New YMCA program offers moms a chance to relax
Isolation has taken a toll on many people over the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. New moms have added stress, and a new program, Moves of Motherhood (MOMs), is the YMCA Cape Cod’s answer to helping economically disadvantaged individuals get out of the house safely, exercise, and tend to their social and emotional needs.
MOMs is a free six-week program offering yoga and swimming to pre- and post-natal mothers who meet the income guidelines established by Early Head Start, Head Start, or WIC. YMCA Cape Cod recently became the region’s new Early Head Start and Head Start provider.
“YMCA Cape Cod has been open safely for months now, and we are happy to be providing a clean, safe place for people to gather, exercise and socialize,” said Patricia Mitrokostas, CFRE, vice president of development at the YMCA Cape Cod (the Y). “MOMs participants will come together in small groups for exercise and fun.”
The Y, located at 2245 Iyanough Road in West Barnstable, has large exercise rooms and two swimming pools, allowing plenty of space for social distancing. MOMs participants can bring their children or come alone for a chance to get out of the house and interact with other moms.
They can just do yoga, or just swim, or they can do both.
In addition, both parents can come, or a grandparent and mom, for example, Mitrokostas said. MOMs welcomes those who meet the income guidelines and who are responsible for raising the baby.
Vouchers for transportation are available for MOMs members who need a way to get to the Y.
“We’ve tried the think of everything to make it easy for people to participate,” said Mitrokostas, noting that the team at YMCA Cape Cod has been excited to put together a fun and useful program.
A Helping Hand
The need is great. In Barnstable County, more than 3,700 children under age 5 live in poverty.
But statistics don’t tell the real story, Mitrokostas said, noting that many people have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and are finding themselves facing a new normal in which even diapers are suddenly outside their budgets.
“Individuals with low incomes are at higher risk for illnesses, homelessness and social isolation,” she said. “Many are just trying to buy food and pay the rent, so they don’t have the monetary resources for recreation. We want to give them ways to reduce stress, exercise, have social interaction and increase the time they have to bond with their babies.”
The YMCA created MOMs in partnership with WIC and A Baby Center in Hyannis, which helped identify the need for the program.
Mitrokostas wrote the grant that was submitted to Cape Cod Healthcare, resulting in a $28,879 contribution.
“Thanks to the funds we received from Cape Cod Healthcare, we can give MOMs participants what they need to get to the YMCA and take part,” she said.
For example, on Martin Luther King Day, the Y’s afterschool kids packed goodie bags for the babies. Now, little ones will be given swim diapers, wipes and other essentials to make trips to the Y easier.
Totes for mothers include yoga mats and towels.
Perhaps the most important thing the new mothers and new families will get through the MOMs program is a chance to relax.
“When you get to the YMCA, you meet others like you who have the same challenges. It’s a fun, relaxing place. You can also find out what programs and resources are available and ways to get help,” Mitrokostas said.
She added that they have a family specialist and a mental health specialist. Beyond the exercise opportunities, parents will be able to participate in zoom calls where they can share experiences and connect with others who are dealing with these tough times.
To sign up for MOMs, visit the website
www.ymcacapecod.org or contact Shannon Lundy at the Y at 508-362-6500, ext. 136