Wilmington, DE – The Brandywine branch of the YMCA of Delaware has launched a pilot program for cancer survivors between 10-17 years of age. The 12-week program, that runs every Monday and Wednesday from 4:30- 6:00 p.m. helps young survivors increase strength and cardiovascular health while increasing flexibility and endurance. Participants work with staff trained in supportive cancer care that focuses on the whole person rather than the disease.
“Healthy living is important for everyone and the YMCA is dedicated to offering programs for all populations. This program takes a holistic approach by helping pediatric cancer survivors move beyond cancer in spirit, mind, and body,” said branch Fitness Center Director Terri Borkland.
Borkland says parents see the Y as a trusted resource for their children where the young cancer survivors receive emotional and physical support while bonding with others who are facing similar situations.
Danielle Farenski, who enrolled her 13 year-old son Gavin in the class, is grateful for the opportunity to participate. “For that hour and a half of the day, Gavin is just a kid again. As a mom, I know the impact of him exercising and getting his muscles and body moving after a trying year of treatment. But, there is the social aspect I never saw coming, he thoroughly enjoys coming and hanging out with the other kids. I hope he is able to make long-lasting friendships with kids he can now relate to.” Farenski said.
Participants like Gavin will not only give staff feedback to help enhance the pilot cancer exercise program but will even work together to give it a name.
“We want the young people in this program to take ownership of it as part of their recovery. The Y is here to offer physical training and the peer-to-peer relationships are equally important. We hope our young participants leave the program feeling physically and emotionally stronger,” Borkland said.