Before he won the Nobel Peace prize, before he delivered his world-changing “I have a dream” speech, and before he became an ordained pastor … Martin Luther King, Jr. was just another kid at the Y.
In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we want to honor one of the most influential civil rights activists our world has ever known. We also want every child to recognize he or she has the potential to do just as much good for society.
Kids have the power to change the world. Here are five ways we’re helping them find that power, through programs that nurture body, mind and spirit:
1. By teaching the value of positive competition and teamwork.
Y Sports and swim leagues introduce scrimmages and competition into weekly technique lessons. Over time, kids grow into healthy ideas of what it means to win, lose and compete alongside and against peers. In this safe environment, kids learn performance has no bearing on their worth. Their commitment to themselves and the team is what counts most.
2. By nurturing kids’ natural sense of curiosity and adventure.
We love showing kids new ways of seeing the world around them. Our day camps and programs at YMCA Camp Greenville are the perfect way to help kids form a new relationship with the outdoors, with other children, and with their own inner explorers. Camps keep kids active and alert with fun challenges that let them try out new skills and ideas.
3. By exposing kids to a variety of backgrounds and life experiences.
We welcome and invite people from every race, belief, tradition, culture, gender, age, ability and economic status to join our team. Kids notice this inclusiveness, and it becomes part of their “normal.” As a result, they have the chance to grow into more sensitive, empathetic, compassionate, understanding adults.
4. By providing a safe and stimulating environment after school.
Our Afterschool Program emphasizes learning through play with activities that encourage social skills, develop character, and teach critical thinking. Our chilcare team is composed of caring, supportive adults who are committed to creating a safe and active atmosphere for young minds.
5. By living our core values of Caring, Honesty, Responsibility and Respect.
We measure our success in terms of how well we engage communities in our three areas of focus: Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. Every child who walks through our doors sees our mission in action and incorporates these values into his or her own behavior.
A version of this blog post originally ran on the YMCA of the Twin Cities Website.