The Y Goes Car-Free

photo (1)The YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South is a cause driven organization that is dedicated to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  As an organization, supporting the 30 Day Car-Free Challenge has been a fun and unique way of encouraging Y employees and members to align the healthy behaviors of walking and biking with the environmental benefits of leaving the car at home.

With 9 branch locations throughout the Mid-South region, the Y is a community organization that empowers and encourages health.  Also, with several branches near large employer centers, the Y and their showers are a great way for bike riders to freshen up before finishing the trip to work.

Several Y staff people were inspired by the car-free challenge to replace some car trips with bike riding and walking.

Leeann Buttram, VP of Member Services, took the challenge and had these comments. “One of my replacement trips was riding to lunch one day from my office.  I invited anyone who wanted to ride to bring their bikes and join in.  A group of four rode that day.  We will remember that ride much more than a car ride.  We connected and made memories.  We have a shared experience to talk about later – another level of relationship. My second trip was biking to the youth small group I lead for our church. Because it was a beautiful day, we decided to meet outside.  One of the young ladies I normally pick-up lives near the park, so I offered to bike to her house and ride together to group.  When I arrived at her house she was outside with a neighbor and she asked if he wanted to come with us.  I rode across the cul de sac and introduced myself to his father.  Being on a bike was much less intimidating.  Parents might be (probably should be)  hesitant to let their child hop in a vehicle with a stranger to go to church, but biking to the park was fine.  I was able to connect with a new young person and family by being on my bike.

photo (2)Shauna Bateman, Y Corporate Relationship Director, spent one day biking to work from Midtown to the association office in East Memphis.  The 30 mile round-trip took longer than her typical 30 minute commute.  But, she said, “this trip allowed me to ride through many really great Memphis sites like Overton Park, Broad Avenue, The Shelby Farms Greenline and the Wolf River Greenway.  I even got to see the I-240 flyover construction from a whole new angle-under it.”  Shauna mentioned that this challenge inspired her to think differently about getting to work.  “I am often at meetings all over the metro area so I cannot bike most days.  But, this experience has inspired me to do the ride again in April next time adding the MATA bus for the trip home.  I have realized from this challenge that I can be more intentional about combining exercise and transportation.”

The Y is dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community which includes supporting the City of Memphis’s 30 Day Car-Free challenge and initiatives like it that help make Memphis a healthier, more connected community.