Celebrate 170 Years of YMCA History

History, Sports, Traditions
on June 10, 2014
YMCA History

On June 6th, the YMCA celebrated more than 170 years as more than just a place, but also a movement that offers programs and services designed to help foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Here are a few notable events and achievements that demonstrate the Y’s commitment to the communities it serves.

American Institutions
Major celebrations such as Father’s Day and organizations like the Peace Corps have their roots at the YMCA.

Inventing New Ways to Play
From James Naismith’s invention of basketball while attending YMCA training to instructors creating racquetball and what would eventually become volleyball, the Y has a rich tradition in activities that are played by millions of people around the globe. One Y staffer, Robert J. Roberts, is even credited with inventing the term “body building.”

James Naismith and his wife, Maude Sherman Naismith

James Naismith and his wife, Maude Sherman Naismith

Camping Under the Stars
The oldest known summer camp, Camp Dudley, first opened in 1855, and countless numbers of boys and girls have since learned the skills and wonders of camping through the Y, developing critical skills and making memories along the way.

Nobel Laureate
YMCA leader John R. Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for the Y’s groundbreaking role in raising global awareness and support and for the organization’s humanitarian efforts.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner John R. Mott

Nobel Peace Prize Winner John R. Motts

Furthering Education
The Y is credited with spearheading the first public libraries, night school for adult education and organized courses for English as a second language.

Still Relevant in 2014
Today, the Y serves more than 21 million people annually and offers resources at over 2,700 locations across all 50 states. Here are three ways “community” continues as the Y’s number one cause:

Nurturing the Potential of Our Kids
The Y helps nearly 9 million children reach their full potential each year through educational initiatives, such as early learning readiness programs, which help children enter kindergarten ready to learn. There are also summer and after-school learning programs to help young children improve their reading skills.

Each program demonstrates the Y’s unwavering commitment to ensuring children are on track for a successful education, especially those in underserved communities. Watch the video below, produced by the Y in partnership with the renowned dance troupe Catapult, which spotlights the amazing potential of today’s youth.

Improving the Nation’s Health and Well-being
More than a place to work out, the Y offers programs that help individuals and families improve their health and enact changes that strengthen community and society as a whole. From working with people who are trying to find ways to improve their overall health to preventing chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes to helping people recover from serious illnesses like cancer, the Y is one of the few organizations in the country with the size and influence that can effectively reach millions of people.

Ys are also active in the community, creating communal gardens, increasing access to farmers’ markets, ensuring children have a safe route to school and so much more. Here is a video the Y and Catapult recently released to celebrate the Y’s healthy living initiatives.

Support For All Our Neighbors
As one of the leading nonprofits in the nation, the Y’s social services and volunteer programs help more than 10,000 communities nationwide. From organizing volunteers when disaster strikes to establishing recycling and sustainability programs, every effort helps to make a difference. Click below to enjoy the video collaboration between the Y and Catapult, demonstrating the Y’s commitment to social responsibility.

For more information on Y programs, please visit their website.