Y StoriesYCANYMCA Youth Programs

Young leaders from the YMCA Community Action Network thank frontline workers with special service project

29 June 2020 - by ymcablog
Version Française 

The YMCA Community Action Network (YCAN) gives youth a platform so they can lead service projects that make a real difference in their local communities. Over the past several months, YCAN groups across the country have pivoted to meet new needs emerging in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The group at the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka exemplifies the compassion and commitment to community that’s at the heart of YCAN. Here is their story:

Months ago, our group was excitedly planning a two-pronged service project for August 2020. We had booked a booth at the annual Alliston Potato Festival, where we were going to collect donations to our local food bank. Food security is an important issue for our group, so we wanted to do something tangible to support our community members who don’t have reliable access to food.

Another issue that’s important to us is mental health. Unfortunately, in the Alliston area, there’s a shortage of education about and resources to help support mental health. So we reached out to the Krasman Centre, a not-for-profit that provides education, resources, and one-on-one mental health support. They were excited to partner with us so that we could give something back to all the people who would be dropping off non-perishables at our booth. We made our very own pamphlet with mental health resources to hand out, and we also designed special glow-in-the-dark bracelets that read “L;fe.” The semi-colon is a symbol of survival. For those suffering with mental health issues, suicidal ideations, and self-harm, it can be an inspiring reminder of endurance. For more information about Project Semicolon, please visit https://projectsemicolon.com. We thought the bracelets made for a striking visual that would spark a conversation.

In March, as the COVID-19 crisis escalated, we quickly realized our service project had to change. Our community needed help now; we couldn’t wait until August.

One of the biggest needs we saw was support for the frontline workers whose dedication and bravery were helping the rest of us stay safe and healthy. We wanted to show our gratitude for their tireless commitment and, coupled with some hand-made “thank you” cards, our bracelets seemed like the perfect token of our appreciation. Their glow reminds wearers that they are a light in the darkness of this crisis, and that semi-colon is a reminder of their determination and perseverance during this difficult time.

We also realized that we could reach far beyond Alliston and show frontline workers in many different communities our support. Hospital foundations in Orillia, Huntsville, Bracebridge, and Barrie have helped us get our bracelets and cards into the hands of their frontline workers.

We’re so proud to be part of a network of change-makers like these young leaders from the Simcoe/Muskoka YCAN group. Thank you for your compassion and hard work! If you’re feeling inspired and want to get involved with any of our 17 YCAN groups across Canada, check out our website.

Staff holding cards Staff holding a heart Hospital staff


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