Acting FAST to Make a Difference

When medical emergencies happen at the Y, there is a team of staff that show up to support the member or guest. More than a dozen of our staff are Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) trained and all of our Aquatics, Wellness and Manager on Duty staff have CPR and First Aid certifications.

In late June, our staff was put to the test. Christine is a long time member of the Y. She started doing our new Strength and Balance class earlier this spring lead by one of our Personal Trainers, Jody Arndt. After class Jody noticed that something was not quite right with Christine. “I noticed Christine sitting at the table … and I went over there and then right away she said ‘I don’t feel well.’ She was very confused. That’s not like her at all – she’s very sharp.”

Jody called for the Manager on Duty and several other staff came to assist. After a few questions, the Manager on Duty called Emergency Medical Services for their support and Christine was transported to the hospital. It was later determined that she had a stroke.

Christine made a strong recovery and was discharged to go home and to return to the Y. She is back in Strength and Balance class. Christine reflected on the whole experience: “I can’t say enough about Jody and the staff – I can’t be more thankful for how this was handled, because I believe that the fast response to something that was not normal probably saved my brain. I’m very thankful for that.”

Stroke effects more than 795,000 people in the US each year. Do you know what to look for when it comes to stroke warning signs? The American Stroke Association has an easy acronym to help you remember. Use the letters F.A.S.T to spot a Stroke.

F = Face drooping – does one side of the face droop or is it numb?

A = Arm Weakness – is one arm weak or numb?

S = Speech difficulty – is speech slurred?

T = Time to call 911 – stroke is an emergency and every minute counts. Note the time when any of the symptoms first appear.

In addition you may look for, confusion, trouble seeing, trouble walking, severe headache, or numbness. You can learn more about stroke, stroke prevention and symptoms you can look for at the American Stroke Association.

Mental Health Awareness Month

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, our Y is encouraging community members to care for themselves and others.

Mental health is how we think, feel and act. At the Y, we recognize that we all have mental health, and mental health is an important part of our overall health and social-emotional well-being, as well as a core component of our identity.

The Y supports the mental health of individuals and communities in all the work we do to help people reach their full potential—whether that’s teaching life skills to youth in our summer camps, supporting our staff, or helping people achieve their best physical health. This type of non-clinical support is called “community care” and includes:

  • Understanding mental health as something we all have—it is how we think, feel, and act.
  • Applying positive self-care practices routinely.
  • Engaging in conversations in a genuine way, with empathy and the intent of building meaningful relationships.
  • Modeling emotion regulation, co-regulation, and effective coping skills.
  • Recognizing signs that someone may be struggling.

Through this work, we can reduce the risk and impact of mental illness, provide early intervention, and support the process of healing and recovery. We also provide a critical bridge to formal mental health care providers when needed.

Everyone can play a role in mental health community care. This month you’ll see stories from our Y staff about why mental health is important to them how how they practice self-care to better their mental health.

If you have a story about how the Y contributes to your mental health, email Laura.

Play Like a Kid Again: Adult Recess

Remember the fun of recess time as a kid? Playing kickball, capture the flag or four-square with friends, learning to double-dutch to the beat of the jump rope hitting the pavement, or chasing classmates in a game of tag…no matter what the activity, the sheer exhilaration of joyful play was the very best.

It was this childlike nostalgia that inspired Dawn Liddicoat, Director of Heath and Wellness for the Watertown Area YMCA, to bring back that familiar feeling of being a kid again, by offering Adult Recess for members and guests at the YMCA.

Adult Recess is a chance for adults to come to the Y and experience a night of pure fun, with the opportunity to do things like play games and cards, ping pong, foosball, wallyball, pickleball, or other sports in the gym.

Whether it’s participating in a round of Giant Jenga, playing musical chairs, or challenging your opponent to a jump rope contest, adults are encouraged to let loose and act like a kid again.

YMCA member and Adult Recess enthusiast, Katie VanDerLinden, had this to share about joining in on all the action, “So much socializing is stagnant, this gets us up and moving and interacting. Everyone gets to play; all abilities and we just have good old-fashioned fun.”

Most participants agree that Adult Recess offers them a safe and sane environment with positive peer pressure to move their bodies, make new friends and simply have a blast while doing so. The Y is happy to provide support for those in the community looking for a social outlet that promotes a healthy lifestyle. In a world where being a grown up is hard, we could all benefit in taking some time to play like a kid again.

Keeping Each Other on the Path of Wellness

There’s an old adage, “good food, good friends, good times.” Watertown Area YMCA member, Pam Sterling, along with her tribe of fellow fitness comrades live out this expression well.

For the past 15+ years, the group of 5 women from the Watertown community have been dedicated on a regular basis to work out, fellowship and travel together, something they describe as keeping each other on the path of wellness.

It all started back in 2006, as Pam and one good friend were meeting every Saturday morning for coffee and a fitness class at the Watertown Area YMCA (formerly HAWC.) Over the years, as they continued to try new Y classes being offered, they met new women, finding camaraderie and adding to their group of steadfast workout enthusiasts, who also just happened to love a good cup of java.

“We think our early morning group gets along so well because we have a positive outlook on life. We encourage each other to try new classes and we challenge each other to keep growing,” says Pam.

From Cycling to Body Pump to Flow to Combat, no matter what the class was being offered, this group of women always found something to better their overall health.

This continued pattern of fellowship and fitness at the Y grew a tight knit bond between the five friends, eventually leading to taking vacations together to Northern Wisconsin. Exploring the Northwoods, hiking or biking, eating good food and enjoying each other’s company with time away has strengthened their relationships even deeper.

Pam says the accountability built from this strong bond is really what fuels the group to stay active together. “We all attribute our exercise habit as one reason why we feel good and are generally pretty healthy. We’ve learned about clean eating and healthy snacking from our Y teachers. But we’ve also learned about how important social connections are to our health,” says Sterling.

Even during the height of the pandemic, this commitment stayed stable, with the friends continuing to meet, socially distanced, to walk. They would bundle up and walk a good 3 miles around town, then have coffee together at home via Zoom.

Through the Watertown Area YMCA, this special group of women have found connection, support, encouragement and wellness.

Sterling adds, “As much as we like each other, we really feel like we’re part of the larger Y family. We also feel their support and encouragement to build our healthy spirits, minds and bodies!”