Our Story

The greatest of all ideas are universal. They transcend the boundaries of age, ability, location, or financial situation – they are brilliantly simple, yet inherently complicated. The greatest of ideas are dreamt by few, understood by many, and accessible to all.

The Mary Free Bed YMCA is one such idea. The product of a fully accessible health and wellness vision, The Mary Free Bed YMCA is a one-of-a-kind Y designed explicitly for all to experience. A host of new programs in youth leadership, healthy aging, adaptive fitness, and nutrition education are made possible for the greatest number of people due to its first-of-a-kind universal design.

Slated to open fall 2015, this 36-acre, LEED certified community centerpiece is well on its way to realization. With your help, the Mary Free Bed YMCA will support children, adults, and families with unbridled ease of access to healthy living – carrying our commitment to the community and history of innovation well into the future.

Even the most able-bodied individuals pass through a time when they find themselves challenged by age (both young and old), language barriers, temporary illness and injury. By designing for diversity, the built environment becomes more functional and user friendly. Universal design principles recognize there is a wide spectrum of human abilities; its goals are to serve the widest range of people possible.

Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Universal Design extends this concept further recognizing the presence of wide spectrum of human abilities and needs. Architects and planners are designing for an aging population, special needs children, those with temporary sports injury, those recovering from medical procedures, those with muscular skeletal diseases, and those with hearing and sight challenges.

The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University outlines seven design principles as guidance:

  • equitable use
  • flexibility in use
  • simple and intuitive use
  • perceptible information
  • tolerance for error
  • low physical effort
  • size and space for approach and use.

Universal Design is leading to more livable communities. By considering a greater range of human diversity and expanding inclusiveness, we can create things that will be easier and more enjoyable for all people to use.

Universal Design Goals provide a framework for social participation and health, and acknowledges the role of applying Universal Design to actual, realistic designs. In addition, the goals encompass functional and emotional dimensions.

  • Body Fit
    Accommodating a wide a range of body sizes and abilities
  • Comfort
    Keeping demands within desirable limits of body function and perception
  • Awareness
    Ensuring that critical information for use is easily perceived
  • Understanding
    Making methods of operation and use intuitive, clear and unambiguous
  • Wellness
    Contributing to health promotion, avoidance of disease and protection from hazards
  • Social Integration
    Treating all groups with dignity and respect
  • Personalization
    Incorporating opportunities for choice and the expression of individual preferences
  • Cultural Appropriateness
    Incorporating opportunities for choice and the expression of individual preferences

For more information about the Mary Free Bed YMCA, contact us at info@grymca.org.