YMCA Founder’s Day: Celebrating 170 Years

Self Defense Lessons at the Y, Circa 1936

June 6 marks the 170th anniversary of the Y—a global organization that began with a simple but powerful idea: a strong, supportive community can help people build healthier, happier lives. Since it’s founding, the Y has grown into one of the world’s largest volunteer organizations and become renowned for its commitment to helping people of every background reach their potential.

From its humble beginnings on June 6, 1844 in London by George Williams and 11 friends, the Y saw to and met the practical and spiritual needs of young men flocking to London during the Industrial Revolution. Since then, the Y has grown and changed, meeting the needs of children, families and adults in 10,000 communities in the U.S. and 119 countries around the globe. Along the way, the Y is responsible for a number of innovations that influenced history and are part of our daily lives.

For instance:
• Basketball and volleyball were both invented at the Y.
• Night school and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes began at the Y.
• The world’s first indoor pool was at a Y, and the concept of group swim lessons started at the Y.
• The United Service Organizations (USO) was created with help from the Y, and the Peace Corps was patterned after a Y program.
• Father’s Day was created at a Y.

For 86 years, the Greater Joliet Area YMCA has been a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening our community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We’ve been able to help thousands of community members by providing swim lessons, before and after school care, fitness programs and much more.

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