My Family Thrives at the Y

“My sons, Logan and Eli, and I joined the Y in June of 2011. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and both of my sons have Autism. They’ve had great experiences at the Akron Rotary Camp, where they were first intro- duced to Y staff,” said Gwnell. “I participate in the Silver Sneakers® and Zumba classes at the Firestone Park YMCA. They've both been amazing ways to get moving, have fun and improve my health!”

Gwnell's sons learned to swim at the Y, and they enjoy swimming together as a family. It's a great form of exercise and a way for her sons to interact with their peers.

“It helps me to be on an even physical level with them. Eli is a runner and I have a hard time keeping up with him," Gwnell continued. "In the pool, we can stay together as a family without the fear of him running off."

Gwnell and her family never feel judged at any of the local Ys. The staff makes them feel comfortable and truly welcome — giving each of them an “I can do this” feeling. Gwnell recommends the Y to everyone she meets! She gives kudos to the Y staff for the wonderful job they do on a daily basis.

“Because of the Y, we are much stronger as a family. Having a safe environment of Christian principles where both children and adults can have fun, grow and be themselves is wonderful. Without the Y, I am not sure where my children and I would be.”

Like Gwnell and her sons, survey respondents from the Akron Area YMCA’s Health & Wellness programs reported the following benefits:

96% experience improved self-esteem.
97% experience improved physical health.
97% enjoy social interaction with others.

Teresa Finds Love & Support at the Y

In search of a sanctuary from the busy, stressful world, Teresa Snyder Pulizzi found the Firestone Park YMCA around 20 years ago.

“Then, the Y was a great place for me to connect with caring people and enjoy exercise. Little did I know how much more the Y would come to mean,” Said Teresa. “When my husband passed away and I was diagnosed with cancer, the Y transformed to meet my needs. They gave me a scholarship to ease my financial burden, the staff reminds me of my medical appointments, and the emotional and spiritual support I receive from the Y staff and members is a true blessing!”

In the coming months, Teresa will undergo her fifteenth surgery. The cancer is in remission! Doctors say her perseverance and positive attitude are a credit to the physical activity and support she gets at the Y. In Teresa’s words, “Feeling loved and welcome at the Y makes all the difference! I attribute my outcome to faith, family, friends and the Y. ”

Like Teresa, survey respondents from Akron Area YMCA healthy living programs report the following benefits:

98% say their spirit, mind & body were positively impacted.
96% experienced improved mental health. 
97% enjoyed social interaction with staff/other participants.

Part of A Community

Eighteen-year-old Aaron Abernathy has gone through some tough times. He was enrolled at the University of Akron, but the financial hardships that he and his mother faced forced him to dropout and look for work. Last year, Aaron was caught shoplifting.

“I don’t think of myself as a bad kid. I wasn’t raised as one,” said Aaron, but admits that he made a mistake. However, those types of mistakes and choices are now a part of the past for Aaron.

Now, Aaron comes to the Firestone Park YMCA nearly every day. Aaron lifts weights, plays basketball, and, perhaps most importantly, interacts with fellow members and the staff — enjoying the community atmosphere he didn’t get in other places.

“I’ve been coming to the Y for a while now. I would say it is a vital part of my life,” Aaron continued.

Being a member at the Y has benefitted Aaron in many ways. He is able to interact with the people in the community and receives life lessons and sage advice from older members. Aaron now has two jobs, hopes to get back to school soon, and is setting goals for himself.

“I gain confidence and feel better about myself from working out. The Y is more than just a gym and a workout room. I‘m very thankful for the Firestone Park YMCA!”

Like Aaron, survey respondents from the Akron Area YMCA Health & Wellness programs reported the following benefits:

97% enjoyed social interaction with staff and other participants.
97% reported their spirit, mind and body were positively impacted.
96% experienced improved self-esteem.

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Contact Information

Firestone Park YMCA
350 E. Wilbeth Road
Akron, Ohio 44301
(330) 724-1255