“Although I was an active senior, I still was not getting the consistent exercise that I needed. After coming to the Y as a guest, I knew this was where I needed to be to stay healthy. I quickly joined fun fitness classes that got me moving, but what I really wanted was to learn to swim. All of my life I’ve had a fear of water. The aquatic staff at the Y has been amazing, helping me conquer each step along the way with encouragement and compassion, and now I can swim and float…with no fear.”
- A grateful senior YMCA Member
FROM ONE GENERATION TO THE NEXT
“My parents first brought me to the Y as a child. I was able to spend time and enjoy all that the Y had to offer, and it was an important part of my childhood. Now as a parent, I want my daughter to experience all the fun of overnight camp, as well as have the opportunity to discover and participate, as I did, in the Achiever’s Program. The Y has many resources, classes, and programs for families, and I think the Y is a great place for children—to grow and learn.”
- A lifelong YMCA Member Y Achiever, Parent Achiever & Adult Achiever
A DIFFICULT JOURNEY MADE EASIER
“My wife loves being a member of the Y—and attends the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program for cancer survivors. Here is where she found her strength after cancer with friendship and support from the other program participants and instructors. Since joining the Y myself, I now come to swim and recently took part in the Masters Swim meet! We love going to the Y together to keep healthy, energized, and fit. I am very grateful that at the Y, my wife found her smile again.”
- Husband and wife YMCA Members and LIVESTRONG® participant
Strong Kids Campaign Mission Moment
My name is Diana and I was asked to share a “mission moment”, my family’s experience with the YMCA. I was honored to do so. Here is our story:
The Y opened up their hearts and minds this past summer to provide my two children Aaron and Ethan, with a wonderful summer camp experience through the Tri-Town YMCA in Wethersfield.
Our son Aaron was one week away from his 6th birthday when he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in October 2008. We will never forget that day; the call from the pediatrician, spending nine hours at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center…confused, overwhelmed and scared. Eventually, over the next few years our family learned how to live with diabetes. We learned about carbohydrates and insulin and needles and glucose levels. We kept food journals, weighed every bite of food and every ounce of fluid Aaron consumed. We had to monitor his exercise and how it affected his sugar – when he ate, what he ate….needless to say, everything changed. It wasn’t easy to have Aaron go to a friend’s house for a play date…who would want to take that responsibility? We were never sure if we would scare the parents by explaining how Aaron needed to monitor his sugars and what to do if his sugar went low or high. It certainly was a lot of information for a simple play date! Explaining the signs and symptoms to his coaches, his teachers, attending school field trips (afraid his condition would not be monitored closely), figuring out how to travel with all those emergency supplies!!!
Now it is old hat… all of our friends and family know what to do and are comfortable with having Aaron for play dates, sleep overs and even activities without either my husband Scott or myself being with him the entire time. We were very fortunate.
Aaron has two friends who were also diagnosed with diabetes, one in his previous day care and one at school. We never had to file a 504 plan because his day care program, our school and the nurse were supportive from day one. His nurse and previous day care staff came to the diabetic clinic after he was diagnosed and then again when he went on the pump for insulin therapy. We were in constant communication and I always felt that he was in good hands. That is invaluable, especially for two working parents. He was never treated differently by his friends, our friends, family members, we never really saw Aaron as having a “disability”.
As we approached the end of the 2010 – 2011 school year, we began looking for a summer camp program for our children. They were aging out of the previous day care…they had been going there since they were six months old and were bored and wanted to be with kids their own age. They had friends that were going to be attending a Town Park and Recreation summer camp program. It offered them a variety of new activities and experiences that they were truly looking forward to…and they would be with friends they had known for years.
I contacted this camp prior to registration to discuss the minimal accommodations Aaron would need relating to his diabetes. They refused to let us register Aaron, stating that they would “…take our other child, but not the one with diabetes.” We were shocked and confused. Nothing like this had ever happened to us before. We tried to call the program many times and we never received a return call. Finally, after two months, and two weeks before the end of school they told us they had referred this to their Town Attorney and they would not speak to us. I know this sounds embellished, but that is exactly what happened…we felt ostracized, shocked, and a million other emotions. We had no idea what we were going to do to get our children into a summer program. This town agency never spoke with us and never even gave us a chance to discuss their concerns and for us to explain to them how independent Aaron was in managing his illness. My child was being labeled and we were devastated.
Then, there was the YMCA, warm, responsive, helpful, and most of all, willing to see Aaron as just another kid deserving a fun summer. They went right to work, talking to the Department of Health, to supervisors and colleagues to provide our family a seamless transition to the YMCA Camp in Wethersfield. They never said “no”… they always met us with warm, welcoming smiles and assured us the YMCA would make this work. And that they did, with a lot of hard work, going lots of extra miles, and great communication, they made all of us “unlabeled”.
I began to understand and realize that caring for a diabetic child can be scary. It brought me back to the day Aaron was diagnosed and how much I needed to learn, and how frightened I was that “something bad could happen” if I wasn’t on top of all the different issues. Shelly assured me her staff were capable and this would not be an issue. Shelly, Diana and Nicole came to the diabetic clinic, gave of their time to meet with us and Aaron’s APRN who trained them on how Aaron would utilize his insulin pump and what they would need to do to supervise him.
These staff exemplified the real mission behind the YMCA…Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. They were always welcoming every morning and my kids absolutely loved going every day. That had not been the case for the past few years in their prior day care. They were excited about all the activities, making new friends, frogging with Miss Nicole, archery with Mr. Taylor. My boys really bonded with Ben and Taylor. They looked up to them and could not wait every day to make sure ‘Mr. Ben and Mr. Taylor’ would be there. Every morning at drop off Miss Nicole was there with her effervescent smile. I found her genuine, caring, and I always left, knowing my kids would be safe and would have a fun-filled day.
The camp staff needed to ensure Aaron unplugged his pump before water activities and that he plugged it back into his site properly. They needed to supervise the amount of carbohydrates he entered into his pump. They carried around his camouflage diabetes bag, making it fun by telling Aaron it was just like the bag Indiana Jones wore in the movies! That was a hit! If they were nervous or apprehensive, they never once showed it - only assured me things were going well… and they were.
All the staff cared for my sons, they ensured they had fun, were safe, helped them make friends, negotiate issues and modeled wonderful behaviors and attitudes that my children carry with them.
Our family recently walked on October 2nd in East Hartford for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk for The Cure, a fundraiser to help fund research to find a cure for this disease. We raised over $1700.00 and 21 friends and family walked that day, including Diana. Diana and her friends raised money to donate to the walk (We also received a very generous “Group Donation” that a think may have come from other YMCA staff.) Miss Diana even showed up with a friend to walk with us that day. Aaron was so happy to see her there and was amazed that she would come and walk with him! It was an incredible act of Social Responsibility, embodying Healthy Living, kindness, and support that is rarely found today. Giving of one’s own free time and money for a greater cause, for others in need. Truly exemplifying the mission your agency promotes.
Now that summer is over, Aaron and Ethan spend their after school time with the Tri-Town YMCA staff at Hanmer School in Wethersfield. Diana and Debbie are always there…taking great care of my boys…sometimes the boys get a treat to see some of the other wonderful staff they knew from summer camp.
Aaron will be turning 9 this month. He is a vibrant, smart, funny, kid, who can be a handful at times. Ethan will be turning 7 in November. He is in 1st grade and has a great sense of humor, he is smart and loving and both of them are certainly “spirited children” which is just a nice way of saying they can be difficult and great at the same time.
The YMCA organization should be very proud to have employees like the staff at the Tri-Town YMCA. These are individuals who went out of their way, every day and then some, to care for my children and epitomize high standards of promoting creativity, individuality, self-esteem and empathy. They have been a blessing in our lives, and especially in Aaron’s.
Diana and Scott
Aaron and Ethan
Read To Succeed
Because the Y understands that the building of strong families requires that family members be functionally literate in order to participate in the decision making of community work, it offers Read to Succeed, a reading program for adults.
A special reading program designed for adults with reading, spelling, and writing difficulties, 1:1 individualized instruction, lessons taught by certified teachers.
This program is held at the Downtown Branch, Monday- Thursday 9:00am- Noon or 4:30pm – 8:00pm and you must be 18 years or older to participate.
Email Karen Theroux or Gail Rosin for more information.
Stability. Anticipation. Excitement.
This was the mood in our household in September, 2009. Our daughter, Martina, was starting kindergarten. I was nearing my degree in chiropractic medicine.
Suddenly, our world was shaken apart.
My wife died unexpectedly. Not only did her loss leave a huge personal void, it created financial anguish as she was supporting our family while I finished school.
Life has to go on, so when Martina started school, I needed care for her while I started my career. I had put together a patchwork of care arrangements that didn't always run smoothly. I believe that children and adults need to feel secure and safe in a predictable environment before they can process grief and loss. This on-the-fly care arrangement led me to worry Martina, wouldn’t be able to start rebuilding her life.
Fortunately, the YMCA was there to help. They provided financial assistance while Martina attended the Y's Kindergarten Care Program.
The Y brought stability to Martina’s life. The staff created a loving and supportive environment that allowed her to grow in a positive way. The Y’s program gave Martina a safe place to be a little girl, and gave me the peace of mind that I needed to build a new career and re-build our family.