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LETTER: Wellness equals community

It may surprise some exactly what 'community' looks 2018 in as it relates to wellness success
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GuelphToday received the following letter to the editor from YMCA - YWCA of Guelph CEO Geoff Vogt in regards to the importance of wellness in the community: 

During the recent municipal election, we heard a lot about building sustainable communities and the importance of investing in health and wellness programs that have real impact on users and are delivered in the most cost-effective way possible.

As one of the longest-serving wellness organizations in our community and as the largest child care provider in Guelph/Wellington with programs that help 25 per cent of all Guelph, the Guelph Y could not agree more that strategic investment in the right services is good for individuals, families and the physical and financial health of our community.

At the Guelph Y, we believe that wellness is a positive balance of physical, emotional, mental and social health.

And while that may sound like a tall order, our learning after 125 years of leadership in Guelph and Wellington is that wellness is a very achievable goal, provided it starts with one key component: community. The equation for personal and collective health is quite simple: wellness equals community.

I have had the pleasure of working in the Y movement for over 10 years and no matter where I travel in Canada and across North America to see Y programs in action, the most successful, accessible, and cost-efficient wellness programs have been grounded in, and built by, community.

It may surprise some exactly what 'community' looks 2018 in as it relates to wellness success. Gone are the days when programming was based on what felt right and lacked accountable and clear goals.

Today, effective and cost-efficient wellness programs are hyper-focused on the needs of the end user. Successful wellness leaders have the courage to collaborate with others and share leadership and responsibility to ensure program success.

Wellness programs can prove they save and change lives because they are carefully managed and are measured against clear client and financial targets.

Many in Guelph know the Y for our modern facility just off the Hanlon. And while it is a great facility that you should come and check out in person (send me a note at for a free one-day pass!), we like to think that the Y is a builder, not just a building.

Our commitment to leveraging community to grow wellness for everyone flows from our 20 facilities in Guelph and Wellington and can be found soaking into all our activities and programs (literally, with our amazing aquatic programs serving youth, families and seniors).

Understanding that wellness is the cornerstone for a happy, safe and strong community our team at the Y has the courage, vision and determination to experiment and constantly evolve how we bring wellness programming to our clients and strong fiscal management to our funders. Of course, that cornerstone is built through dozens of community partnerships with other like-minded organizations.

Our passionate team of 375 staff and 115 volunteers know that welcoming and inclusive spaces reduce isolation, support personal growth and empower youth, adults and seniors (OK, everyone!) to live healthy and more wellness-filled lives.

We also know that in addition to making those lives better, modern and best practice wellness programming directly reduces the burdens on our health care system. It turns out that not only does wellness equal community but it also equals a smart investment in citizens and the systems that serve them.

We are excited about the role that the Guelph Y plays in bringing wellness to our community. I hope you will join us as we begin to share our passion for community wellness and will be part of some exciting conversations we have planned for 2019.

~ Geoff Vogt is the CEO of the YMCA - YWCA of Guelph