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YMCA of Bucks County staff provide community resources during pandemic

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The mantra for YMCA of Bucks County is “Here for You” and during this time of social distancing and self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Y is taking this promise seriously.

All branches of YMCA of Bucks County closed on March 14 with a plan to create an online library to help the community continue to stay healthy and active. The webpages found at ymcabucks.org/online are filled with at-home videos from Y staff, including pages aimed at supporting all age levels and topics including at-home fitness, youth physical activities, youth crafts, cooking & learning, nutrition, stress management & mindfulness, and a Women’s Book Club Zoom.

Staff immediately jumped into action, filming videos in a variety of ways. Andrew Yannarella, longtime and beloved sports director at the Doylestown branch, filmed sport technique videos in his driveway, with drills and tips for basketball dribbling and stance correction and baseball throwing techniques.

Megan McCuen, fitness instructor at the Quakertown branch, focused immediately on the senior population, filming full length versions of Y classes including Chair Movement and Movement for Life. She continues to film workouts in her home using stairs, resistance bands and utilizing outdoor spaces.

In Lower Bucks County, Angela Cloak, who oversees child care for the entire county, mobilized teachers to create videos on a variety of topics including reading stories, science experiments, making homemade salt-dough, cooking instructionals and a hand-washing video by Cloak herself.

“Needs and resources for healthy living and wellness, mental health, and financial hardship are all facing our Y family,” said Zane Moore, president/CEO of YMCA of Bucks County in a recent communication to Y members. “It is our goal to continue to serve during a time when social distancing is required.”

In addition to serving the community and connecting people, Y staff are finding an unexpected side effect with the creation of online content in the involvement of their immediate families.

Cathy Spatz, a longtime yoga instructor at the Y’s Doylestown branch was doubtful that she could speak to mindfulness in video format – until she involved Peter, her 14-year-old son.

“Twenty-four hours ago I didn’t think I could do anything like the video I’m sending you,” said Spatz. “But thanks to the skills of my son, here is a Mindful Minute.”

The result is a high-quality, sleek and artsy two-minute video on morning mindfulness, using your favorite morning drink. The video can be found in the Y’s online library on the Stress Management and Mindfulness page. Spatz hopes to continue to contribute new editions to the mindfulness page often.

The library took a few days to create and promotion began recently, featuring different instructors on social media throughout the day. On Thursday, a video featuring Sandy Gatto was highlighted with longtime, weekly class attendees immediately elated and commenting via social media.

Gatto also narrates a video of her teenage children, fellow Y staff members, leading an outdoor workout for kids. That video can be found in the Youth & Family Activities page in the Y’s online library.

“We’re in this together,” said Trish Feinthel, chief operations officer. “Everyone is pitching in to do what we can to spread a little joy and online connection with each other.”

Passionate about the power of reading, a Women’s Book Club Zoom will be led by Feinthel herself. Interested participants can sign up for the Zoom link, found on the Women’s Book Club page in the Y’s online library. The club already has 20 participants.

The website will be continuously updated and is available to the entire community. YMCA of Bucks County invites all members and the greater community to join its Move. Learn. Engage. Challenge to stay active, learn new skills, and enjoy family fun activities. Details on the community challenge can be found at ymcabucks.org/BUCKSchallenge. As part of the challenge and online website launch, the Y encourages the community to post their workouts and activities online using the hashtag #BucksCountySTRONG.

“If there’s a silver lining to this situation,” said Moore. “It’s that our staff have come together in this moment of crisis, continuing to live the Y mission and serve our community with their families. I am so proud of this team.”


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