History has a way of repeating itself…in a good way…
To be honest I forgot all about the Y. It hasn’t been part of my life for many years, until now.
My brother and I did everything together until he decided to stop playing sports and being active. He started to gain weight. When he was a freshman in high school kids started picking on him because of his weight. One day he got fed up. We drove by the Y everyday on the way to school and he asked me to stop there because he had decided he wanted to see what it was about. My mom signed him up for a youth membership. He started going to the Y every single day. I don’t know exactly what he did there. All I know is he found a sense of purpose by going to the Y. He made new friends and then joined the weightlifting team at school. The teasing and getting picked on stopped.
Fast forward to today. My son is only 8. He is a sensitive – old soul. He’s outgoing, funny and well behaved.
He has been kicked, punched and spit on. He has been called names and come home crying because he didn’t understand why some kids were so mean to him. He didn’t understand why some kids at his afterschool care treated him like that or were allowed to treat him that way. My husband and I felt stuck. This was what we could afford.
Then the Y came back into my life. My son got the opportunity to attend the Y afterschool program in Port Orange. When this opportunity came up I was relieved and still nervous about how he would be accepted by the other children. You never know, and as a mother I have found myself in constant worry to know he is more than just ok, he is happy and healthy and being treated well. Every day he is so happy to go to the Y and not the “other place.” After his first week at the Y he said to me “Mom, I really like the YMCA. They are all so nice and the other kids help me with my homework.” I continue to ask him daily about the Y. I get answers like “Fantastic!” “Awesome!” “Best day ever!” Every single day he tells me how much fun he has and how much he loves the Y.
Recently he ran in the Lap the Track with the YMCA kids. What I saw brought tears to my eyes in the freezing cold. When we arrived to the event every kid said hi to him and was happy to see him. All the counselors too. I watched him engage with Mr. Marcel. He and my son did this fun handshake. My son wanted to do it 10 times and Mr. Marcel complied with a smile and excitement each time. That may not seem like much to anyone else, to me it meant everything.
The Y provides more than a safe place for kids. I can tell that they treat every single child in their program with the utmost care and concern. Kids are taught respect, responsibility and about friendship. They truly are building up kids every day at the Y in Port Orange.
Thank you for making a positive impact on not just my son, but me too.
— A Grateful Mom of a Y Afterschool Child