RECESS at Eastside YMCA

    RECESS at Eastside YMCA

    At the YMCA of Greenville, we work tirelessly to create a place for all to belong. This year, we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the YMCA of Greenville’s signature program for post-high school adults with diverse abilities: RECESS (Recreation, Education, Community, Exercise, Social and Service). The program fosters the growth of each participant by providing opportunities to learn about nutrition, fitness, social responsibility, community outreach, and independent living skills. RECESS allows adults with diverse abilities not only a place to grow their practical life experience, but also gives them a place to connect with friends and gain a sense of belonging.

    The creation of RECESS was inspired by a young man who visited the Y often, looking for a place to make friends and connect to his community, just like every other member that walks through the doors of the YMCA. His family knew the Y’s mission: to serve all. Our YMCA recognized the need and responded in 2013 by partnering with the Barbara Stone Foundation to create this dynamic signature program.  RECESS began with 5 participants at the Caine Halter Family YMCA.  In its 10 years, it has grown to now serve 73 participants in four different classes. Families can choose to attend the program at one of three locations: Caine Halter Family YMCA in Greenville, Eastside Family YMCA in Taylors, or YMCA Program Center in Simpsonville. RECESS is unique in that it offers a continuous yearlong opportunity for participants to grow, learn, and engage with the world around them.

    RECESS allows individuals with disabilities to experience life as part of the greater community rather than sitting on the sidelines, watching from a distance. The program emphasizes volunteerism, service, and continued learning both during scheduled curriculum days, and also during social events. The program has helped individuals gain the needed skills to volunteer independently while at the Y as well as other mission-driven organizations, such as Meals on Wheels.  Through community partnerships, RECESS participants are given the chance to make a difference by assisting with the needed “sweat equity hours” at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, baking cookies for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and developing relationships with residents at the Windsor House (an assisted living facility in Greenville).  In addition to becoming more autonomous as individuals, RECESS participants learn the value of civic responsibilities. One class learned the importance of registering to vote and then visited their local city council. While there, they had the opportunity to meet the mayor and learn how their vote impacts their local communities.

    RECESS makes a tremendous impact on the lives of each person served. The families of our participants have shared that RECESS has boosted confidence, promoted independence, created peer interactions and friendship opportunities, and resulted in an overall increase feeling of happiness. Kelly Lusk expressed her gratitude for the program, “Our son, Cameron is diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, Seizure Disorder and OCD. He graduated from high school at 21 years old and we were in a total state of panic as to what to do and where to go next.  Our search for a program where he didn’t just sit in a chair all day long proved to be completely unattainable in this area. We had literally prayed for a program for over 5 years in anticipation of the day he would no longer be able to attend school. When we learned of RECESS, we knew our prayers had been answered. The RECESS Program and all the instructors involved are absolute answers to our prayers and blessings to our lives. We cannot imagine life without RECESS.”


    Aside from the community engagement, service opportunities, and learning experiences, RECESS participants want the same thing out of life that we all do: to experience life with friends and have fun while doing it! Bowling, mini golf, dance parties, holiday gatherings, and playing games are just a few of the activities that we engage in!

    The need for our program to expand is an urgent one, and the YMCA of Greenville is here to answer the call by providing a high-quality experience for these incredible individuals living in the Greenville community. Over the next 10 years, the YMCA of Greenville will continue to identify chances to offer this life-changing program, and we look forward to partnering with community agencies to fill the gap for people with diverse abilities.

    To learn more about RECESS, contact Rebekah Cunningham, RECESS Program Manager at rebekah.cunningham@ymcagreenville or Click Here to be directed to the website.

    BMW Pro-Am: Birdies for Charity

    BMW Pro-Am: Birdies for Charity


    BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX is looking for local, Upstate, nonprofit organizations to sign up for Birdies for Charity to start earning matching funds now!**see details below.


    Here is a little informational Q&A about the program:


    What is Birdies for Charity? Birdies for Charity® is a multi-level fundraising program designed to give participating charities the opportunity to generate contributions for their organization based on the number of “birdies” made by Korn Ferry Tour professional players Thursday through Sunday during the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX.

    What’s the cost for local nonprofits to participate? It is completely free for 501(c)3’s and schools in the Upstate to participate.


    What are the expectations? There are no expectations! Just sign up and start soliciting pledges. We recommend that you send e-mail blasts, post on social media and work within the community to promote that you are participating in this event….but there are no minimum requirements!


    What’s the benefit of participating?

    • No Risk! No out of pocket expenses!
    • All donations are tax-deductible
    • Charities receive 100% of their donations
    • Organizations can receive Bonus Bucks
    • Dollar for dollar match up to the first $100,000.00 raised by all charities
    • Participating organizations get their name on the Charity Spotlight Board at the tournament


     What’s Next? Go to to register. Click on the “donate now” button and then choose “participating organization”. You will receive an approval email within 5-7 business days that includes login information to the Birdies Portal. Once you have the approval email you are able to solicit donations! Utilize the charity resources that are on the Birdies website and then email with any questions or concerns.

    Wholespire – Promoting and Supporting Health Equity in South Carolina

    Wholespire – Promoting and Supporting Health Equity in South Carolina

    Have you ever heard about a town that was losing its only grocery store? What about a local park that was run down and unsafe? At Wholespire, we help community coalitions identify ways to fix those types of problems so that all community members have a fair chance at taking better care of their health. It’s amazing to see how making one or two small improvements can lead to a healthier and happier community.

    Wholespire has been working to make South Carolina a healthier state since 2007. Our mission is to provide communities with proven and sustainable approaches that lead to increased access to healthy choices for all people. With a focus on increasing access to healthy eating and active living, Wholespire is a leader in creating environments that promote healthy behaviors and prevent chronic disease.

    1. We were formerly known as Eat Smart Move More South Carolina

    While you may not be familiar with Wholespire, you might know us as Eat Smart Move More South Carolina. In 2020, we decided to change our name to better reflect our work.  Wholespire combines the word “whole” with the words “aspire” (what we’re striving for) and “inspire” (what we hope to evoke in people). It’s the state in which a complete and harmonious community is achieved.

    Our new name and look capture our efforts to bring about lasting and healthy change for so many who aspire to wellness but lack access to the key components of health. It’s a refresh on our goal to make whole health a possibility for all South Carolinians as we inform, engage and influence decision-makers to include health in policy decisions.

    1. We are advocates

    What makes us different from other organizations is that we advocate to our state legislators to include health in all policies. You can find us at the state house advocating for free school meals for all SC students, more recess time at school and the Healthy Bucks program. We also support our partners’ initiatives that impact health equity. In addition to advocating to change state-level policies and laws, we equip communities to do the same at the local level. You can learn more about our legislative priorities and the bills we’re watching by visiting our Advocacy Center. You can also become a Wholespire advocate! We make contacting your legislators easy with pre-written email messaging. Sign up to become an advocate for health in your community.

    1. We have annual mini-grants available

    To date, Wholespire has invested over $200,000 in mini-grants across the state. While these grants cannot be used to fund events, programs, or direct education, they can be used to create or improve access to nutritious foods and safe places to be physically active. Examples of mini-grant projects include:

    • A paved walking track at an elementary school
    • Outdoor water bottle refill stations at parks and trails
    • Bilingual signage at a farmers’ market
    • Benches, signage, trash receptacles along trails or walking paths
    • Playground equipment for schools or parks

    For more information, visit our website.

    1. We have 14 county-level Wholespire chapters across the state

    Community change must start with community voice. That’s why Wholespire uses a chapter model to allow communities to lead the change themselves. We provide branding and technical assistance, but each coalition has volunteers made up of people who live and/or work in that county. Each chapter chooses the strategies that make the most sense for their community.

    Stay up to date with all our work by subscribing to our newsletter!