Catawba Valley YMCA

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Hickory Rotarian Bob Conklin, President/CEO of the YMCA of Catawba Valley, spoke to the club about the Y’s efforts locally and nationally.

Founded in London in 1844 the YMCA has been in the United States 160 years and in the Catawba Valley for 40 years. Nationally, the YMCA has 20 million members, a half million volunteers and over 2700 facilities. The YMCA seeks to put “Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.” Areas of Focus include Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility.

Recently our local YMCA has hosted:

  • Prayer Breakfasts
  • Teen Character Awards: Community Wide “Tell us the story” of teens embracing positive character values, caring, honesty, respect & responsibility. (39 honorees.)
  • Turkey Trot
  • City of Hickory swimming lessons aimed at the prevention of childhood drowning – the number one cause of death in children under the age of 5 in this country.

The Y has a great history, wonderful traditions, and a rich heritage. Some of the important contributions the Y has made to the world include:

  • Basketball, 1891 James Naismith, Springfield MA.
  • Volleyball, 1895, Holyoke MA.
  • Softball
  • Racquetball
  • Professional Football had it’s beginning at the Y (first game played in a YMCA)
  • Night School
  • Capital Campaigns
  • Summer Camp
  • Bodybuilding & Exercise Classes developed at the Y
  • Father’s Day, started at the Y(in response to Mother’s day)

A big part of what the YMCA does is Health and Wellness. Here is what we know about fitness:

  • 15% of the population works out
  • 15% never will
  • 70% (in the middle) are health seekers…They know about the benefits of exercise, want to get healthy, want to feel better, and would like to lose 10lbs.

The Y spends a lot of time with the Health Seekers to help get them active, get them comfortable and get them connected with others.

We know if you reach the age of 65, you have a good chance to live to age 85. If you are a regular exerciser (3 or more times per week) this will increase your independent living by 10 years. We all know the benefits of exercise, all the good it does for us, but still only 15% chose to work out.

Obesity in the United States is a growing problem:

  • The prevalence of obesity has increased since the 80’s.
  • Obesity has risen 3 fold in 2 decades.
  • The freshman class that entered college this past fall, is 20 lbs. heavier than the freshman class entering college in the 70’s.

If these trends continue, by 2030, 86% of the population in the US will be obese or are at risk of being obese! In Catawba County 2/3 of all adults and 44% of our school age children are overweight.

The Y supports 3 initiatives to combat childhood obesity:

  • Girls on the Run: 8 to 13 year olds, in 4 counties, run a 5K, twice a year. The Y partners with the Hickory Crawdads minor league baseball team and LP Frans Stadium for their 5K run. This helps participants build confidence and hopefully an appreciation of health & fitness.
  • Fit for Motion: A plan for all second graders in Hickory Public Schools that combines physical activity with nutritional information through a partnership with Hickory Public Schools, Somez Institute and the YMCA.
  • Kid’s Marathon: A project of all three Catawba County school systems involves kids, ages 5 to 12. Over the course of 4 months, participants will run a marathon totaling 26.2 miles. The goal this year is to engage over 1200 students to complete this Kid’s marathon.

Bob also spoke of the Shuford Capital Campaign for the Adrian L. Shuford Jr. YMCA in Conover, NC. The fundraiser will provide a much needed face lift and infrastructure upgrade. The Conover upgrade includes:

  • Refresh in 4 locker rooms
  • Rebuilding of the steam room
  • Total renovation of the gymnasium
  • Splash Park
  • Upgraded  HV/AC system
  • Pool pump & filtration system
  • Energy Efficient Lighting

Bob also spoke of the need for and efforts to build a YMCA facility in Boone, NC. Watauga County is in dire need of a YMCA and a new Y could add to the quality of life for that community.

Bob concluded the program with information regarding the Hickory Foundation Center Y’s teen agenda. Former Hickory Rotarian, the late CO Miller, was a positive influence in the lives of area children as the director of the Hickory Foundation Center (aka “the Center”). CO provided a caring and safe place for kids; all felt welcome and ran, got a lift or rode bikes to the Foundation Center after school, on weekends and during summer. Basketball, football, baseball, swimming, tennis, bowling and pool were just some of the activities available to local children, many of whom viewed CO as a second Father or mentor. In 2005 the community raised money to build the CO Miller Teen Center at the Hickory YMCA. Some of the teen center’s activities include:

  • Teen Leaders Club
  • Youth & Government
  • Black & Latino Achievers
  • 5th Quarter Parties
  • Middle School Dances
  • After School Drop In
  • Summer Camp LIT (Leaders in Training) for Middle School
  • Teen Character Awards
  • Sports
  • Climbing Tower
  • Aquatics
  • Young Life

For more information visit

General Info

  • Meeting Time:
    Thursdays from 12:00PM to 1:15PM
  • Meeting Location:
    430 17th Avenue NW,
    Hickory, North Carolina 28601