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Niya signed up for a leadership camp at YMCA and now uses those skills as a YMCA camp counsellor.

The YMCA has been helping Canadians improve their lives since it first opened in Montreal in 1851. In the years that followed, it evolved to meet the changing needs of society – but what hasn't changed is its commitment to creating centres of community, where everyone can work towards reaching their goals in a safe and supportive environment.

The many programs and services the YMCA offers underpin its purpose to improve the health and well-being of Canadians in spirit, mind and body. In 1,700 program locations across the country, the YMCA is helping Canadians be healthier. Many people who have benefited from the programs credit the organization with helping them reach milestones in their lives.

When Niya found herself confused about her future, coasting at school and working at a part-time job she didn't like, a counsellor suggested the Grade 11 student sign up for a leadership program at the YMCA.

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At the end of the program, where she learned about teamwork, problem solving and getting involved in the community, she was voted valedictorian. The skills she gained during the program have enabled her to find her direction and make plans to attend college. She also used those skills to become a YMCA camp counsellor, making sure kids found the same supportive environment she did.

Ten-year-old James also credits the YMCA with helping him overcome challenges at school, where he was being bullied and having a hard time making friends. After attending a YMCA camp, James told his mother: "Everyone is so encouraging. It's so much fun. The counsellors make me feel like I can do anything. They teach me how to solve problems with fun activities. And that helped me make some great friends."

The sense of well-being and belonging both these young people found at the YMCA illustrate the organization's programs at work, supporting the social, mental, physical and emotional well-being of Canadians of all ages, building healthy communities across the country.

As a diverse and inclusive charity, the YMCA is committed to ensuring access to everyone who wants to participate. It's thanks to the many dedicated community volunteers and generous donors across the country that the YMCA is able to provide opportunities for all to lead active, healthy lives.

This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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