There are 30 YWCA’s across Canada. Our local community charitable organization was founded by a group of creative and determined women who saw a need for a ‘YW without Walls’ to reach out and fill the gaps in necessary services in Muskoka, especially for women and their families.
Today we deliver educational workshops, training for women interested in starting new businesses, youth leadership with schools, after-school and in summer day programs, and we advocate with a gender-based lens on equity issues that affect girls, women and gender-diverse more than others.
This year, YWCA Muskoka is celebrating 25 years serving Muskoka communities.
Just to be clear, we often partner with, but are not the same organization as the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka which runs the pool and recreation centre in Gravenhurst and offers employment, literacy and ESL services in the region.
YWCA Muskoka’s cornerstone is violence prevention and we believe it’s critical to start with young people to learn how to develop a positive sense of self and identity, healthy relationships, empathy for others, confidence and self-determination for positive social development and in the big picture, to shape a community for wellbeing and change.
Over the years, the YWCA has become known for 2 programs – Girlz Unplugged and Quest. We also run Girlz Choice in highschools, Power of Being You during Week without Violence and have held events like Spring Fling, happening June 2nd to focus on ending hate and promoting anti-racism in Muskoka.
School Year Programs
Girlz Unplugged is one of the longest running girls-centered group programs in Canada. YWCA Muskoka has developed and delivered this confidence skill building program for self-identifying girls in grade 5-8 across the rural region of Muskoka for over 20 years.
Girls meet weekly with a YWCA facilitator over 12 weeks to explore healthy relationships, self-care, body image, gender stereotypes, being media and internet savvy, through crafts, role play, discussions, laughs and fun.
The goals of the program are to increase connection to oneself, others and community; develop confidence; develop critical thinking; understanding healthy relationships & building positive peer support. Our programs are offered across Muskoka schools, as well as select after school programs in communities in the Fall and Winter.
Quest was created in 2008 and is delivered in Muskoka schools in grades 5-8 for self-identifying boys and young men and post-pandemic, afterschool programs in our new Bracebridge location with a YWCA facilitator.
Quest brings participants together to embark on an adventure to explore individual strengths and uniqueness, learn about character, build life skills, develop positive peer relations and healthy relationships and learn how to navigate challenges. These topics are introduced through a variety of games, collaborative building activities, art activities and discussions.
To date over 1200 boys have participated in a Quest program in Muskoka.
Youth Co-Unite was started as a response to the pandemic for youth, and it has since evolved to a 6-week program for all genders aiming to unite youth to talk about what matters to them. Topics include gender inclusion, identity, healthy relationships, coping skills, gratitude and friendship.
This past school year, we delivered Youth Co-Unite at Huntsville High School, Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary, and Gravenhurst High School.
This summer, YWCA Muskoka hosts Girlz Unplugged and Girlz Leadership summer day programs in both Bracebridge and Huntsville, with a week of workshops in Gravenhurst.
Our Summer programs are an extension of our school-based YWCA programs. Topics covered over the week of camp include self-esteem, healthy friendships and relationships, mindset, emotional regulation, body image and other themes important to the youth.
Young people have a limited number of free summers off before they grow up, and our programs are both educational and recreational. So with every important conversation, there are plenty of fun activities including arts and crafts (most campers leave the week with a wrist full of bracelets!), swimming, games and pizza to close out the week.
YWCA summer programs provide a unique opportunity for girls and female-identified young people ages 9 and up to make new friends, discover their inner talents, learn to care for themselves and head home with a smile on their face!
We still have a few spots left in our Girlz Leadership summer camps for those 12 to 14 years old and Huntsville day camp for those 9 – 11 years old. These programs are affordable, subsidies are available upon request and we pride ourselves on offering a quality experience in a smaller group environment. Consider joining the YWCA this Summer!
Learn more about YWCA youth programs by visiting our website, follow us on Instagram or Facebook, or phone the office at 705-645-9827.