Through our focus on Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility, the Y provides the complete “wrap-around” support today’s kids need to reach their full potential. And we do it through academically based programs focused on values, reading, wellness and reducing family stress.
From infancy through college, we are helping children enter school ready to learn, close the achievement gap and graduate on time. To prevent bullying and school violence, we’re instilling values. And to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity, all of our after school and summer camp programs include at least one hour of physical activity.
Because strong families raise strong kids, we also support parents every step of the way, especially those who struggle to pay for quality child care. Here are just a few ways the Y of Central Florida honors its commitment to Youth Development:
YMCA Early Childhood Development Centers
Young minds thrive at our two Walt Disney World locations where children, ages birth to 5, receive the consistent, nurturing care they need to develop socially, physically and cognitively.
And by helping families develop strong parenting skills and healthy habits, we give kids a solid foundation for lifelong success.
YMCA Elementary School Program
There’s plenty to love about the Y’s Elementary After School Program. Here, 2,800 kids per day sit down to do homework, which means no-stress family time in the evenings. They also benefit from extra reading time, as well as physical activity to combat childhood obesity and values-based lessons to prevent bullying. And it all takes place on site at 39 Orange County Elementary School locations, which means no walking home. No commute. No worries for busy parents.
YMCA Middle School Program
Since 1999, more than 165,000 kids have stayed safe, active and learning ─ at no cost to families ─ through our YMCA After School Zone program. Operated in partnership with Orange County Government at 14 middle school locations, the program provides a learning-rich environment focused on values, reading, wellness and strengthening families.
Kids also have an opportunity to explore special interests like robotics, music, rocketry and drama. By tracking outcomes, we know that 80% of participating kids have been able to maintain a 2.0 GPA or better. They also have higher rates of attendance and lower rates of juvenile delinquency.
Reversing Summer Learning Loss
To address the issue of summer learning loss – especially among kids who are already struggling in school – the Y last year sponsored two intensive learning programs that delivered fantastic results.
At McCoy Elementary, the YMCA/BELL Summer Learning Pilot helped 111 young “scholars” boost math and reading scores by 6.6 months and 5.8 months, respectively.
The pilot was one of three that BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) sponsored through Y-USA and the Wallace Foundation. In Orlando, Chicago and Hartford, CT, student achievement soared, which proves that this is a model that can be replicated anywhere.
Just as terrific were results from Union Park Middle School, where a grant from JPMorgan Chase helped launch the YMCA After School Zone Pilot. Like McCoy, Union Park is a Title 1 school where students are at higher risk of school failure.
By the end of the 5-week program, 68% of students achieved significant gains in reading, compared to about 47% in a normal school year.
Given these incredible “wins,” we’ve set a goal to raise $1 million to offer these programs at 10 additional sites this summer. To do it, we need strong partners. To help, please contact Shannon Matthews, YMCA Vice President of Youth Development, at (407) 895-8609 or email [email protected].