For A Better Us

August 24, 2020

Safe Space for Students

At the Y, you’ll find a safe space for students so they can remain active, learning and engaged.

With student safety top of mind as the new school year begins, the Y is working to take some of the worry away from busy parents. We’re offering a variety of options to help enhance your child’s academic achievement, whether they’ll be learning in the classroom or online.

Programs include:

Y Learning Labs is an alternative to distance learning from home. Children will complete their virtual assignments in their own quiet and safe work space at the Y. They will have access to WiFi and certified staff to help them navigate online curriculum.

“As an organization dedicated to youth development, the Y knows how important it is that our children have a safe and enriching environment for learning, both in and out of school,” said Maria Aristizabal, Vice President of Youth Development. “We are pleased to be able to provide multiple options to kids and families in our community, allowing their invaluable social, emotional, physical and academic growth to continue, while also giving a helping hand to parents dealing with new challenges because of this public health crisis.”

In addition to Y Learning Labs, students will have the opportunity to join Y Clubs, where they can get healthy social time with other kids while participating in enrichment centers. Centers include STEM, arts, physical activities and leadership development.

In order to help keep kids and staff healthy and safe throughout the school year, the Y is following CDC, state and local requirements and guidelines through extensive safety protocols, including:

  • Daily health screenings for children and staff
  • Mask requirements for children and staff
  • Reduced capacity in group activities
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of all areas and supplies used


Financial assistance is available to ensure every child and teen has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

Register for Y Learning Labs

Find a Before & Afterschool Site Near You

At the Y, you’ll find a safe space for students so they can remain active, learning and engaged. With student safety top of mind as the new school year begins, the Y is working to take some of the worry away from busy parents. We’re offering a variety of options…


June 24, 2020

Building Greater Health Equity on the First Coast

By Eric K. Mann
President and CEO, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast

In less than three months, our nation experienced two critical events that will forever change the trajectory of modern history.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the horrific, high-profile killings of black men and women in the last several weeks, have underscored the systemic racism and seismic health disparities that persist within our communities. The pandemic, which according to the CDC, has killed a disproportionate number of black men and women and put many more out of work, highlights the pronounced gaps in access to quality health care, education and economic opportunities.

Since the 1960s, urban planning mechanisms and policies have helped perpetuate a cycle of oppression by ensuring Jacksonville’s poorest communities lacked access to well-paying jobs, affordable housing, quality schools and accessible health and wellness resources. This cycle continues today. In communities across the United States, including here on the First Coast, it is easy to distinguish between areas that have benefitted from high levels of public and private investment over the years and those that have not. According to the Florida Department of Health and a 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment from UF Health Jacksonville, residents living in Health Zone 1 (the urban core and surrounding areas) experience high – if not the highest – levels of crime, infant-mortality, chronic disease, obesity and poverty. Over 76% of residents in Health Zone 1 are black.

While there are many historical and contextual factors that contribute to systemic oppression, the First Coast YMCA is keenly focused on ensuring health equity across every neighborhood. We want every resident to live their healthiest life regardless of what they look like, where they’re from and how much money they make.

But, the Y cannot do it alone. Community collaboration is critical to bridging the gap in health disparities that exist between zip codes. This is why the First Coast YMCA has partnered with our medical community to integrate medical and community health into a total wellness resource. For example, the Y has partnered with Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation, Flagler Health+, Florida Blue and UF Health to make a wide spectrum of services accessible to the surrounding community. A YMCA membership is not required and many of the services provided by on-site clinical professionals, including health screenings, are available at no cost.

We have six Healthy Living Centers locations across the First Coast with two more opening before the end of the year. Two of these centers, in partnership with Baptist Health, are located at the James Weldon Johnson Family YMCA and YMCA at Baptist North and reside in zip codes with majority black populations. Both centers work to address obesity, high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes.

Breaking down systemic racism and oppression is no easy feat. Tackling just one social issue won’t break the cycle. It will take all of us – First Coast residents, community leaders, businesses and elected officials – to have real conversations on how to create lasting change and ensure equal opportunities for every community.

We can start by looking beyond our own backyards and investing in the communities that need it most. The First Coast YMCA is ready to continue to be a willing partner in this journey to end health disparities.

For more than 110 years, the Y has been inspiring a brighter and healthier future for all in Northeast Florida. Our cause is strengthening community. No matter the challenges, we believe that together, we can and will create a better tomorrow for everyone who calls the First Coast home.

To make this time of racial reckoning more than a moment, Jacksonville must seek to understand how racism affects every aspect of daily life and is embedded in every system in our society. To that end, community leaders are speaking out on racial disparities across sectors, how they’re working to close them and what it will take to build a more just city. This article, published June 18, 2020 in the Florida Times-Union, is part of a series of columns.

Join the Conversation

June 27: World YMCA is hosting a global online event on June 27 at 10:00am to amplify the voices of young changemakers working to achieve a more just and inclusive world. The event is open to everyone, no matter age or status. The event will also be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube.

July 1: Register to join a virtual YMCA town hall meeting hosted by the African American YMCA CEOs that will explore the topic of unlearning systemic racism on Wednesday, July 1, from 11:00am – 3:00pm.

Start Your Individual Anti-Racism Journey

Learn: Take Harvard’s Implicit Association Test to assess where you are at in your anti-racist journey and begin taking courses around diversity, inclusion, and equity. This can include personal learning (books, movies, podcasts, etc.) or formal training.

By Eric K. Mann President and CEO, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast In less than three months, our nation experienced two critical events that will forever change the trajectory of modern history. The COVID-19 pandemic and the horrific, high-profile killings of black men and women in the last several weeks,…


May 2, 2020

Join the Water Watcher Challenge

The Water Watcher Pledge

I agree to:

  • actively watch children when they are in or near any body of water.
  • in an emergency, pull all children out of the water and call 911.
  • keep my eyes on the water.
  • avoid distractions.
  • help us spread the word.

JOIN THE WATER WATCHER CHALLENGE

Thursday, May 21, through Memorial Day, Monday, May 25

5 WINNERS will be chosen at random to receive a YMCA Water Safety Swag Bag. Winners announced May 31.

  • Download and print the YMCA Water Watcher Badge.
  • Take the Pledge to be a Water Watcher.
  • Take a photo holding your Water Watcher Badge and post on social media.
  • Tag and Challenge a Friend to pledge to be a Water Watcher, too.
  • Tag @FirstCoastYMCA and #WaterWatcher.

The Water Watcher Pledge I agree to: actively watch children when they are in or near any body of water. in an emergency, pull all children out of the water and call 911. keep my eyes on the water. avoid distractions. help us spread the word. JOIN THE WATER WATCHER…


April 17, 2020

Tiger Academy Teacher Honored with One-of-a-Kind Award

Congratulations to Tiger Academy English language arts teacher Edward Moore, one of four recipients of this year’s Gladys Prior Awards from the University of North Florida.

Moore teaches fifth-grade at Tiger Academy. He has spent 15 years developing rapport with students beyond graduation, attending events he is invited to by his students and serving as a mentor for teacher candidates. He is also a founding member of Brothers Accountable Driven and Determined (BADD).

Every year, the University of North Florida’s College of Education and Human Services has the privilege of recognizing deserving, local school teachers through this one-of-a-kind award. It’s among the largest monetary awards for teachers in the nation, with each teacher receiving $15,000.

Gilchrist Berg, a Jacksonville-area businessman and longtime YMCA supporter, established the awards in 1998 to honor his 4th grade teacher, Gladys Prior.  So far Berg has given over $2 million to honor Jacksonville teachers.

Teachers are nominated based on criteria including evidence of sustained inspiration to students, evidence of sustained teaching excellence and 10 or more years in the classroom.

This is the second time a Tiger Academy teacher has been selected to receive the award. In 2016, kindergarten teacher Susan Harper accepted the honor.

Through a unique partnership with the First Coast YMCA, Tiger Academy focuses on providing a nurturing learning environment while emphasizing rigorous learning academic standards, personal responsibility, character development, and strong family involvement.

Congratulations to Tiger Academy English language arts teacher Edward Moore, one of four recipients of this year’s Gladys Prior Awards from the University of North Florida. Moore teaches fifth-grade at Tiger Academy. He has spent 15 years developing rapport with students beyond graduation, attending events he is invited to by…


March 26, 2020

Here for the First Coast

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Y is providing critical services to frontline workers, families and our neighbors in need.

Whether it’s providing child care to health care providers or essential workers, staying connected with our wellness community through virtual fitness classes, providing virtual academic programming for kids and teens, or reaching out to our senior population to let them know they are not alone, we want to make sure our services are still available to all in this time of need.

Our Impact


Take a look at some of the stories about our community impact featured recently in the news:

May 13

May 9

May 1

April 27

April 2

March 26

March 24

March 23

March 20

Thank you for your continued support and loyalty to the Y. We can’t do this important work without your help. We will get through this together.

#staywithus

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Y is providing critical services to frontline workers, families and our neighbors in need. Whether it’s providing child care to health care providers or essential workers, staying connected with our wellness community through virtual fitness classes, providing virtual academic programming for kids and…


March 14, 2020

Coronavirus Updates

The safety and well-being of our staff, members, volunteers and guests is always the Y’s top priority. It is our social responsibility to do our part in the face of this unprecedented health emergency.

We are thrilled with Governor DeSantis’ announcement that gyms in Florida can reopen starting Monday. As we navigate through reopening our facilities across the First Coast, our team continues to put the needs, health and safety of our members and staff at the forefront of our decision-making process.

We serve many different populations, including our community’s most vulnerable, and are choosing to open in a phased approach. In order to properly prepare our branches for our nearly 48,000 members and train more than 850 employees on new safety guidelines, we will reopen Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day) from 7:00am-3:00pm. These are our regular holiday hours. Hours by branch will be announced soon.

While the Y will look very different with modified programs and new protocols, our commitment to strengthening this community will not. We can’t wait to welcome back our members and staff.

The Y will implement a three-phased approach to offer programs and services to members with appropriate guidance from health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Phases are not time-based and will be modified and revised as guidance changes.

At this time, the Y will expect members and staff to follow these guidelines:

  • Updated hours of operation will vary by branch, with time allotted for active older adults and vulnerable populations. Limited facility capacity and class size to meet social distancing guidelines. Reservations will be required for some programs and classes.
  • Upon return to work, Y staff (apart from lifeguards on active duty and Group Exercise instructors teaching class), must wear face masks during their shift.
  • All members and staff will have temperatures monitored upon entry into Y facilities and are required to practice social distancing.
  • Hand sanitizing stations and disinfectant wipes for equipment will be provided throughout the facility.

New stringent cleaning and disinfecting protocols are also being implemented throughout all areas of Y facilities and program sites. The Y will only use cleaners on CDC List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

At this time, activities such as open gym, swim lessons and adult and/or youth sports will not be available, but will be considered in subsequent phases based on guidance from health officials. We will continue to provide LIVE virtual services to members through our Facebook page and On Demand workouts on YouTube.

We will continue you to update you with new information as we get closer to reopening day.

We can’t wait to welcome everyone back to our Ys!

Summer Camp

At this time, we are planning to hold Summer Day Camp at locations across the First Coast and overnight camp at Camp Immokalee beginning in June. We will be taking extra precautions to help decrease the spread of coronavirus which include limited capacity, temperature checks and daily health surveys. Registration is available online. If you have questions about Summer Day Camp, please call 904.265.1775. If you have questions about Camp Immokalee, please call 352.473.4213.

Child Care

We will continue to offer emergency child care services through May 29 to our health care community, first responders, members and participants in a very limited capacity at locations across the First Coast. We are taking extra precautions to help decrease the spread of the Coronavirus.

Youth Sports and Swim Team

At this time, we do not know when we will be able to resume Youth Sports or Swim Team safely. If you have questions, please contact us your branch.

Virtual Services

Our staff are continuing to work hard for you throughout this time to provide new virtual services and other offerings.

Your membership is so important to the good work that we have been doing for our First Coast community since 1908.

We ask that you continue to pay your membership fee so that we continue to provide necessary services for children, families and adults across the First Coast.

Click here for more details on our impact.

FAQs

Why did you decide to close?
The safety and well-being of our staff, members, volunteers and guests is always the Y’s top priority. As a community organization, it is our social responsibility to do our part in the face of this unprecedented health emergency. With new guidelines and mandates from health officials and government leaders, as well as guidance from key leadership on our Metro Board, we had to temporarily close all branches. This was a precautionary measure and we remain committed to helping keep the First Coast healthy and strong.

Can I place my membership on hold?
While we understand you may feel the need to place your membership on hold, we are encouraging all members to stay engaged with the First Coast YMCA during these uncertain times. The YMCA is committed to keeping this community strong and our First Coast Y staff will continue working to provide new virtual services and other offerings for our members.

Your membership fees during our closure may be converted to a charitable gift to support the Y. This gift is eligible for a tax receipt and you will be making a substantial difference in the lives of our neighbors all over the First Coast.

We will of course honor and respect all requests to hold memberships. If interested, please call 904.265.1775 and leave a voicemail with your contact information. Our staff is working remotely from 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday, and we will do our best to return your call within 48 hours during those times.

How can I get updates about the reopening of branches and programs?
Check our website often for updates, allow notifications from our mobile app and follow us on Facebook. We’ll also continue to send updates through email.

The safety and well-being of our staff, members, volunteers and guests is always the Y’s top priority. It is our social responsibility to do our part in the face of this unprecedented health emergency. We are thrilled with Governor DeSantis’ announcement that gyms in Florida can reopen starting Monday. As…


March 12, 2020

Coronavirus: A Message from President and CEO Eric Mann

I want to thank you for being part of our First Coast YMCA family. Our priority is providing a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone who enters our doors and participates in our programs.

With global coronavirus (COVID-19) remaining top of mind for all of us, I’d like to personally update you on the increased prevention measures we are taking to reduce the risk of exposure for our staff, our members, our participants and our community.

In addition to closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from public health officials and government agencies, we are:

  • Focused now, more than ever, on ensuring our facilities are clean and sanitized, with extra attention to frequently touched surfaces
  • Encouraging staff, members and participants to stay home if sick and take everyday preventive actions to avoid illness
  • Making decisions to postpone or cancel some events
  • Implementing new personal travel guidelines for all employees and stopping business travel for employees

As this is a rapidly-changing situation, we appreciate your patience and understanding. We will continue to keep you informed on our efforts to stay healthy together.

Again, thank you for your loyalty to the Y.

Eric K. Mann
President and CEO
YMCA of Florida’s First Coast

PROGRAM & EVENT CANCELLATIONS

I want to thank you for being part of our First Coast YMCA family. Our priority is providing a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone who enters our doors and participates in our programs. With global coronavirus (COVID-19) remaining top of mind for all of us, I’d like to personally…


February 8, 2020

New Diabetes Prevention Class in St. Johns County

The Diabetes Prevention Program is not an exercise or nutrition lecture series. Instead, it is a year-long program broken down into 16 one-hour weekly sessions followed by bi-weekly and monthly sessions.

New Class
February 27, 2020
Flagler Heath+ Village
5:30p-6:30p

The Diabetes Prevention Program is not an exercise or nutrition lecture series. Instead, it is a year-long program broken down into 16 one-hour weekly sessions followed by bi-weekly and monthly sessions. New Class February 27, 2020 Flagler Heath+ Village 5:30p-6:30p


February 8, 2020

Now Hiring for Summer

Come spend the best summer ever changing lives at the Y!

We’re looking for caring, fun-loving, and enthusiastic site directors, camp counselors, lifeguards and more.

Click here for all job opportunities.


The Camp Immokalee Experience

Since 1909, YMCA Camp Immokalee has provided youth with an unsurpassed traditional resident camp experience.

From learning archery, to experiencing the thrill of riding down a 350 foot zip line, to catching a bass on the shores of Lake Brooklyn – and so much more!

Come spend the best summer ever changing lives at the Y! We’re looking for caring, fun-loving, and enthusiastic site directors, camp counselors, lifeguards and more. Click here for all job opportunities. The Camp Immokalee Experience Since 1909, YMCA Camp Immokalee has provided youth with an unsurpassed traditional resident camp experience….


February 8, 2020

First Coast Games Expands into St. Johns County!

First Coast Games is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and we’re excited to expand the Y’s beloved corporate wellness program! First Coast Games is coming to St. Johns and Flagler counties for an exclusive season of competition, networking, team-building and wellness presented by Flagler Health+.

If your company is located in St. Johns or Flagler counties, you won’t want to miss this! The GAMES will bring your employees together to strengthen overall morale in a format you’ve never seen before! For more info, please contact Dana Troeger.

WATCH: First Coast Games 2019

First Coast Games is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and we’re excited to expand the Y’s beloved corporate wellness program! First Coast Games is coming to St. Johns and Flagler counties for an exclusive season of competition, networking, team-building and wellness presented by Flagler Health+. If your company is…