Local Silver Sneakers participant responds to YMCA statement


I suggest that the Champaign Family YMCA in Urbana might reread their response to the letter to the editor (Feb. 26, 2016) that was signed by 40 area senior citizens. I further suggest that they then resubmit a response that shows more sensitivity to the petition that is a concern of so many area seniors.

The Y’s response mentions that its facility offers programs for older adults as part of their “charitable mission.” Our petition is not asking for charity, but only asking for the recognition of a retirement benefit earned by the hard work of area seniors throughout their work careers. Not a single senior who was asked to sign this petition hesitated in signing. In fact, they enthusiastically signed, noting that, currently, area seniors are now being forced to travel to Bellefontaine and Marysville YMCAs in order to take advantage of their Silver Sneakers earned benefit.

The Y Board President noted that Silver Sneakers program “allows their members to utilize wellness centers all across the country.” I am glad he mentioned this, because, to this point, there are indeed 20 YMCA’s in the Columbus, Ohio area that recognize the Silver Sneakers program. The Champaign Family Y in Urbana is one of the very few Y’s that turns it back on this program.

The Y’s letter also mentions that Silver Sneakers participants only use the Y program occasionally. I don’t know why the Y should object to occasional use of their facility. Older adults who read this letter will be sympathetic to the fact that seniors do often use a health facility when their back acts up or after hip surgery or other medical procedures. Yes, continual, consistent use of the Y is the best way to utilize Y membership; but I am sure that many non Silver Sneaker users are also occasional users of the Y facility. Being occasional users of the Y does not imply that Silver Sneaker users don’t “see the true value the YMCA offers.”

Yes, all Y members would like preferential pricing. I would suggest that these people then encourage their work places to offer Silver Sneakers as part of their retirement package. However, they should be forewarned that this retirement benefit is often a substitute for pay increases in their salary negotiations.

The Y’s letter indicated that they offer their seniors financial assistance. An area senior resident commented that the Y does indeed now offer a one dollar per month discount on their fees to area seniors.

The Y is not giving free Y participation by accepting the Silver Sneakers program. YMCAs negotiate a fee with Silver Sneakers and insurance companies. Again, we hope that the 20 volunteer Board of Trustees step up to realize the value of this program and the value that it places on meeting the health needs of deserving area seniors. We hope that this then translates into someone being assigned to open negotiations with Silver Sneakers.

I hope that area seniors who have this same concern voice their opinions to the Y (Greg Hower) at the phone number (937-653-9622) given in the Y’s response to our petition.

Sincerely,

Chuck Spinner

Champaign County resident

Silver Sneakers member