Letter to the Editor by Amber Smith-Heinert

Dear Editor,

When I initially joined the Missouri Valley Family YMCA I believed, like many, that it was a wonderful facility that allowed me to achieve my fitness goals. What I soon found out, in addition to the amazing facility, was the impact the Y has on our kids and our community. The Y understands that in order to truly impact a community we must invest in our kids and our families

The Strong Kids Campaign, supported by generous individuals and businesses in our community, funds five key programs. These programs allow kids and families a safe place to learn, grow and thrive.

Splash: In 2011, 928 second-grade children from both public and private schools received free swim instruction through the SPLASH program. Some of these kids had never had the chance to learn the life-long skill of swimming. The kids gained confidence in the water and the life-saving skills of water safety.

Childcare financial assistance: The Strong Kids Campaign provides financial assistance for a safe and quality child care program. It allows families who are in need of assistance, but do not qualify under other types of assistance, the opportunity to work hard and provide for their family with the knowledge that their children are safe and happy at the Y.

Summer day camp: Many families are faced with lack of quality care for their kids when the school year ends. Last year, more than 120 kids in our local community received a scholarship to the Y’s Summer Day Camp. The Y Day Camp allows kids to be outdoors in a safe and supervised environment with an emphasis on the key values of honesty, respect, responsibility and caring. Without a scholarship these kids would not have been able to experience this wonderful program.

Free youth recreation pass: The Y takes great pride that they have provided free youth passes for students in kindergarten through the sixth grade. Since 1981, the Y has allowed these kids access to use the gyms, pools, racquetball courts, attend kids’ fitness classes and participate in the Y Rec program.

Financial assistance for families: In 2011, the Y provided more than 500 families in the Bismarck-Mandan community with financial assistance towards Y memberships. The chance to bond as a family through physical activity is truly a life-changing opportunity.

Without the generosity of you and our community these kids and families would not have had the opportunity to experience these amazing and life-changing programs. I ask that yo  invest in the future of this community by investing in our children. The amount of money is not as important as the impact that you will have on these kids and families. When we all work together to strengthen youth and families we build a stronger, healthier community.

To learn how you can support the Y’s annual Strong Kids Campaign, please visit www.bismarckymca.org or call 701-255-1525.

Amber Smith-Heinert
2012 Strong Kids Campaign Chairwoman

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