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Austin Nicholls’ has struggled with weight all his life. Growing up, Austin’s weight fluctuated between healthy and unhealthy levels but by the time he graduated, he was almost 300lbs.

Austin’s battles with weight have been long and difficult, but since beginning a life-changing fitness journey with the YMCA in April 2017, he has successfully lost 70 pounds.

Looking to get back in shape, but on a tight budget after relocating to the Okanagan from Ontario, Nicholls heard about the YMCA of Okanagan’s Financial Assistance program from a friend and decided to apply.

“My limitation to getting healthy was purely financial, so once this barrier was removed, I joined the H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre,” said Nicholls. “I knew losing weight and keeping it off wasn’t going to be easy, but with the support from the Y, I was able to focus on exercise, diet and long-lasting lifestyle changes.”

Being overweight can cause low confidence and self-esteem, leading to serious health issues, isolation and depression.

“If I didn’t have a place to go or a reason to leave the house to be active and healthy, then I probably would have stayed in the same downward spiral that I was in,” explained Nicholls.

Trisha Hodgins often assists members with their financial assistance applications as the Member Services Manager at H2O, which is operated by the YMCA of Okanagan.

“At the YMCA, it is our mission to ensure anyone who wishes to join our Y family can do so regardless of their financial situation,” said Hodgins. “The progress Austin has made in just over a year is inspiring and we are so proud to be a part of an organization that offers health prevention programs, coaching and access for all.”

As a donor to the YMCA of Okanagan, your gift can make a significant impact for someone like Austin. Whether you direct your gift to child care, child & youth programs, employment services or financially assisted Y memberships, you are helping to build a stronger, healthier community.