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YMCA To Expand Outdoor Youth Development Opportunities

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YMCA expands outdoor adventure excursion program to broaden reach to diverse youth in grades 6-12

CHICAGO, May 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), the national resource office for the nation's YMCAs, has received a $500,000 grant to provide more youth in grades 6-12 with outdoor development opportunities through the expansion of the BOLD (Boys Outdoor Leadership Development) and GOLD (Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) programs.

The BOLD and GOLD programs are designed to get youth outdoors, help them build healthier lifestyles and create an appreciation for nature and ecological interdependence. Created by the YMCA of Greater Seattle in 2006 with a pilot expedition of five students, the program has expanded to serve more than 400 students on 48 different expeditions ranging from two-day snowshoeing trips to 14-day mountaineering odysseys.

The grant to Y-USA was made possible by the REI Foundation, the McKibben Merner Family Foundation, the Youth Outdoor Legacy Fund, and private donors: Matt Hyde and Lisa Beaudreau, and Doug and Maggie Walker. This funding will help to expand the program to six additional Ys over three years, with the goal of serving an additional 750 young people.

"We've seen first-hand the positive impact the BOLD/GOLD program has had on the teens and know the strength of the relationship between BOLD/GOLD youth and volunteer participants," stated Matt Hyde, Y-USA Board member and Executive Vice President for REI.  "With the leadership and resources of Y-USA in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Seattle, we see this program as an ideal model to share and expand to other qualified Ys. I am proud and excited to support it."

Added Neil Nicoll, President and CEO of Y-USA: "Programs like BOLD/GOLD help the Y provide so many of the assets kids need to become successful adults, such as a sense of belonging, supportive relationships with adults, opportunities to enhance decision-making and leadership skills, and a sense of safety.  We are grateful to all of the foundations and individual donors who made this grant possible.  Because of their generosity, we can connect hundreds of boys and girls to the great outdoors so they can learn, grow and thrive - both in nature and in life."

A primary goal of BOLD/GOLD is to reduce and remove barriers for all youth and teens, regardless of socio-economic status, to organized trips and outings, access to to the outdoors, outdoor physical activities, and basic outdoor environmental education.

According to Andrew Jay, director of the program for the YMCA of Greater Seattle, BOLD/GOLD grew out of the YMCA of Greater Seattle's afterschool leadership clubs at local YMCA branches and middle schools.   "In 2006 we offered a backpacking expedition to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and it proved so popular that demand and interest kept growing. By 2010, we were offering more than 30 backpacking, rock climbing and mountaineering expeditions involving more than 300 youth."

He added: "BOLD/GOLD serves a very unique population of youth from a wide variety of economic, ethic, religious and social backgrounds. This intentional mix of participants creates opportunities for students from different backgrounds to experience shared, challenging outdoor activities while learning how to build team leadership skills as well as self-confidence and self-awareness."

Y-USA, along with BOLD/GOLD program leadership at the YMCA of Greater Seattle, will work together to expand the BOLD/GOLD program nationally in three phases over three years.  For more information, contact YMCA.net.

About the Y
The Y is one of the nation's leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation's health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. ymca.net 

About REI
The REI Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The Foundation's mission is to ensure    that tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America. Recognizing that most people with a love of the outdoors discover the natural world early in their life, the Foundation's primary efforts are in encouraging active outdoor participation by young people and their families. rei.com/reigives

CONTACT:
Diane Hurles
YMCA of the USA
312-419-8374
Diane.Hurles@ymca.net

SOURCE YMCA of the USA



RELATED LINKS
http://www.ymca.net

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