tot swim group

Time to “Waterproof” Lynchburg Area Kids through YMCA of Central Virginia Swim Programs

Programs offer a mix of fun, physical activity and safety to create a lifelong love of swimming

Lynchburg VA – As the season turns from winter to spring, the YMCA of Central Virginia encourages children and parents in the central Virginia region to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind. In Y swim programs, participants can enjoy water sports, enhance or learn new techniques, meet new friends and develop confidence, while also learning safety skills that can save lives. 

“It’s never too early to get children involved in swimming—it’s an important for safety reasons, but also a great way to keep active and healthy,” said Josh Gravette, Association Aquatics Director, YMCA of Central Virginia. “There are so many options for parents, but the best place to start is by learning basic water safety skills that helps get kids familiar with the water that often continues with swim lessons and competitive swim programs and can even lead to a career.”

As part of National Water Safety Month in May, the local YMCA encourages parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming—beginning with water safety. Following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:

  • Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone.
  • Adults should constantly and actively watch their children.
  • Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. 
  • Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach.
  • Children and adults should not engage in breath holding activities.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, swimming is a great way to increase physical activity. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing.

As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, the Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for more than 100 years. The YMCA of Central Virginia continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose, including group swim lessons, private swim lessons, infant and toddler swim lessons, family swim, and competitive swim team. To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, donor supported financial assistance is available.

To learn more about the YMCA of Central Virginia’s swim programs, please contact on of the Y’s three convenient locations or you can visit them online at  

Click here to learn more about upcoming swim programs


9th Annual Storming of Thunder Ridge to Benefit YMCA of Central Virginiastorming of thunder ridge

– Proceeds Support 160-Year Tradition of Offering Services to All Community Members –

LYNCHBURG, Va., February 9, 2018 – The 9th annual Storming of Thunder Ridge will take place on Sunday, May 20, 2018, benefitting the YMCA of Central Virginia’s Annual Fund. The fundraiser supports its continued mission of providing services to people of all ages, faiths, backgrounds and income levels ­­– while also serving as a community-wide event celebrating the region’s cycling enthusiasts.

“We’re thrilled to once again bring the Storming of Thunder Ridge to Lynchburg and look forward to another year of supporting and honoring the mission of the YMCA,” said Paula Dahl, Storming of Thunder Ridge Director. “The outpouring of support generated by this event every year is overwhelming, and we’re incredibly grateful to our riders, sponsors and volunteers for ensuring its success.”

The Storming of Thunder Ridge is Lynchburg’s only local, fully supported road cycling event, featuring ride options of 27, 45, 47, 75 and 100 miles – all with the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains serving as the backdrop. The start and finish for the 2018 ride will be the Jamerson Family YMCA, with this year’s fundraiser offering riders the opportunity to camp in the gymnasium or on the soccer fields Saturday night. In addition, riders will enjoy such accommodations as shower facilities, whirlpool and swimming pools. A post-ride celebration will include food, drinks, prizes and more with friends and fellow riders.

Registration for the Storming of Thunder Ridge is $65 prior to May 1, $75 until 8:00 p.m. on May 19, and $85 the day of the event. Online registration will close at Noon on Friday, May 18. Riders registered by the May 1 early deadline are guaranteed a Storming of Thunder Ridge moisture wicking t-shirt.

The Storming of Thunder Ridge is only possible through the generosity of sponsors, with each donation helping to cover event expenses and ensuring that all funds raised will benefit the YMCA of Central Virginia’s Community Support Campaign. Tax-deductible sponsorships are offered on various levels – Bronze ($250), Silver ($500), Gold ($1,000 or greater) and Title ($2,500). Likewise, volunteers are essential to the success of the event, with assistance needed for rest stops, course monitoring, the post-ride party and other needs.

Registration for riders is available online, at Sponsorship and volunteer interest can be directed to the YMCA, at


23509425 1848534275158331 7776057584193160019 oThe Downtown YMCA is pleased to announce the launch of Yoga for Warriors, a trauma-sensitive yoga practice designed for US Military Veterans. This vital program, which was spearheaded by YMCA members and staff is led by Gary Sullivan, YMCA Group Fitness and Yoga Instructor who is certified in trauma sensitive yoga techniques.

The US Department of Veteran Affairs reports that 11%-20% of veterans are afflicted with PTSD or PTSD like symptoms after returning from military service. With close to 25,000 veterans residing in the Central Virginia Region, this is something that should not be ignored. Research shows that programs like Yoga for Warriors at the Downtown YMCA can help individuals build physical, mental and emotional stamina to overcome issues caused by combat or non-combat trauma experiences. In October of 2017, the Y piloted the program which served eight local men from our area.

The new session will begin on January 10th, 2018 with a group of 10 male veterans. Participants will receive three months of one on one instruction before their integration into the group classes at the Y. Both Y members and non Y members can participate in the program upon completion of program-specific screenings by the local Veterans Affairs Administration, and a Yoga Therapy Assessment that is conducted by the YMCA.

Steve Bozeman, Vice President of the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council, which includes volunteers from numerous non-profits, works closely with veterans in the area to ensure that they are receiving information regarding such programs. "This is such a great program for veterans needing this level of recovery assistance" expressed Bozeman. "Peer to peer engagement, which is offered in this program, is key in the healing process for many of these men and women."

Gary Sullivan is a professionally trained yoga instructor who specializes in trauma-sensitive yoga techniques, "Helping these men that have sacrificed so much for our country isn't optional, it's necessary. I hope that we can serve at least 40 veterans each year, expressed Sullivan. "We are gearing up to launch an additional class in the spring that is designed for female veterans. After what we have witnessed in the fall with the pilot program, we know that we can make great strides in improving the lives of our veterans as we move forward."

For more information contact Program Coordinator Gary Sullivan or contact the Downtown YMCA to complete the Request Form to sign up Veterans in our community.

Mayor Joan Foster is pictured above with Kathy Thomas, Downtown YMCA Wellness Director at the recent Veterans Parade at Liberty University


 DSC2834BOSTON (November 2017) – Evaluation results show Lynchburg, VA 1-3 grade students enrolled Power Scholars Academy at YMCA of Central VA powered by BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) gained 1 month in literacy skills and 3 months in math skills. Power Scholars Academy was launched in 2013 by the YMCA of the USA and BELL in collaboration with local YMCA associations and schools as an academic and enrichment program to prevent summer slide, which reverses achievement gains made during the school year. The Power Scholars Academy summer program at YMCA of Central VA blended rigorous literacy and math instruction with hands-on enrichment, social emotional development, and community engagement.

 "Research shows that youth from poverty stricken areas and under-resourced homes face extreme challenges over the summer months. These challenges have negative lasting effects on their ability make academic gains, and retain all that they learned the year before.  When a student falls behind their chances at graduating are decreased drastically, effectively setting them up for additional failures all the way into adulthood.  In order to stop this severe cycle of poverty that is sweeping across our community we must work together. At the YMCA of Central Virginia we we are ensuring these kids have the tools they need during the summer to be successful." Shared Susan Landergan, YMCA of Central Virginia CEO. “I have seen kids blossom, discover new talents, find a confidence they never knew they had and return to school ahead of their peers. We are increasing their odds for a better life, and setting them up on a path to success. That’s something the entire community can be proud of.” 

According to evaluation surveys, 90 percent of teachers reported an increase in the self-confidence of enrolled students, known as scholars and 87 percent of parents reported their children having a better ability to overcome challenges. The impact of Power Scholars Academy reverberated through their circles of support as well. Surveys show 80 percent of parents say they are more involved in their child’s education and 80 percent of educators say the program helped them improve their professional skills. 

An estimated 7.5 million K-8 students from underserved communities are performing significantly below grade level, and up to two-thirds of the academic achievement gap is due to lack of access to summer learning programs. To address this challenge, BELL partners with strong local organizations to design and deploy holistic, scalable summer and afterschool learning experiences utilizing BELL’s comprehensive evidence-based out-of-school-time education solution.

“These academic outcomes and survey results confirmed once again that increasing access to high-quality learning experiences beyond the school year helps students get ahead when they return to school in the fall,” says BELL CEO Dr. Lauren Sanchez Gilbert.

This summer, nearly 7,500 scholars participated in Power Scholars Academy programs in 91 sites in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

About BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)

Founded in 1992, BELL is a national leader in evidence-based summer learning and afterschool programs for PK-8 students that close the achievement gap in underserved communities. BELL partners with schools, school districts, and other youth-serving organizations to reach approximately 15,000 students across the country through its summer and afterschool programs. Visit for more information.

About the Y

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, which strengthens communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background, nurturing the potential of children and teens, improving the nation’s health and well-being, and providing opportunities to give back and support the community.  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.  Visit for more information.

Click here to join the cause and make a positive impact on local kids in our community


group swim lessonsLYNCHBURG-The YMCA of Central Virginia was recently awarded a grant of $10,500 by the YMCA of the USA for Safety Around Water, a swim initiative aimed at teaching life-saving swim techniques to youth ages 5-12 years old. This grant ensured 175 under-resourced youth would receive life-saving swim instruction free of charge.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of death in children under 15 years old. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.

The Safety Around Water program is designed to reduce the risk of drowning and drowning injuries in our youth, giving the participants the tools and resources needed to be safe in and around water. Thanks to the generous grant awarded by the YMCA of the USA, the YMCA of Central Virginia was able to help bridge the gap in the delivery of swim lessons and water safety education in our local communities.

“We’re trying to break the repeated pattern of children not learning or knowing how to swim,” says Josh Gravette, the Association Director of Aquatics for the YMCA of Central Virginia. “This grant allows us to go into our local communities with the commitment to reduce local drowning rates. We are providing transportation and pool access for kids who wouldn’t have these experiences otherwise.”

The swim lessons are geared toward populations that are statistically at a higher risk of drowning. Through unique relationships with local partnering agencies such as Lynchburg City Schools, the Boys and Girls Club, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the local Y was able to spearhead this program, which strengthened the lives of 175 local youth. Participants were identified by school counselors, and partner agencies as kids that were at high risk due to lack of resources. This number is in addition to the already 900 local youth that received financial assistance for swim lessons over the last year.

“Strengthening our community and providing access to all is at the heart of our Y. We desire for everyone to have the tools they need to be successful,” shared Susan Landergan, YMCA of Central Virginia CEO. “When a child achieves something like learning how to swim, doors that they didn’t know existed open for them due to increased self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment. We are not only helping kids stay safe, we are setting them up for future successes.”

“Learning to swim and safety around water is a life skill," Gravette said. “We hope to see Safety Around Water grow through additional partnerships and local donors so that we can continue to provide this vital program to additional youth that are in need. We really want to make sure all of our kids are as safe as possible.”

For more information about partnering with the Y, or giving to this program, you can contact the YMCA of Central Virginia at 434.582.1900 or 434.847.5597.


434-582-1900 (Jamerson) 434-847-5597 (Downtown) 434-455-5996 (Express) 434-200-7097 (Bowen Wellness Center)


YMCA Exterior WEB 3801 Wyndhurst Drive

Lynchburg, VA 24502 

(434) 582-1900


YMCA Exterior WEB 91315 Church Street

Lynchburg, VA 24504 

(434) 847-5597


YMCA Exterior WEB 13408 Old Forest Road

Lynchburg, VA 24501 

(434) 455-5996


Feel free to reach out to one of our directors for questions, concerns, or other feedback.




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