Through its partnership with the YMCA of the USA, the Livestrong Foundation is helping to improve the lives of countless cancer survivors across the country. The collaboration has thus far served nearly 80,000 people at 791 YMCA locations across 400 communities.
One of these locations seeing the benefits of the partnership is the Greater Philadelphia YMCA. There, Melissa Gyuraki, the wellness director at the Northeast Family Branch, said they have seen interest in the program continue to grow.
“It’s a research-based physical activity and well-being initiative designed to help adult cancer survivors reclaim their health,” said Gyuraki. “We have connected with cancer care professionals in our community to both spread the word about the program to their patients and collaborate in serving them. We realize the need our community has for a program for cancer survivors.”
Livestrong at the Y Details
The following characteristics makeup the regime and routine of Livestrong at the Y:
- 12-week program with two 90-minute sessions per week.
- Small group, supportive environment.
- Includes cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, balance and flexibility exercises.
- Evaluation includes fitness and quality of life assessments before and after participation.
- Facilitated by YMCA-certified instructors.
- Requires referral and medical clearance from a physician.
Gyuraki said having staff in the program trained to work safely in helping survivors regain their strength is beneficial. Because of this, participants can feel more confident in joining the YMCA. The offering is open to adults 18 years or older who are members and to non-members at no cost.
“We have all been impacted by a cancer diagnosis in some way,” said Gyuraki. “Livestrong at the Y focuses on the whole person and not the disease. It’s helping people move beyond cancer in mind, body and spirit. Every participant, when asked what they are expecting to gain from the program answers, ‘my strength.’ We are glad to help them.”
Benefits and Community Fundraisers
Another way for rec centers to get involved with Livestrong is by hosting a Community Fundraiser. These events can follow any structure and are open to anyone who wants to join the fight against cancer. They directly benefit the Livestrong Foundation’s programs and services and there is no minimum goal to meet. While the organization does not pay for the cost, Livestrong does provide advice, help and fundraising assistance prior to the event.
Through partnering with Livestrong, Gyuraki said she has seen noticeable benefits for both the Y and members. “Programs like this have a life-changing effect on our staff,” she said. “Their morale is boosted, and they feel good about coming to work knowing they are helping others. When members find out about the services we offer, such as Livestrong at the Y, it helps them feel like they are a part of a community that cares for and supports one another through healthy living, regardless of their circumstances.”
Gyuraki advised for all rec centers to create partnerships and collaborations with organizations in their local communities and beyond. “It allows us to broaden the impact that we can have on our community,” she said. “Each comes with their own knowledge and resources. There is only so much we can do alone, but together, we are better. With our partners, the Northeast Y has been able to reach a larger number of cancer survivors and provide them with services such as nutritional advice, mental health support and financial assistance.”
Want more resources like this sent straight to your inbox each week? Sign up for a digital subscription here.