Read Across America with Dr. Seuss

Students nationwide will pick up a book to celebrate Dr. Seuss today, March 2, National Education Association’s 18th annual Read Across America Day celebration of reading and Dr. Seuss’s birthday. NEA, in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, created NEA’s Read Across America Day in 1997 to promote the joy and importance of reading and to celebrate the birthday of beloved author Dr. Seuss. NEA’s Read Across America has grown into a year-round literacy program engaging more than 50 national partners and millions of children, teens, and adults.

Take part in this exciting celebration! Here are some ideas:

1. Take the Reader’s Oath

2. Visit your local library and read one of Dr. Seuss’ books

3. Make reading fun at home! Find great ideas on our Pinterest!

Read across america

Art Impact

The Arts leave a lasting mark on youth, inspiring self-expression, self-esteem, and critical and creative thinking. According to research by the John F. Kennedy Center, youth who regularly participate in arts programs tend to display more intellectual curiosity, experience higher levels of excitement from their school work, and apply more effort during their attempts to complete school projects and assignments. Parents of these youth noticed their children taking more risks, solving problems with ease, and respecting other people’s ideas and opinions. Students in the Kennedy Center’s Arts in Education Research Study were more confident, intellectually curious, and positively challenged citizens who may be better equipped to generate original ideas to improve their communities and contribute to a creative global economy.

To help nurture the potential of our youth, the Y offers a Y-Arts programs to help improve creative and tactical skills, learn to socialize and build relationships. The Y-Arts program can make all the difference for some children, keeping young minds creating and discovering.

Community member and parent to a former Y-Arts student, Rosanna Salcedo tells us “the Y-Arts program gave my child the freedom to express his creativity, and encouraged him to explore new forms of artistic expression, in a supportive environment. Thanks to Y-Arts, he has experience using a variety of materials and techniques.”

Learn more about Y-Arts! Registration is open for the next Y-Arts Session. Classes meet once a week from 4-5 pm for 6 weeks at the YMCA in Exeter, 30 Linden St. Each class costs $85 for 6 weeks. All classes are taught by local Exeter artist, Marissa Vitolo.

Y-Arts Session 2: Tuesday, March 10th – Thursday, April 16th

Tuesdays: Painting and Drawing

Thursdays: Hand building (clay)

Register today!

Fall in Love with Heart Health during American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month and as a leading voice on improving the nation’s health, the Southern District YMCA urges everyone in our community to take steps to make sure they are heart healthy so they can lead longer, healthier lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths each year in the United States. The Y offers community-based healthy living initiatives that support people in changing their lifestyles, and encourages organizations and communities to adopt behaviors that promote healthy living and promote the public’s health through advocacy.

To address the prevalence of heart disease, the Y has made a national commitment to the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes. As part of this commitment, the Y is developing a new national program that will help people with hypertension lower their blood pressure through coaching support and a proven self-monitoring practice. Research shows that the simple process of checking and recording your blood pressure at least twice a month over a four month period, along with regular physical activity, proper nutrition and reducing sodium intake, may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

Here are some tips on how to live heart healthy.

  1. Get Physical: Being physically active every day is fun and can improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play; for example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.
  1. Take a Snooze: Lack of sleep has been associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines for the whole family to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.
  1. Shape Up Those Recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food without sacrificing tastes. For example, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skip the seasoning packet and use pepper and olive oil instead. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package, select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.
  1. Feeling the Pressure: According to the American Heart Association, lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 3 adults (about 78 million people) has high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with you doctor.
  1. Play Together: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or build a snow fort together in the yard or the park.

Heart disease is critical issue for all New Hampshire residents and it’s never too late to get heart healthy!

WINTERFEST 2015 at YMCA Camp Lincoln

YMCA Camp Lincoln chose another perfect winter day to host WINTERFEST. More than 70 people braved the cold, with sleds and skates in hand, and made their way to the shores of Kingston Lake for sledding, ice skating, snow-angel making, and hot chocolate drinking and s’more eating by the campfire.

The skating was perfect; Camp Lincoln staff had shoveled a skating area and trails, but skaters discovered that they could skate through the light snow anyways. Conversation and laughter echoed across the lake.

How are you staying active with your family this winter? Here are some ideas for creative ways to stay active and healthy this winter.

Thanks to all who joined us for a fun WINTERFEST at YMCA Camp Lincoln! Check out photos from WINTERFEST on Facebook.

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Local Couple Recognized for 26 Years of Teen Leadership

Southern District YMCA is thrilled to announce the 2014 Volunteer of the Year. This year, the honor recognizes and celebrates the extraordinary service of two people who are nurturing youth leadership: Helen and Kevin Joyce.

For 26 years, the Joyces have served as advisors to high school delegations to YMCA Youth and Government in New Hampshire. During this time, they have advised, mentored and inspired high school students to be engaged in the democratic process.

In a surprise presentation on December 7, Kimberly Meyer, Director of Community Operations for Southern District YMCA, recognized their contribution in the lives of close to 10,000 youth during their volunteer leadership.

Deb Clark Valentine, retired director of YMCA Youth and Government in New Hampshire, sent her remarks, “Through your own careers as educators and respective roles as history teachers, department heads, guidance counselor and assistant principal … you never wavered from the importance of making sure every generation of teen leaders understand the importance of respectful debate, the role democracy plays in our lives and, of course, the importance of developing their leadership capacity in order to serve.”

YMCA Youth and Government inspires teens to understand the importance of civil service and public engagement. Each year – for more than 60 years – 300 teens from 30 schools have come together in the New Hampshire State House to experience the theory and practice of determining public policy and the principles of democracy. Through hands-on collaborative action, the students learn the importance of moral courage in solving public questions, the significance of the freedoms set forth in the Bill of Rights and in state and federal constitutions, and the value of an honest difference of opinion, with freedom to express it, as a healthy medium in which to attain personal dignity.

Volunteers – such as the Joyces – are the cornerstone of the YMCA and are vital in delivering youth development, healthy living and social responsibility within the community. Through our volunteers’ valuable and selfless commitment to living a cause-driven life, Southern District YMCA is able to deliver much needed community services with high-quality efficient programs. Because of the contributions of volunteers, Southern District YMCA is accessible to all, having never turned away anyone for their inability to pay.

Volunteer of the Year Helen Joyce (not pictured Kevin Joyce); Rob McGregor, Southern District YMCA Executive Director; and Kimberly Meyer, Southern District YMCA Director of Community Operations

Volunteer of the Year Helen Joyce (not pictured Kevin Joyce); Rob McGregor, Southern District YMCA Executive Director; and Kimberly Meyer, Southern District YMCA Director of Community Operations

Boost Your Immune System Naturally

Winter is coming, and so are the cold and flu germs that love hanging out with your family indoors. There are always a lot of suggestions for staying healthy; we love this chart that explains the best ways to boost your immune system naturally.

top-10-immunity-boosters

The most nourishing foods are fresh, and haven’t traveled far. You can find all sorts of local fruits and vegetables, including immune boosting onions and garlic, at your local Farmers Market this winter. Make sure to spend time outside every day. Outdoor activity is so important for your healthy and happiness! Here are some fun ideas for staying active outside in the winter.

Mark your calendars for the YMCA’s annual Winterfest; a fun outdoor event that celebrates all that a New England winter has to offer! Join us January 10, 10 am – 12 pm at YMCA Camp Lincoln!

Naturally Curious in October

October is a sensory month in New Hampshire; the summer has ended and hints of cooler weather remind us that winter is on its way. There is a flurry of natural activity! Let’s take a look.

Look up! Approximately 500 species of land birds leave their northern breeding ground for southern wintering grounds every year. Migratory flocks of birds travel during the day and at night. Night fliers call back and forth to one another to maintain contact. Listen — do you hear them?

Look down! Wooly bears are on a mission to find their winter shelters, and Eastern chipmunks are busily collecting nuts and seeds to store for winter. Chipmunks collect and transport their winter food supply in two large cheek pockets. Watch — do you see them?

Listen! The woodlands are alive with the dropping of deciduous tree leaves and the dispersal of many seeds. Plants rely on wind, water, animals, and gravity to distribute their seeds to distant locations. Some plants grow all over the world because the wind does such a good job of moving their seeds. Can you feel the wind?

Tamias_striatus_CT

Mary Holland’s book Naturally Curious is a month-by-month journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England; a truly phenomenal resource for nature education. Check out her blog: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland.