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.
Image via YMCA of Greater Brandywine.
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 Greater Brandywine logo

With a busy year ahead, 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 a nationwide epidemic, noting negative impacts on 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, [day-to-day life] can be a hectic time filled with friends, family, and activities — but [it’s important to] check in on friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues who may be feeling lonely or disconnected,” said 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 said. 

Building Community at the YMCA 

The YMCA fosters connections and promotes community well-being through programming, events, and more. If you want to join a supportive community, below are a few ways to find your tribe at the Y: 

  • 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. 
  • Adaptive Programs: The Y strives to give all a chance to participate and discover their passions by offering adaptive programs for children and adults with developmental delays and disabilities. The Adaptive curriculum is suited to meet their needs and to give them a chance to learn, grow, and thrive. Offerings include pickleball, dance, gymnastics, and more.  
  • 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.  
  • Support for Parents: The YMCA offers family-friendly programs and events encouraging 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.   

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. 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.  

Learn more about how to join the Y in their mission and how you can volunteer and donate and how the YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW), an association of nine YMCAs and Program Centers serving Chester County, is a leading non-profit organization committed to building community.

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