Digging in at the YMCA


2014 marks the 5th year I’ve photographed for the YMCA’s We Build People Campaign. Each year, I take pride in helping to tell the stories of learning and improvement through my lens. Here’s a glimpse of the stories we told this year.

Photography: Natalia Weedy / Stories Written By: Andy Tennille


Twila found her firm ground at the Y when her life seemed most fragile-after a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Twila joined LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, the 12-week health and fitness program designed to put cancer survivors back on track to long-term health and fitness. LIVESTRONG gave Twila the chance to heal outside of a medical setting. She found a supportive environment of fellow survivors and Y staff. Today she gives back by volunteering with the program.


From his beginning as a young child participating in Y learning and after school programs to his current role as a counselor, the YMCA gave Leo the opportunity to grow and thrive. "There are a lot of people at the Y that have changed my life and helped me out," says Leo. "the Y is part of my family."


Last summer, Kathy, a single parent of a child with autism, thought she had exhausted all affordable child care options for her daughter, Lexi. Kathy saw the importance of the Y in Lexi's life firsthand while she was at Y summer camp. "Lexi was sitting in the bleachers with a group of kids, and there was this little boy sitting next to her. They were elbowing each other, giggling and laughing," Kathy recalls. "I broke down crying. I'd never seen her have an interaction like that with a typical child."