President's Message

Monday, February 12, 2024

Hello Friends,

February is an important month as we celebrate Black History and American Heart Month. Did you know that Black History Month had its beginnings at the YMCA? In 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a University of Chicago alumnus, arrived in Chicago to attend a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of Illinois. “Inspired by this three-week celebration where thousands of African Americans had traveled from across the country to see exhibits that highlighted the progress of their people since the end of slavery, Woodson met at the Wabash Avenue YMCA in Chicago with a small group and formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). This began the foundation that would create Negro History and Literature Week, renamed Negro Achievement Week, later Negro History Week and eventually Black History Month.”

“Known as the ‘Father of Black History,’ Woodson wanted the study of past Black life to have a significant impact noting, ‘We are going back to that beautiful history, and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements.’ It is important to note that the focus of Black History Month has been on Black achievements since enslavement in the US, however, Woodson intended to explore modern Black history as a starting point to deeper exploration beyond the arrival of enslaved Africans in the Americas.”

Continuing with the theme of achievements in this issue, as we highlight American Heart Month, you will meet Jenny Rothman, our inspiring Plant City Y member. She has lost over 130 pounds since last August and is a model of healthy living. You can read her complete story here. Thank you for inspiring us, Jenny.

From exercising and eating well to regular sleep and maintaining healthy blood pressure, there are many things you can do to keep your heart strong. Use this month to get a blood pressure screening and find simple ways to keep your heart healthy. The YMCA recommends trying these five tips with your whole family this February:

  • Get moving: Being physically active every day is not only fun, but it can also 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.
  • Rest up: Lack of sleep can be 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.
  • Revamp your 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, try using low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream; skip the seasoning packet and use pepper and olive oil instead in your favorite dishes. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package and select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Check your pressure: Revised blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association mean that nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) have high blood pressure. Lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with your doctor if needed.
  • Quality time: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade healthy treats or play a game of catch in the yard or the park.

And finally, on the topic of heart, we have just launched the Community portion of our Annual Campaign. We are looking to our community’s generous hearts to support our YMCA to empower everyone to live their healthiest and most fulfilled life. Your generosity truly helps our Tampa community thrive. By removing financial barriers, we are fulfilling our mission to make the Y available to ALL – because 100% of your contributions go back into the community. The Annual Campaign makes it possible for children, families, seniors, neighbors and others to benefit from Y programs and memberships, regardless of their financial circumstances. Follow this link to support your local Y to Give

With appreciation,

Matt Mitchell
President & CEO