Our story begins 40 years ago. It all started with a couple of visionary community members, Linda & David Cline, who felt our community would be a better place with a YMCA as part of it. They gathered a like-minded group of people and together the Kelowna Community YMCA-YWCA was established in December 1981 as a legally independent charitable organization. This charity’s first project was operating the newly opened Athans Aquatic Centre on behalf of the City of Kelowna.
As Kelowna has grown over the years, so have we. Today we’re a network of community-focused program sites and serve a vastly more diverse population of Central Okanagan families with ever-evolving needs.
Here is a timeline that represents our story—the many milestones, goals reached and programs delivered.
|1983||The Y began offering the summer Backyard Pool Program, where children learned to swim with confidence in their own pool.|
|1985||A full charter was awarded to the Kelowna Community YMCA–YWCA.|
|1990||The Y offered After School Programs in two Kelowna schools and one in Westbank, started a Job Finding Club and began operating the Children’s Water Park in downtown Kelowna.|
|1991||The Y started to operate Summer Day Camps in Rutland and Winfield.|
|1997||Marked the opening of our Career Contact Centre for Youth (C3) in Kelowna.|
|2001||The Y entered a partnership with the City to manage the Kelowna Family Y and expand it by 5,000 square feet.|
|2002||The Kelowna Family Y participates in CAP program funded by Industry Canada to provide internet access to the general public.|
|2004||YMCA-YWCA of the Central Okanagan reaches 2,500 memberships. The Y includes new parenting programs – Pre-natal Wellness and Pre-teen Parenting.|
|2007||The Y expanded childcare programs into three new elementary schools; implemented Coach Approach; and, the Y’s Strong Kids Campaign raised $68,000!|
|2008||The Y signed agreements with the City of Kelowna to manage the new Mission Aquatic Centre and with Okanagan College to operate a childcare centre; further developed our expansion plan for the Kelowna Family Y; and launched Jumpstart Employment Essentials, a program for youth-at-risk who are experiencing multiple barriers to employment.|
|2009||H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre officially opened to the public in April and Little Scholars YMCA Playing to Learn Childcare and Preschool Centre began serving families in September. By the end of 2009, the Kelowna Family Y Capital Expansion Campaign raised $4M towards the $5M goal.|
|2010||Surpassed our goal and raised $5.7M to expand the Kelowna Family Y to include a gymnasium, a run/walking track, a youth zone, child & family resource centre and additional fitness space.|
|2011||Opened 18,000 square foot expansion of Kelowna Family YMCA in July. Entered into an agreement with the Silver Lake Forest Education Society to manage year-round operations and child/youth camp programs at Silver Lake Camp. The YMCA-YWCA Career Contact Centre for Youth closed its doors after serving the community since 1997.|
|2012||Three WorkBC Centres operated by the YMCA opened in April to serve over 3,000 people annually. The YMCA-YWCA of the Central Okanagan changed it’s name to YMCA of Okanagan to focus on the YMCA’s mission to build a healthy community for all ages, genders, beliefs and circumstances.|
|2013||28,323 children, teens, adults and seniors were served through 12 YMCA program sites. The Kelowna Family YMCA and H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre surpasses 10,000 memberships.|
|2014||The Kelowna Family YMCA receives new aquatic change rooms and a significantly larger family change space. Three new out of school care sites are opened in West Kelowna, including Beyond the Bell – a donor-funded after-school program that closes learning gaps for children in Grades 1-5.|
|2017||The YMCA opened the Kelowna Downtown YMCA, which expanded the Y’s reach locally and facilitated some unique health partnerships; began operating the Kelowna Senior Secondary Child Care Centre and Young Parent Program, enabling the Y to give young parents the support needed to care for their children and complete their education; and launched YMCA Mindfulness Programming for ages 13-18.|
|2018||Opened the Pandosy Street YMCA where at-risk youth can access health, employment, educational and social services; opened Queen’s Park Child Care Centre, expanding our child care services to the South Okanagan.|
|2019||Launched free Early Years Programs in the Central and South Okanagan to support the well-being of vulnerable families and their children 0-6 years, as well as a Life Skills Program in Penticton for youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and intellectual disabilities. Over $1 Million distributed in financial assistance and program support.|
|2020||Experienced unprecedented challenges and closures due to the worldwide COVID pandemic resulting in the Y adapting its programs and services in innovative and responsive ways to meet critical community needs.|
|2021||YMCA Dilworth Mountain Child Care Centre opens with 81 child care and preschool spaces; YMCA Alternative Suspension launches in both Kelowna and West Kelowna.|