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Nationally-Renowned Drowning Prevention Expert Trains YMCA of Snohomish County Aquatics Staff

Approximately 25,000 people visit YMCA of Snohomish County pools every month for open swim, swim team practice, swim lessons and more. As a national leader in aquatics, the Y ensures that all staff are continually learning and refining their water rescue skills, so the community – swimmers and non-swimmers – can confidently swim at any facility and know that Y lifeguards and staff are focused, skilled and ready to respond.

Over 140 lifeguards and swim instructors gathered together for their bi-annual Association-wide aquatics training at the Monroe/Sky Valley Family YMCA earlier this month. The YMCA of Snohomish County invited nationally-renowned aquatics safety consultant, Michael A. Oostman, to conduct its staff training.

For over 30 years, Oostman has worked to prevent drowning and catastrophic aquatic injuries through education, mentoring and forensic investigation services. As part of the Y staff training, Oostman observed aquatics drills at all six branches and then shared lessons learned with all staff, ensuring that they have the skills to respond quickly and efficiently to a potential drowning or injury emergency.

“Michael has evaluated nearly every kind of tragic water scenario, so he brings a wealth of knowledge to our staff,” said Tom Wunderlich, Association Director of Aquatics Advancement, YMCA of Snohomish County. “Our staff benefited from the unique perspective he brings and the information and skills they can implement immediately to keep all swimmers safe.”

To learn more about aquatics programs, including swim lessons, open swim, Barracudas Swim Team and Stingrays Adaptive Swim Team, please visit our aquatics page.

Mukilteo Member Brigitte’s Y Story

MUKILTEO, WA. November 2, 2023 – The YMCA offers something for all, including members of our community who may have health challenges. Meet Brigitte, a 75-year old diabetic who wears an oxygen tank on a daily basis. Brigitte is an insurance-based member, meaning she comes to the Y for free because of her doctor’s recommendation. She has regularly visited the Mukilteo Family YMCA for nearly two years and it has transformed her health.

Brigitte loves coming to the Y to swim three days a week and can’t rave enough about how it has benefited her. The Y is her “happy place and second home” and it has helped her breathe better, feel less pain in her arthritic joints, and lose weight. Brigitte also enjoys the mood-boosting effects of connecting with others and feels happier on days that she comes to the Y to swim. Brigitte loves the Mukilteo Y staff because they always look forward to seeing her, help her get set up in the pool, and encourage her in her health and fitness journey. Her doctor is also thrilled about all of the amazing progress she has made by coming to the Y.

Brigitte’s love of the Y has led her to become a donor. She hopes that her gift to our Annual Campaign will help give others the opportunity to be involved with the YMCA’s life-changing programs.

Brigitte wants to encourage others with health challenges to not feel stuck and to step out and try the Y. Her story is a reminder of how important it is to live in community, and that the Y helps individuals and communities build resilience as life’s challenges confront us.

Brigitte invites you to join her in the pool for fitness and fun and encourages you to donate to the Y’s Annual Campaign so everyone can have access to experience what the Y has given her.

Give a gift today at

Stanwood-Camano Y Partners with School District to Solve Transportation Challenges

STANWOOD, WA. August 25, 2023 – The Stanwood-Camano School District (SCSD) has agreed to provide transportation for YMCA School-Age Care (SAC) students for the 2023-24 school year, reducing the amount of time children spend on buses and making it more efficient for families to drop-off and pick-up their children at sites close to home.

The YMCA School-Age Care site at Utsalady Elementary School also serves students at Elger Bay Elementary on the south end of Camano Island. Last year, due to high enrollment numbers and reduced staff, the Y was unable to provide multiple bus runs and relied on district support in the afternoons. The drive from Elger Bay to Utsalady took over 45 minutes every afternoon.

“We truly appreciated the district’s partnership in shuttling more than a dozen students to our program at Utsalady last year, but a 45-minute bus ride impacted getting children to our after school program in a timely manner,” said Janelle Vital, School-Age Care Program Director, Stanwood-Camano YMCA. “The long bus ride also led to some behavior issues, among other things, and parents were understandably frustrated. This year, we hoped for a new solution to the transportation challenges and the district solved the problem before we even met to discuss last year’s issues. In short, the district worked out the logistics to make the Y program at Utsalady the first drop-off, eliminating that long bus ride. We are so grateful that our partners at the SCSD office were receptive to the concerns of their school families and the Y.”

The changes will alleviate transportation concerns for Y SAC students, but it also benefits the school district. With this year’s boundary changes, many families at Cedarhome Elementary School were moved to Utsalady Elementary School, lengthening commute times and subsequently causing stress to families. The school district had a solution to help these families needing before or after school care who are now at a school farther away from home.

“We don’t have the means to transport Utsalady Elementary students who reside in Stanwood, but we do have space in our programs,” said Vital. “We will be enrolling children at our Cedarhome location for before and after school care and the district will transport them to and from Utsalady Elementary.”

Families will save valuable time by having their children at sites close to home and won’t have the additional minutes of driving from Stanwood to Camano Island and back again – twice every day.

“We are grateful for the support of school staff and the Superintendent who believe in our programs and recognize that partnering together improves quality of life for families in the Stanwood-Camano School District,” said Vital. “We can continue to provide high-quality, impactful care for these students and we don’t have to worry about transportation concerns that can be a huge barrier for families.”

Registration is open for 2023-24 School-Age Care. To learn more about the Y’s program, please contact Janelle Vital at [email protected] or Anna Moore at [email protected]

Mill Creek Family YMCA Welcomes New Executive Director

MILL CREEK, WA. August 15, 2023 – The Mill Creek Family YMCA is excited to announce its new Executive Director, Gina Casagrande. Casagrande brings over 17 years of YMCA experience to Mill Creek and has worked with nearly every department from camp to child care, sports to aquatics. She most recently served as the Executive Director of the Monroe/Sky Valley Family YMCA since April 2021 before moving to her home community of Mill Creek.

“I’m thrilled to be at a YMCA in the community where my family lives and works,” said Casagrande. “Working and living in the community I serve not only allows me to see first-hand the fruits of our labor, but also helps me have a pulse on what’s going on with our neighbors so we can serve them in the most effective way.”

At the Monroe/Sky Valley Family YMCA, Casagrande successfully fostered key relationships with the City of Monroe and other community partnerships, assembled a top-notch staff team, and cultivated a positive, welcoming culture among staff and members.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we were able to rally together as a team and everyone really contributed to the development and regrowth of the branch,” she said. “I’m looking forward to new challenges at the Mill Creek Y. We have great programs, members and program participants, and board support and I know we can leverage those positives to do even more in the community.”

Casagrande hopes to strengthen relationships with local schools and community groups to reach more people, as well as expand adaptive programs to the Mill Creek Y to serve adults and kids with diverse-abilities.

“I want everyone in the Mill Creek community to know that we have a space and a place for you,” she said. “Everyone is welcome and we will help you find what you’re passionate about, whether it’s health and wellness, volunteerism and more.”

Casagrande spent 15 years working at the YMCA of Coastal Georgia in various roles before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Growing up, she spent summers visiting her father on Whidbey Island and always loved the area.

“The state of Washington has so much to offer – fishing, camping, hiking, rock climbing – I love being outdoors and the summer weather in Georgia is debilitating. I wanted my kids to be able to experience the outdoors,” said Casagrande. “I was also looking for a change professionally and the opportunity to be near my dad made so coming to the YMCA of Snohomish County was a win-win situation.”

As Casagrande steps into this new role, she’s most looking forward to sharing the Y with those who might not know about it.

“There is literally something for everyone at the Mill Creek Y,” she said. “Come check it out!”

YMCA of Snohomish County Awarded $277,500 Grant to Expand STEM Opportunities

EVERETT, WA. August 8, 2023 – M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, a local philanthropic organization, awarded the YMCA of Snohomish County a multi-year, $277,500 grant to expand its successful Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Discovery Program. Grant funds will allow the program to serve youth at all YMCA School-Age Care (SAC) sites for the 2023-24 school year.

“We are thrilled to be able to serve children in all 26 SAC sites across the county,” said Lauren Hunter, STEM Program Manager, YMCA of Snohomish County. “Up to this point, we’ve been able to bring STEM learning opportunities to about 350 youth. We’ll now be serving over 1,100 kids.”

The grant funds support two new STEM coordinator positions that will help implement STEM Discovery in all school-age programs. With continued expansion in years two and three of the funding, STEM programming will extend into the Y’s Youth Leadership/Teen spaces in the 2024-25 school year and community outreach and engagement in late 2025.

“With the overwhelming success and positive impact of STEM Discovery at our initial locations last year, we are excited to take this opportunity to bring the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to more youth,” said Megan Proost, Director of Child Care Advancement, YMCA of Snohomish County. “As young minds mature into future leaders, we envision a world where they use their STEM knowledge to address global challenges, create groundbreaking solutions and make a lasting positive impact on society.”

The STEM Discovery Program brings fun, equitable, hands-on learning to youth in the Y’s SAC program. Students receive 23 weeks of curriculum with each STEM lesson including 21st Century Skills and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) elements. Activities range from creating creatures based on traits to learn about environment and habitat to building boats out of scrap craft supplies and more. STEM Discovery activities teach critical concepts in a fun and engaging way.

“There is a big need for high-quality STEM learning opportunities in our area,” said Hunter. “We will be able to impact so many kids by getting out to all of our sites because every child deserves the chance to be a scientist.”

By having a larger STEM Discovery staff team, there will be more focus on program and curriculum development, building community partnerships with local businesses and hosting community events.

“This funding, along with our STEM staff’s culture of innovation, curiosity and collaboration, will propel our organization to the forefront of STEM programming,” said Proost. “We will be better equipped to empower YMCA youth with the skills, knowledge and passion to share a brighter future for our community.”

Everett Family YMCA Benefits from Nintex Local Impact Project

EVERETT, WA. July 28, 2023 – The Everett Family YMCA gifted dozens of bikes to local children thanks to a generous donation from Nintex, a global software company headquarted in Bellevue, WA. Nintex staff built the bikes as part of a team-building event at its global sales conference last week.

“We were so glad to incorporate this impact project into our sales conference and gift brand-new bikes to local children,” said Krista Burkart, Senior Executive Assistant, Nintex. “As a former Mill Creek Y board member, the Y has a special place in my heart and I love that we can do something as an organization and give back to the community in a meaningful way.”

The Y serves thousands of local children through its programs and services. Partnering with area businesses strengthens community and builds connection.

“It was an easy decision to choose the Y as the recipient of the bikes,” said Burkhart. “The work they do with local children through Big Brothers Big Sisters, school-age care and camp resonates with our employees. Our staff response was so positive; we received many comments and compliments.”

The bike distribution event was Friday, July 21 at the Everett Family YMCA. Bikes, helmets and a bag of craft supplies were available for Y members. Children arrived and got to choose their own bike and enjoy an ice cream treat.

“The smiles on the kids’ faces and gratitude from their families was so rewarding,” said Megan Franklin, Senior Program Director, Everett Family YMCA. “We are thankful for partnerships with companies like Nintex who want to make the community a better place – especially for kids.”

Partnerships with local companies are a win-win for the Y whose mission is strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

“Working with local businesses who want to make an impact in the community benefits all,” said Franklin. “They make it possible for us to go above and beyond and serve kids in a fun way – in this instance, providing a brand-new bike.”

Please visit to learn more about the programs and services the Y offers across Snohomish County.

Mukilteo Y Hosts MUK Games Skate Park Event

MUKILTEO, WA. July 25, 2023 – The Mukilteo Family YMCA is hosting MUK games, its largest skate park event of the year, on July 28-30. From beginners to professionals, riders will perform mind-blowing tricks as they compete for amazing prizes and recognition among the skateboarding community.

“We are so excited to give everyone their moment to shine and a unique opportunity to participate in the sport they love,” said Jason Maki, Skate Park Director. “I’m particularly looking forward to the non-locals who attend the event and throw down (which translates to: do awesome tricks)!”

The weekend’s events consist of Finger Skateboarding from 4 – 8 pm on Friday, July 28, Skateboarding from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturday, July 29 and Scootering from 10 am – 4 pm on Sunday, July 30. The wide variety of events gives everyone the chance to display their skills and talent.

“This is a great venue for riders of all skill levels to compete,” said Maki. “Besides the absolute plethora of prizes to win, thanks to local shops and renowned skateboard companies, competing and having the chance to skate the park with an enthusiastic crowd watching can be a life experience these riders will never forget.”

Each rider will get two 45-second runs in their assigned division while having their names and tricks broadcasted by an emcee. The weekend’s festivities includes food, prizes, music, skating culture, and more! Lunch is provided for participants. Lunch tickets will be available to purchase.

“Spectators can expect to see all ages and ability levels showcase their skills and be a part of our summertime classic,” said Maki. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to check out the skating world and see what happens at our incredible facility.”

Registration is open through the end of the week for participants who want to compete. Registration is $5 for Y members and $15 community members. The event is free for spectators. Photo I.D. is required for the general public. For more information, please visit:

The MUK is one of the largest outdoor parks in Washington state, featuring all elements of a traditional skate park, but with the addition of trained, caring instructors providing supervision at all times. The Y’s skate park is the only staffed skate facility in Snohomish County.

YMCA of Snohomish County Adaptive Swim Team Offers Competition for All

EVERETT, WA. June 22, 2023 – The Mukilteo Family YMCA is home to the Stingrays Swim Team, an adaptive swim program that offers athletes with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities the opportunity to learn about swimming as a sport while having fun and making friends. The Stingrays just wrapped up their 2023 season by competing at the Washington State Special Olympics meet at the King County Aquatics Center.

“We are proud to be the home of the Stingrays and its amazing athletes,” said Carl Funnell, Senior Director, Mukilteo Family YMCA. “We welcome dozens of swimmers, families, and volunteers into the Y every week and love to help build this tight-knit swimming community.”

The Stingrays were originally an independent Edmonds-based Special Olympics team that worked out at the Y, renting the pool for its three-month season. In 2019, the Stingrays became a year-round YMCA of Snohomish County program. There is an influx of swimmers in the spring due to Special Olympics, but many athletes swim year-round. The program is for all ages with swimmers ranging from age 10 to adults.

“The minimum requirement to join the team is the ability to safely get from one side of the pool to the other (either swimming or walking) and the ability to follow directions,” said Funnell. “The team works well together and supports each other throughout the season. Our families report that it’s the highlight of their swimmer’s week. They look forward to coming to the pool every Saturday.”

The team practices once a week and uses the majority of the pool, serving 50-60 families. The Stingrays practice at the Mukilteo Y, but has swimmers from across Snohomish County. The program is fully-funded by scholarships and supported by volunteers. Volunteers assist with swim practice and also help run the state and regional Special Olympics meets.

Jim Toye has just completed his first season volunteering with the Stingrays by helping Coach Jim Russell set up work stations and assist kids in the water with learning swim strokes.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to give back to the community and help these wonderful kids in this small way,” said Toye. “The kids love to be in the pool and deserve the chance to compete and have fun.”

Coaching includes the YMCA values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility while working on physical training and stroke technique. The team encourages sportsmanship, as well as competition.

For more information about the Stingrays Swim Team, please visit Swimmers are required to be YMCA members to participate, but financial assistance is available.