Annual and Capital Campaign Development Associate
YMCA of Greater Cleveland
Every year during the month of June, kids across Northeast Ohio jump for joy because for the next two and a half months there will be no school bells, no homework, and no waiting for the bus. For some kids, summer break comes with the promise of family vacations, long days playing outside, and jars full of fireflies. But for many other kids, ten weeks with no school means there is nowhere safe for them to spend their days. It means that they will have no one to help them sharpen their reading or math skills, and they will continue to fall behind their peers. It means they will be spending more time around water, and may not possess the skills to stay safe. Summer should be a carefree time filled with fun and happy memories. Luckily, that is where the Y comes in!
The Y is the leading nonprofit organization that addresses specific gaps that youth face in the summer months, gaps in: hunger, health, learning, water safety, and safe spaces. At the Greater Cleveland YMCA, our focus is on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, and we offer many programs to help youth “Hop The Gap” in these five high-risk areas. Unsupervised youth are at an increased risk for juvenile crime, accidents, substance abuse, and dropping out of school. Y programs such as summer camp, youth movement classes, and youth sports leagues give kids an opportunity to be active and have fun in a supervised environment. The teen centers at our Downtown, Warrensville Heights, and West Park branches give teens a safe space to hang out, make new friends, and find support from caring adults. In an effort to increase water safety within our communities (drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-14), eleven of our branches offered YSplash, a free program to members and non-members alike that promotes water safety for children. This past May, 57 kids learned skills that will keep them safe in and near water thanks to the program.
It is no secret that today’s youth are facing record high levels of obesity due to poor nutrition and a chronic lack of exercise. This issue is magnified during the summer months, when many kids spend countless hours in front of the television or computer screen, and do not have access to healthy school lunches. 80% of U.S. children do not meet the minimum recommended level of physical activity per week. The YMCA of Greater Cleveland sports camp, which currently has nearly 600 youth enrolled, gives children ages 6-12 the opportunity to learn the importance of teamwork and build lasting friendships, all while staying active and healthy. Children must also be given the ability to exercise and enrich their minds during their time away from school. Over 1,000 children are currently enrolled in our summer day camp programs, where they go on regular field trips that stimulate their curiosity and intellectual growth. Fine arts programs at the Vermilion, West Shore, and French Creek branches give kids opportunities to get creative and develop a talent such as gymnastics or guitar, while our fine arts camp offers even more opportunity for creative play and growth with a focus on art, music, and drama.