YMCA Encourages Social Connections to Combat Isolation

Members of the West Chester Area YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, find community and connection on the indoor pickleball courts.

YMCA builds community and connection through programs for Families, Seniors, those facing medical challenges and more.

(West Chester, PA) -- With the holiday season quickly approaching, the YMCA stresses the importance of social connections in the health of our community. The need to combat isolation and loneliness has never been more clear. Just last year the U.S. Surgeon General named it as a nationwide epidemic, noting negative impacts to mental health and increased risks of heart disease, stroke, dementia and premature death.

A recent study found that in the United States one in three adults over the age of 45 report feeling lonely. It is important to note that loneliness is a feeling of being alone or disconnected and that it doesn’t necessarily equate to physically being alone.

“For many of us, the holidays can be a hectic time filled with friends, family and activities – but it is also a great time to check in on friends, family, neighbors and colleagues who may be feeling lonely or disconnected,” Terri Edgar, VP of Operations for the YMCA of Greater Brandywine.

Individuals at a higher risk for loneliness tend to be young adults, older adults, individuals who live alone, people with chronic diseases or disabilities, immigrants, lower-income adults and those who identify as LGBTQIA+ but the reality is that everyone can be affected.

“While the challenges may be big, we can all take small steps to help that can make a huge impact for another person,” Edgar says. Those looking for community should look no further than the Y.

Building Community at the YMCA
The YMCA fosters connections and promotes overall well-being in communities through programming, events and more. If you are looking to join a supportive community, below are just a few ways to find your tribe at the Y.

  1.  ForeverWell for Seniors – The YMCA offers a variety of classes and activities for members ages 55+. From book clubs to fitness classes and monthly field trips, the Y provides a supportive community where seniors can stay active and connected. 
  2. Adaptive Programs – The Y strives to give all a chance to participate and discover their passions. That’s why they offer Adaptive Programs for children and adults with developmental delays and disabilities. Adaptive curriculum is adapted to meet their needs and to give them a chance to learn, grow and thrive. Offerings include Pickleball, Dance, Gymnastics and more. 
  3. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA – Developed in partnership with researchers from Yale University and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, LIVESTRONG is a free 12-week program that teaches healing wellness practices to cancer survivors and includes a free 12-week YMCA membership for the entire family. Facing a cancer diagnosis impacts the whole family – and can be very isolating. The Y serves as a space for healing and connection. 
  4. Support for Parents - The YMCA offers family-friendly programs and events that encourage parents and children to spend quality time together and meet other families. And, when parents need a break, Parents Night Out and Respite Recreation events give parents the chance to have a night on the town while YMCA staff take care of the kiddos.  
  5. And More – The YMCA serves as a hub for community activities, programs and volunteerism that allow individuals and families to come together, participate in group activities, and form lasting relationships. 

Expanding Access to Social Connections in 2024
As 2024 approaches, the YMCA seeks to widen connections across Chester County to better support all in our Chester County. The YMCA plans to assess the needs of Chester County residents to determine how to expand services to better meet needs locally – both inside and outside of the YMCA’s doors.

To join the Y in their mission, you are encouraged to volunteer or donate.   

To Donate:  https://ymcagbw.org/give
To Volunteer: https://ymcagbw.org/give/volunteer