By Guest Blogger Chelsea Joslyn, Communications Director for the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina
When you think of the Y in the summer the first things that probably come to mind are summer camp and swim lessons. Each year, thousands of children in our community learn to be safe around the water at local YMCAs. Many spend all or part of their summer break at YMCA summer day camps, sports and specialty camps, and YMCA Camp Hanes.
Our goal is to help every child get more out of summer break – more friendships, more accomplishments and more belonging. Through a mix of fun and educational activities aimed at improving well-being, kids will experience new adventures, learn and master new skills, share and trade interests with friends, exchanging plenty of high-fives along the way.
Nearly 40,000 parents across the country recently participated in a nationwide survey to see how Y camp benefits kids. Ninety-one percent of parents/caregivers said they agreed the Y’s day camp program helped kids make new friends. In addition, 81 percent said they agreed the program helped their kids discover what they can achieve, while 86 percent agreed their child felt a sense of belonging at their Y camp.
At the Y, we believe that every child deserves to reach their full potential during the summer months. That’s why we raise money each year in the Y’s Annual Giving Campaign to provide financial assistance for children who would otherwise not be able to afford to participate in Y programs. Unfortunately, we know that many kids face critical gaps when they are out of school for the summer related to hunger, water safety, academics, safe spaces to play, and health. Through summer camp and other youth development programs, the Y helps youth to “hop the gap” and achieve more, providing a safe to place to learn, stay healthy and build friendships. Here are a few of the ways you may not know we’re helping kids this summer:
YMCAs offer swim lessons throughout the year. Currently, our Fulton Family YMCA is running a grant-funded program called Safe Around Water to educate children as part of the Y’s commitment to reduce drowning rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years old. In ethnically diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average, according to a USA Swimming study.
During the summer, YMCA Summer Learning Academies help to close the education achievement gap and fight summer learning loss. The five-week programs serve more than 300 children who are identified as academically at-risk by their school. The programs incorporate math, reading and tutoring by certified teachers, health and wellness information on nutrition and physical activity, computer labs, and enrichment components. Every YMCA Summer Day Camp also includes time for reading and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities to keep kids engaged in learning all summer long.
YMCA Bright Beginnings is a program that pairs children in need with volunteers who serve as shopping buddies to help students pick out a new outfit, coat, and shoes for the first day of school. A new outfit on the first day of school helps children feel confident and ready to learn. The children also receive a backpack filled with school supplies, and food and fellowship after the shopping trip. The Kernersville Family YMCA was the first branch in the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina to offer this program and it continues to grow each year. Today, it is offered at five YMCAs in the area.
And lastly, with school just around the corner, the YMCA Backpack Campaign helps make back to school special for kids whose families may be struggling to make ends meet. Branches of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina gather backpacks and school supplies to ensure every student starts the school year ready to learn. August 1 through August 15, new members can join the Y for a $0 joining fee when they donate a new backpack.
You can learn more, register for programs, donate, or get involved at ymcanwnc.org or call 336 777 8055. Financial Assistance is available.
Sponsored by the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina