Author Archive: Paul Thompson

Safety Tips For Your Kids For This Summer

The weather is warming up, and if you have kids you know that means it’s pool season — that happy time of year when a body of water will occupy your children for hours on end, tiring them out and giving you a break. But summer pool time can also harbor water-related dangers. So it’s important that their safety is given utmost priority.

Today, we’ll be discussing some tips as gathered by the director of association aquatics at the YMCA of San Diego County about keeping safe while in the water. We’re sharing these tips for a stress-free summer in the pool!

Safety Tip 1: Get swim lessons for your kids

What parents need to keep in mind when getting children pool-ready is to secure swim lessons for them. When it comes to the activity of swimming, drowning is always a risk. It’s also the second leading cause of unintentional injury related death in children from ages 3 to 6.

Being safe in the water is crucial and there are options when it comes to swim lessons from local parks or even rec centers in your area. Your local YMCA offers group swim lessons as well as free lessons on how to keep safe around the water. Its a program that teach kids and gives them skills like properly reaching a pool’s edge and exiting a body of water.

Tip 2: Supervise them at all times

When the little ones head to a pool, it’s important to have someone supervise them appropriately. Kids always find ways to do something they’re not supposed to so it’s crucial that adults be aware and focused.

In your local Y, chances are there’s a lifeguard on duty. So that’s a great way to be assured that you have a committed partner in keeping your children safe.

Tips 3: Learn about dry drowning

Lately, there’s been a push in awareness of dry drowning and secondary drowning. Dry drowning happens when water a child has breathed in causes their vocal cords to spasm and close up. Secondary drowning occurs after swimming or bathing from water inhaled into the lungs, causing trouble breathing. Again, prevention comes down to awareness.

While both dry drowning and secondary drowning are fairly uncommon, parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms. The symptoms for both are the same coughing, chest pain, trouble breathing and feeling extremely tired. Get medical help if your child experiences these symptoms and/or suddenly has a drop in energy or a change in behavior. But again, these conditions are extremely rare so there’s no cause for alarm. If your child has taken swim lessons and there’s an adult supervision the pool, they’re ready for some fun in the sun!

Running Ahead: Some Tips To Remain Injury Free

As running season starts to pick up with the beginning of spring, many people begin earnestly training for summer and fall race. This includes  marathons and half marathons. Like other high-impact sports, a run can lead to injury. If you are not careful and precise about your training, you can be in a world of hurt.

If you’re throwing yourself into this particular season, follow these tips to help stave off injury so you can enjoy the fruits of training on race day.

Running Tip: Start Slow

If you’ve been keeping fit with fitness classes at the YMCA during the winter months, you might dive headfirst into long runs and an aggressive training program. However, the reality is that even for people who are reasonably fit in other areas, it’s still important to start slow when beginning some training.

When you run, you place unique strain on your body. This is particularly true for joints and muscles on your knees, hips, and ankles. Without a steady and slow buildup of speed and miles, you can injure yourself. Injuries such as shin splits or hairline fractures are a risk. Your heart and lungs may be in good condition but the rest of you isn’t. Give your bones, ligaments, and muscles time to catch up.

Generally, people who run abide by the 10% rule. This means increasing your mileage by 10% each week at most. For people who are less fit or have only started, stick to 3 or 5 percent instead. It’s good to stay with low-impact exercise or use the pool on alternate days to maintain your fitness level.

Running Tip: Evolve your runs

It’s tempting to treat every run the same. It can be fairly difficult to let go of a good groove. However, it is important to note that you can reduce injuries by varying your runs. This can help your muscles adapt to different terrains and speeds.

For example, if you always run on flat land, encountering hills during a race will strain you. It’s best to acclimate your legs to all the stresses they will experience on race days. For best results, vary your runs. Use the treadmill to push yourself to increase your pace. Treadmills also help train you to run at an incline, which can be helpful if you live in an area that has mostly flat roads. Use the indoor track to maintain a steady distance.

At least once per week, run outdoors alone or with a fitness group on varied routes to get the psychological feel of running long distances while changing speed, direction, and elevation.

Running Tip: Maintain Flexibility

Going on runs stresses the body. It’s a great sport for fitness and cardiovascular health, but you should always be mindful that any exercise that requires high levels of exertion will tighten your muscles. Don’t neglect your stretching and flexibility when training; you’ll need it to combat the tightening and strengthening of your muscles.

Instead of static stretches, however, it’s best to focus on range of motion exercises that will lengthen and stabilize your developing muscles. For example, bending down slowly to touch your toes 10 times is better for your training and flexibility than bending and holding a folded stretch.

It’s a good thing that always a flexibility class or yoga class available at your local YMCA. Yoga in particular is beneficial for runners because it encourages more balanced muscle development.

Kids Are The Future: YMCA Healthy Kid Day

It is a generally acknowledged fact that children are our future. The YMCA takes this to heart very seriously. As such, several YMCA branches celebrated their Healthy Kids Day! This is an event that’s celebrated nationwide at more than 1,600 branches across the country. It involves more than 1.2 million participants. The goal is to get more of our youth moving, learning, and creating habits that they’ll continue all summer long.

Cheryl Justice, one of the senior health and wellness directors had this to say:

“This is something that YMCAs all over the country do. Each Y kind of personalizes it for their own area. We have a lot of low-income families in our area, so we try to do a goodie bag with lots of healthy snacks. Camden Park always pitches in and gives us tickets.”

In the Huntington area, the event is locally sponsored by Sysco and WIC. The Healthy Kids Day event features more than a dozen information stations from several vendors. Some were Fourth Avenue Arts, the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, and Huntington’s Kitchen.

Ms. Justice also said that the event also give the YMCA a chance to share information on its range of family and children’s programs. Some range from sports leagues to Kids in Motion. “The YMCA is really family oriented and it is not just a gym – we care about kids and we care about families. We do all kinds of things like camps and swimming programs, and we have all kinds of stuff that makes kids healthy, and healthy makes kids happy.”

Other activities include face painting, dancing, and swimming. There are also small talks taken with the parents to make them active partners in the continued wellness goal of their families. One of the wonderful things about this annual event is that older children often volunteer. They offer their services to help the younger set better comprehend what they have to gain. Their participation also fosters the air of community that is the ultimate goal of every YMCA branch.

Nutrition Hacks For A Healthier You

People, in general, have become increasingly committed to better health. As such, the YMCA is dedicated to having their members be the best version of themselves. Top of the line amenities, professional staff, being some of the ways YMCA aims to bring about holistic health. Being healthy is much more than the exercises or exertions that you put your body through. The YMCA is always invested in finding out how to make nutrition a topic that their members be fully knowledgeable in.

Today, we’ll be discussing some hacks that may be the key to being healthier!

Nutrition Hack 1: Water up

A lot of YMCA members fall prey to the latest trend in health beverages. Not that we blame you. It can be pretty tempting to get into something that many have claimed to have worked wonders for them. Protein shakes and juice cleanses are just some of these trends. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the best beverage for a healthier version of themselves has been readily available for years. Of course, we’re talking about plain old H20.

The human body is made up of mostly water and it also relies on water to help perform different functions. Our bodies uses lots of water and it would be in our best interest to keep replenishing it. It is best if YMCA members make water their first choice as a beverage. Summer is coming up and water will help cool bodies while they enjoy vigorous physical activities.

Nutrition Hack 2: Quality Snooze Time!

The importance of getting enough quality sleep cannot be overstated. Getting proper rest is as important as proper diet and exercise.

Poor sleeping habits can drive insulin resistance, throw appetite hormones off their groove, and reduce physical and mental performance. Since the YMCA is committed to the overall better health of their members, suitable emphasis is placed on quality sleep.

Non-quality sleep is one of the strongest individual risk factors for future weight gain and obesity. It increases this risk by 89% in children and 55% in adults. So if this is something you’s want to avoid–get started on training yourself for quality sleep.

Nutrition Hack 3: Let Your Plate Shrink!

Studies have shown that using smaller plates can be an effective strategy for reducing the quantity of food intake. The tendency to fill that plate when serving food often leads to a larger portion in sizes than what is needed.

To combat this, consider serving your meals on smaller plates in general. In the event of wanting seconds, prep additional servings of fruit and vegetables instead of a more calorie rich viand. Vegetables and fruits are the “default” health food of choice. This is for a very good reason. They are loaded with prebiotic fiber, vitamins, minerals, and all sorts of antioxidants. Some of these have potent biological effects.

Studies have shown that people who eat the most vegetables and fruits live longer. They also have lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and all sorts of diseases. So not only are you lessening the usually large amount of food you take in, you’re also getting more fiber and vitamins!

Trainer Relevance in 2017 is Questionable?

We’ve received some interesting feedback with our previous discussion. We’re quite thankful for that! One of the topics that met with a number of requests is to discuss trainers in the YMCA setting. This is quite understandable as those who are wholly invested in the YMCA experience want to get the most of it. A trainer will always be available to help any member reach their health goal.

However, there has been some views that express the contrary. They wonder, with the availability of information regarding best health practices, are trainers still relevant? While YMCA does encourage their members to be proactive about practices and routines that the deem most suitable for them, having a trainer can only benefit members more. How so?

A YMCA Trainer Is Up To Date With Best Practices

In the branches we’ve consulted for our sustainability research, we got to converse with several trainers and asked them regarding new age practices and how it may affect them. In the age of online and digital learning possibilities, YMCA trainers have made it a priority to be discerning. They take the time to learn new trends and develop their own findings based on their own experiences.

Trainers are still crucial in the quest for a healthier lifestyle. They come armed with the necessary hands-on experience to help members carve out a path that best suits them. Yes, information is more readily available to whoever seeks it. However, there is really no replacing the human element. The human interaction that people often crave. Sadly, it also because of technological advancements that people are often feeling disconnected from others and their community.

A YMCA Trainer Is A Cause-Driven Leader

A trainer isn’t just someone who encourages people. A YMCA trainer is also a cause-driven leader who will employ time tested methods in each session. Strong leadership helps to encourage long-term change in the younger set of members. Trainers are and have always been driven to espouse the four core values of respect, responsibility, honesty, and caring upon every person they come across.

It isn’t just about having a healthy body. It’s also about having a healthy outlook on life and becoming a positive addition to the community. With society becoming increasingly agitated, it is even more important that positive leaders exist in our lives. It is crucial to be able to reach out and make a connection at a deeper level.

One of the best things about the YMCA experience is that the organization is your partner in your growth both in body and in personal development. Recently, diversity and inclusion are both important topics that have dominated the strata of conversation. YMCA trainers understand this and strive to incorporate leadership driven competencies in their interactions with both the youth and the adult members of this organization.

So even in the year of 2017, trainers are still quite relevant. In fact, having a trainer has never been quite as relevant as it is today. The entire process of staying relevant falls under the category of self-development and by working to do so, trainers are not only enhancing their teaching skills, they’re bettering themselves, and their community as a whole.

Take Advantage of Your YMCA Membership

Previously, we’ve tackled the methods in which the YMCA can improve their sustainability. Now, we turn our attentions to helping our audience with their YMCA experience. Today, we’ll discuss the ways in which you can take advantage of your YMCA membership.

We’ve established that the YMCA is more than just a gym–it is a point that the YMCA itself has been pushing to its audiences. It’s goal is to lead its members to healthier and happier lives using the YMCA resources available for use.

Take advantage by establishing and maintaining a schedule

A lot of members neglect the opportunity to get fit and healthy as they may think they’re ‘too busy’ or ‘don’t have enough time’. However, a focused mindset is necessary at achieving success. You can fully take advantage of your YMCA membership by setting a clear schedule of when to go and sticking to it.

Let’s say you pick out Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday to work out. Establishing hours within those days and keeping to that schedule will ensure that you are actually getting the workout you need even if it’s a small start.

Take advantage by making use of the childcare services

A common excuse used by members who have children is that there is no one to mind their children. YMCA have staff that are more than happy to watch your child for you while you work out. Members can take advantage of the childcare services available at the branches of YMCA.

It is important to never forget that family membership includes access to childcare. Competent staff are on-hand at no extra charge to mind and entertain your children while you can get started on your health routine. The kids are given a great time at a safe, educational, and enriching environment while you become good examples of being healthy. Also, working out is a good way to battle the stress of parenting.

Take advantage by actively seeking feedback and asking questions

It has been a common sight that after a health class, members are rushing out the door. Members can take advantage of their membership more by sticking around after classes and actively seeking feedback or by approaching the instructors with any concerns.

Not only will this improve your personal routine, you can also help improve the class by offering feedback. If approaching the instructor isn’t your thing, you can fill out a comment card. These are located on the fitness desk and by the front desk. YMCA strives to constantly improve their services and you can help them reach this by offering your thoughts and questions.

Take advantage by getting the whole family involved

It is common knowledge that activities are more fun when shared with loved ones. So a pretty good way to take advantage of your membership is getting the whole family involved. Having your partner along with help keep motivate up for the whole of the routine. Having your kids see your seriousness as getting or staying healthy, it’ll lay the foundation for their own healthy lifestyles.

Children and teens can join the many different programs available for the youth like team sports, the YMCA camp for the summer, or even an after school program. Doing age-appropriate workouts is a great way to live healthy lives.

With this, it’s time to get started on a healthier routine for the new year!

The Importance of Sustainability

In line with the discussion in the previous post, we’ll take a more in-depth discussion on sustainability. In the recent decade, more and more organizations are coming to understanding the need for sustainability. To begin with, the concept of sustainability—particularly for an organization, is a complex one. The sustainability of an organization is often misunderstood and is usually believed to be related to the financial aspect of an organization.

This is the usual misconception as when an organization is no longer sustainable the symptoms mostly reflect itself in the group’s finances. Just what is sustainability anyway? Sustainability is the concept of a natural system function that must remain diverse and able to produce the needs of a system in order to retain its balance. In business, the concept of sustainability becomes known as corporate sustainability. This would be the management and coordination of environmental, social, and financial demands and issues to secure responsible, ethical, and continued success. In order for YMCA to continue its presence, it needs to meet their triple bottom line.

Corporations, organizations, and others can enjoy some very clear benefits to adopting a sustainable business plan for themselves. Adopting a sustainable business practice will save money in the long run. Employing technologies or practices that cut down the waste in energies and resources will better generate income. This occurs since the employees or different department members keep their energies directed to better projects, keeping their time productive. Keeping the concept of sustainability as an overall theme in your marketing concepts can and will boost an organization’s market share. When an organization trims the fat, so to speak, their better processes will put forth a stronger and positive reputation that will attract the interest of smart investors, new customers, and even the information hungry media.

An even more attractive benefit to maintaining a sustainable market plan in an organization is that it will help attract and maintain employees. A business or organization with a clear direction and clear sustainable practices will be like a platter of honey for eager and highly qualified employees.

A good example of an organization that is currently reaping the rewards of sustainability practices is Disney. They integrated environmental practices when the decided to run their trains on biodiesel. This helped show that Disney was committed in creating a sustainable resource to keep their trains running for a long period that would not up their operational costs. This showed investors that Disney would be looking for more sustainable means and will be around for much longer.

The YMCA truly needs to enact clear and effective sustainable practices in all their branches to lower their operational costs and to attract new members and investors. Their goal should be to enact practices that will extend the timeline for the return of investment but once initiated will lead to an increase in their profits. There might be a bit of a spike on costs for now but will lead to an enhanced performance across the board in all aspects of their business.

Sustainability Education

The third part of the plan focuses on sustainability education for the 2,000 children that are served daily by YMCA employees across 50 childcare sites.  The YMCA offers full and part time daycare for infants and toddlers, after school childcare, kindergarten childcare, as well as holiday and vacation camps.  Because the YMCA reaches such a broad base of capital region children from all socio-economic backgrounds, this is an essential place to implement simple, but long-lasting sustainability lessons.

Sustainability education fits in very closely with the other aspects of our strategic plan and highlights the YMCA’s mission to build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities through programs that build healthy mind, body, and spirit – a mission statement that the YMCA is working to bring back to the forefront of their organization.  Studies are beginning to emerge that show the importance of sustainability education to children.  It is in the early childhood period that children begin to develop their basic values, attitudes, skills, and habits which they carry with them throughout their lives.  This is a perfect opportunity to develop these behaviors in a way that supports sustainable development.  It is important that while the lessons have overarching themes, they also have local relevance that children can directly relate to, as this will give the lessons real meaning and impact.  The YMCA provides an ideal setting for this, as the lessons can be shaped to properly support each location.  A useful framework for shaping sustainable education center around the integration of three key themes:  a foundation of ecological ethics (respect, compassion, sustainability), the overarching focus of climate change / global warming and renewable energy, and a backdrop of environmental and ecosystem health.  These themes build on one another to create a basic knowledge of sustainability that stays with children when they go home and as they grow older.

The initial target for this education should be the after-school programs offered at the YMCA branches.  While the staff will have had exposure to the role of sustainability at the YMCA during orientation, we feel that a partnership may be beneficial in providing basic sustainability lessons to both the staff and the children.  There is no specific curriculum in an after-school program, as it basically serves as a place for the students to work on homework with the guidance of the staff.  We would encourage the YMCA to explore a relationship with the University at Albany Go Green program, specifically with the direction of environmental sustainability.  There is a program that will begin in the fall of 2011 in which 60 students at the University at Albany will be part of a living and learning sustainability program on campus.  Through coordination between the YMCA and the University at Albany, a program can be created in which these college students can volunteer monthly at all of the branches, providing simple sustainability lessons to the children of the after-school programs.  The YMCA should concentrate initially on green tips, such as recycling programs and simple energy saving measures that the children can translate to their home life.  The SUNY students can also do relevant arts & crafts projects to make these lessons fun and easy to understand.  There can be relevant tie-in to homework as well by using topics like math and science to reinforce sustainability.  For example, in a school in Florida, four students with strengths in math measured the amount of paper collected in recycling bins and converted these measurements to number of trees saved.  The students then hung a huge bar graph of trees saved at the entrance of school.

There are also opportunities for community impact and fundraising, as well as whole-family programs offered in the evening that could help increase the YMCA’s impact on the community as a whole.  The YMCA in conjunction with SUNY Albany could implement Go Green Nights to help bring the message of sustainability to the parents of the children, as well as all of the members of the branch.  This would be a beneficial relationship to both the YMCA and SUNY Albany to provide the message to the community that both organizations are working together to bring sustainability to the Capital Region.

After one year of the program, it would be important to update the executive team and board on the status of the initiative and how it has helped to highlight sustainability at the YMCA to the children it serves, as well as their families, the members of the YMCA, and the community as a whole.  This would help to achieve board buy-in to education initiatives and allow for the possible expansion of sustainability education to other segments of children within the YMCA.  For example, the same themes and lessons indirectly taught during daycare can be applied to camp programs as well; there’s an Earth Day, why not make an Earth Week?

Final Proposal Part 3

Measuring the Effect of the Green Team
The YMCA should create impact surveys that can be handed out to the employees and placed on the YMCA website. At first, these will measure the employees’ personal sustainability efforts and their current knowledge of the YMCA’s green initiatives. Later in the year, the surveys can be modified to see if there is improvement in employee motivation, inspiration, retention, or excitement towards the YMCA’s initiatives. The Green Team can also track the number of employees that have gone through the updated orientation program and the children that have taken part in the after school programs and “Go Green” events.

Costs and Benefits of a Green Team
The primary cost of the Green Team is that all individuals involved in the Green Team must take some time away from work in order to participate. Although we are unable to quantify the cost, the benefits are numerous. Carrie Freeman, a Corporate Sustainability Strategist at Intel, stated,

“When it comes to looking at ways to reduce our footprint, we very much see a direct correlation between reducing our costs and engaging our employees. Be it changing light bulbs, turning off the lights or getting your employees to innovate greener solutions in their jobs, engaging your employees to identify easy, low cost efficiency initiatives can result in significant cost savings.”
Libby Reder, Head of Environmental Initiatives at eBay, believes that their green team is one of main reasons some employees choose to stay with eBay. According to eBay’s recruiters, the presence of their green team also allows them to attract the best talent because the green team gives employees an outlet for their personal interests and shows the authenticity of the organization’s commitment to becoming more sustainable. PwC’s Managing Tomorrow’s People survey, found that 86% of employees surveyed would consider leaving an employer whose corporate responsibility behavior no longer met their expectations. Furthermore, a recent poll on green employment by MonsterTRAK.com found that 80% of young professionals are interested in securing a job that has a positive impact on the environment, and 92% would be more inclined to work for a company that is environmentally friendly. In regard to employee turnover, Reder believes that the presence of a green team helps to raise morale and improve an employee’s loyalty toward eBay because it is engaging. According to the popular book Engaged!, losing and having to replace an employee can cost more than 70% of an employee’s annual salary. If the YMCA were to create a green team as part of its sustainability strategy, it would likely reap many of the aforementioned benefits.

 

Part 2 – Integrating Sustainability into Employee Orientation
In order to build sustainability into the YMCA’s culture, awareness needs to be created in the beginning. Currently, the YMCA’s employee orientation is 4 hour long, which includes 2 hours of relationship training at the administrative office on customer service and 2 hours of new employee orientation at branches on a rotating basis. The new employee orientation covers everything the employees should know about the YCMA: its history, mission, culture, safety issues, rules, expectations, etc. We believe that the YMCA should also incorporate 15 minutes of discussion on the topic of sustainability. Before this can be done however, the trainers need to be trained.

At the Guilderland branch of the YMCA, new employee orientation is handled by Patrick Barrington, John J. Hayden, and 2-3 other individuals known as the Orientation Task Force. These five individuals need to completely understand sustainability before they can teach others about it, so they will need some form of training. The SUNY Albany Sustainability Program offers free education on the topic of sustainability. Working in conjunction with members of the SUNY Albany Sustainability Program, Mr. Barrington, Mr. Hayden, and the Orientation Task Force, can develop a standardized video and/or PowerPoint presentation on sustainability for use in the YMCA orientation program; it would be seen as a message from the CEO. This video and/or PowerPoint would likely debut in the Guilderland YMCA, and eventually be used across all YMCAs with the approval of the CEO. As the CDYMCA is currently re-vamping their training process, this new initiative can be built in immediately.

The 15-minute sustainability part of employee orientation can be divided into 3 sections (see below). While part of the presentation should include a standardized message for all YMCA orientations, some sections will need to be tailored to each branch, at the discretion of the management team, depending on specific programs and service offerings.

Section 1 – This is an introduction to the importance of sustainability. This would likely contain the video and/or presentation standardized for all YMCAs. Two potential items that could be included are: (1) an indication of why sustainability is important to the employees and to the CDYMCA and (2) how the actions of the employees can impact the environment and the organization.

Section 2 – This provides a specific description of what the YMCA has done in the past to become more sustainable. For example, by implementing paper reduction rules (double-sided printing, use of recycled paper, limited packaging), the YMCA has reduced its paper usage by about 25%, saving approximately one million sheets of paper. The advantages of implementing the solar panels in Guilderland YMCA facility should be introduced as an example as well.

Section 3 – The final section could include suggestions of how the employees can help the YMCA continue to progress toward sustainability in the future. Here, employees could be introduced to the Green Team, informed about what the team does, and encouraged to participate in and/or join the team. In addition, new employees could be encouraged to “like” the Green Team’s YMCA Facebook page, should the YMCA choose to put that on the existing page. As an example specific actions that employees can take to make their office green, see Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2 in the appendix.

Costs and Benefits of Integrating Sustainability into Employee Orientation
There are two costs to integrating sustainability into employee orientation: (1) The time spent educating the five individuals who will be training the employees, and (2) the time required to create the video and/or PowerPoint presentation customized for the YMCA. The total time spent on these two areas should only be a couple of hours. The benefits to this would be more engaged employees and an important reminder that the employees can have a huge effect on the success of the YMCA.

Final Proposal Part 2

CDYMCA Key Issues

The first issue facing the YMCA is a lack of buy-in by stakeholders in regard to sustainability initiatives.  As a result, the YMCA needs a strategic plan that can be presented to the CEO and Board of Directors on achieving buy-in.

Although sustainability is very important to some of the individuals associated with the YCMA, the general feeling is that sustainability is not as important as the operations of the YMCA’s operations and programs.  Being a non-for-profit, the YMCA is limited in the amount of capital it can spend on sustainability initiatives.

The second issue the YMCA is facing relates to its branding and its positioning within the market space.  The fact that the CDYMCA is the largest provider of child care in the region has gone largely unnoticed.  In addition, the CDYMCA is seen primarily as a fitness center as opposed to a wellness center.

This market position causes the CDYCMA to be compared with other fitness centers, such as Gold’s Gym, thereby creating a disadvantage.

Our Call to Action

After reviewing the issues, our team has decided to develop a long-term, strategic plan for sustainability that will engage stakeholders on all levels.  Our plan has two sections, a 3-part sustainability plan and a solar thermal project at the Guilderland, NY branch of the YMCA.  Our sustainability plan has been divided into three parts.

The first part is the forming of branch green teams, which will eventually report to the Director of Property/Project Management, Patrick Barrington.

The second part is using sustainability education to engage the members of the YMCA, most notably young children and their parents.  We will pursue this through various on-site and after school programs, with possible partnerships with SUNY Albany and the use of guest speakers.

Before that can occur however, we suggest a training/education program for new and current employees.  Employees cannot teach others about sustainability unless they themselves understand it.

The final part of our plan will focus on performance metrics.  Currently, due to old technology and the lack of a baseline for metrics, energy is not effectively tracked at the YMCA branches.  We will suggest metrics that can be tracked and utilized to achieve continuous improvement and better energy management at each branch.

The second section of our proposal is the solar thermal project in the Guilderland, NY branch of the YMCA.  Here, we will analyze the costs and benefits of using thermal solar panels to heat the pool by projecting cost savings.  Further details, including the project’s relation to marketing and public relations are discussed later.

Guilderland YMCA Proposal

Part 1 – The Green Team

The Green Team is a group of staff members from a department, office, or organization that meet regularly to educate themselves and their colleagues about sustainability, examine the sustainability of office and work practices, and create innovative solutions.

The Green Team’s responsibility is to engage the employees and foster green initiatives that can be put into action, as well as measure progress on implementations that have been put into practice.  The Green Team can be promoted through the use of the YMCA’s Facebook page.

There will be one green team at each CDYMCA branch.  The team would be volunteer-based; however, members from all levels of the facility would be encouraged to join to allow for different perspectives of the organization.  The number of team members is best left up to the YMCA’s management should they choose to implement it because there is no research to suggest an optimal number of members.  Team members would have different responsibilities, titles, and areas of expertise.

The leader of the Green Team could be voted upon.  The Director of Property/Project Management, Patrick Barrington, would be placed in charge of the green teams.  The green team leaders would report directly to him, who in turn would report directly to the YMCA President and CEO, David Brown.

Green teams would meet at their respective facilities every two weeks. The regional meeting of the green team leaders from each branch would meet quarterly.  The time spent in these meetings is best left up to YMCA’s management as well.

The green teams work both bottom-up and top-down. Green team members gather employees’ suggestions and opinions and report to the top-management. Top-management passes down sustainability rules and principles to green teams to pass to staff members.

Each green team should determine which sustainability issues they feel are most important to the YMCA, and create a rough prioritization of these issues.  Areas to consider would include but are not limited to: energy, water use, material waste, transportation, office equipment and computing, supply chains, and purchasing.

All consumption should be measured in terms of usage amounts or costs.  There should be base metrics for each consumption area along with related goals focused on lessening these numbers by a certain percentage or amount each year.  In addition, there needs to be a detailed list of how the YMCA plans to reach each goal it sets (i.e. lower waste 5% by 2011 by working with the local waste disposal company).

Each month, these measurements should be graphed against the metrics and analyzed for patterns that arise throughout the course of the year.  As the amount of historical data increases, the YMCA will begin to see trends and the effect of seasonality on the organization.  This data can then be used for future projections and benchmarking; benchmarking against other YMCAs should continue to be used as well.

Suggestions from the Green Team could include: A clear definition of the action to be taken (one sentence or less), quantifiable benefits that the YMCA would receive from implementing the action along with intangible benefits (employee satisfaction, morale), an outline of the costs of the program, a summary of the risks associated with the action, and how the action will be tracked, measured and reported to the executive team and employees.

The following are examples of how to engage employees: have a suggestion box for employees/members, implement a “Green Employee of the Month” recognition program, or email employees with green tips and stories to motivate them.  As an example, the emails could include monthly usage metrics of energy costs to keep employees up to date with the YMCA’s continuous improvement.   The YMCA could invite green speakers to speak during lunch or at all-staff meetings.

Employees could be encouraged to carpool or bicycle to work.  Instead of Earth day, celebrate the entire month with competitions, green (healthy) foods, prizes, etc.  Encourage buying recycled products/supplies for the office.  Research the cleaning supplies and search for healthier/greener alternatives.  Have donation drives for gently used shoes, clothing, electronics, etc.  Hand out green re-usable bags and travel mugs with the YMCA logo, or offer them in stores as a profitable product/marketing tool.

Not only will many of these suggestions get the employees involved, but they will invariably get YMCA members involved as well.  The Green Team will use signs and set the monthly and yearly goals that the facility must strive to reach. Exhibit 1 shows an example of signs that can be posted on the wall.  Exhibit 2 shows the checklist that the Green Team can use to measure how green each branch is.

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