format of high impact followed by 30 minutes of a Pilates/yoga workout. We offer these classes during our morning and evening time slots to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in their favorite class. So whether you are a parent of school-aged children or a career go-getter, you will be able to fit a great workout into your busy schedule. Some examples of the 30-minute pairings are Spinning followed by Awesome Arms & Abs class; Tabata class followed Pilates/yoga; Insanity class followed by yoga; and Circuit Training followed by Zumba.

          With such a variety of classes, you will never get bored with your workout!  For more information or to see a class schedule, stop by or call the Welcome Center at the Pullum YMCA.

By Christine McLeod, Program/Wellness Director, Betty J. Pullum Branch


Health Focus: May is Older Americans Month  

          May is Older Americans Month, and the YMCA of Northwest Florida encourages all adults 50 years and older to get motivated and develop behaviors that are crucial to healthy aging, including healthy eating, increasing physical activity and social interaction. 

          Adults 50 years and older currently make up more than 30 percent of the U.S. population, and will soon represent 45 percent of all Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that adults 50 and older have a 70 percent chance of developing at least one chronic disease. While these numbers seem daunting, the good news is that making small lifestyle changes that include increasing physical activity, eating healthier and staying active socially can help older adults live better.

          The image of an older adult sitting on the porch in a rocking chair is long gone. Today’s older adult is more active, engaged and in control of their health. Community-based organizations like the Y provide the needed guidance to help them reach health goals, particularly when it comes to chronic disease prevention.

Additionally, the Y offers the following tips on how to jump-start your healthy-living routine:

1.   Have fun with your food. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring! Have fun with your fruits and vegetables by trying them fresh or frozen. Find a new recipe that uses a different source of protein or find a way to incorporate fish or beans into an old favorite. Remember as you age, it’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean meats to help your body get the necessary nutrients.
2.   Fill up on fiber and potassium, hold the salt. As you age, your body needs more fiber rich foods to help it stay regular. Aim for a variety of colorful foods on your plate (i.e. fruits and veggies) to keep fiber rich foods a part of your diet. Additionally, increasing potassium along with reducing sodium or salt may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium.  
3.   Get active. Physical activity is safe for almost everyone, and the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things older adults can do for their health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age (such as osteoporosis and arthritis) and reduce the risk for developing, or help manage, depression, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain kinds of cancers. For older adults who have chronic conditions that hinder their ability to be active on a regular basis, some physical activity is better than none, and older adults who participant in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.  
4.   Tweak your routine. To get the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity, change your routine to 10-minute sessions throughout the day. For example, stand on one foot while brushing your teeth to increase balance, and do squats while washing dishes to increase strength. Make sure you can grab hold of something to maintain balance—safety first! To increase your cardio, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther from the entrance to work. When sitting in front of the TV, march during commercials or do some light stretching to break up sitting for long periods.
5.   Get social. Socialization is an important part of aging. As we get older, it’s important to be active socially to stay healthy. Take a walk with a friend or a neighbor, join a book club or volunteer at your local pet shelter or local Y. Social interaction provides meaningful engagement, builds relationships, enhances a sense of belonging and provides opportunities for involvement—all resulting in greater bonds and a stronger sense of community. Being connected to the community keeps you healthy!

If you are an active older adult, or know someone who is, we invite you to get eat healthy and get active and social at the Bear Levin Studer Family Branch in Pensacola or the Pullum Family Branch in Navarre.

Learn more, or contact

Chris Parker at Bear Levin Studer, or Christine McLeod at Pullum

By Libby Sandberg, Development and Marketing Assistant


Staff Member Spotlight: Lauren Brown and Cassie Smith, Betty J. Pullum Branch

Lauren and CassieWhat is your role at the Y? – Lauren and Cassie both work at the Welcome Center, providing outstanding membership services.

What do you love about your job at the Y? – Enjoy talking to all the members and making lasting friendships. Seeing members make their transformations and hearing about their journeys. So many people change their lives within this building.  There is a true social aspect to the Y and we get to be a big part of that. We get the chance to talk to every member that walks in the door.

If you could have any super power what would you want it to be? - Lauren would want to have the power to teleport so she could travel anywhere. Cassie would want to fly so she could travel by the scenic route.

What tip would you give members trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle? -  Make sure you try new things! You may never know what you could fall in love with or what friends you can make by trying something new. Cassie reminds all members to stay hydrated!

Why do you  enjoy volunteering? -Cassie and Lauren both go above and beyond their job requirements and live by the Y example. They put in the extra effort and hours helping to run our Annual Campaign. Without our Annual Campaign, our Y could not help the community like we do. Lauren and Cassie play a very important role in our success!

By Katie Milton, Membership Director, Betty J. Pullum branch