Latest News (62)
As a single mother, Torrie Williams says she depends on the school system and community for help with her 10-year-old son, Tory Giles. "Typically, I don't look forward to summer break because of the high cost of childcare,” shares Torrie. Generous donations funded a full-paid camp scholarship for Tory at the Bob Gilbertson Central City Family YMCA last summer.
Torrie says not only did Y Summer Camp provide a fun and safe environment for her son, but it also prepared him academically for the 4th grade. “The educational program is a life saver. The time set aside to incorporate math, reading and science specific to his grade level is remarkable,” says Torrie. “Because of the daily lessons, he is faster, sharper and more accurate.”
To help community families, the Tampa YMCA also provides free breakfast and lunch, not only to our summer campers but to any child in the community. “There is a huge comfort in knowing he is getting two nutritious meals, five days a week. That takes a great deal of financial burden off me,” claims Torrie.
At the Tampa Y, we believe when a child’s basic needs are met, he or she is free to focus on learning. We’re committed to closing the academic achievement gap between children from low-income households and their middle/upper-income peers with a focus on academics in our summer camp, afterschool and other youth development programs. To find out more or register for Y Summer Camp, click here.
Pictured above: Summer camp keeps 10-year-old Tory’s mind and body active at the Central City Y.
The past motivated Hilary Konigsberg to start her three-year-old daughter in swim lessons at a very young age. "We put Maggie in as soon as we could because our son jumped in a pool at two years old and didn't know how to swim. Thankfully, we were standing there and watching him,” recalls Hilary. “We want all of our children to understand how to be safe near water.”
Maggie has been taking swim lessons at the North Brandon and Campo Family YMCAs for more than two years. In that time, Hilary has seen her daughter blossom. “Maggie has become very confident in the water, overly so,” says Hilary. “She can get herself to the side and get out without any assistance. It puts me at ease, slightly, that she has this skill down.”
Y swim programs not only teach technique, but also provide a safe place to meet new friends and develop life skills. “Maggie has gained confidence and independence through this program,” shares Hilary.
At the Tampa Y, we’re truly committed to drowning prevention and encourage all children, teens and adults to learn how to swim, like Maggie. It’s especially important in Hillsborough County, which regularly ranks among the highest counties nationally for drowning cases in children under the age of four. Basic swimming skills and water safety practices save lives every day. Click here for more information.
Pictured above: Three-year-old Maggie learns how to swim at the North Brandon and Campo Family YMCAs.
Our lifeguards are trained and ready to save lives! The Tampa Y is committed to water safety and uses a comprehensive, rigorous training program to prepare lifeguards to be vigilant and effectively guard our pools, lakes and splash areas. We strongly believe in ongoing training and development, requiring monthly in-service trainings and facility-specific instruction for our lifeguards.
Last month, 130 lifeguards across the Tampa YMCA association participated in our annual Summer Safety Training at the Bob Sierra Youth and Family Center. For two hours, lifeguards are trained in vigilance, overall safety of Y pools and expectations of a Tampa YMCA lifeguard. The team also hears from aquatic experts, top Y executives and aquatic directors from our ten pool locations.
Tonya Roy, a risk consultant with the Redwoods Group, provided the keynote speech during the training. “She was quick to say we had a wonderful group that was engaged, on time and well trained,” shares Associate Vice President of Risk Management Joe Mangione. “We have a great group of guards that are ready to keep our pools safe this summer.”
Pictured above: 130 lifeguards across the Tampa YMCA association participated in our annual Summer Safety Training at the Bob Sierra Youth and Family Center.
10-year-old Amarion Lock has his sights set on being a professional football player. But, in order to get there, he knows he has to focus on school. “It’s important to read and I tell him he won’t make it if he doesn’t get an education,” shares his mother, Framaine Brock. Amarion is already on the right track with the Y READS! program at Sulphur Springs Elementary School. It’s an intensive literacy tutoring program that pairs a trained adult with one or two children for two hours each week.
The YMCA of the USA selected Amarion and his family to document their Y READS! experience through video storytelling. They sent him a complementary iPad and asked the Tampa Y to help capture his story of impact on camera.
Framaine says Amarion’s biggest challenge is “…being embarrassed for not pronouncing the words right or someone picking on him because he’s taking too long to read the sentence. He doesn’t want anyone to be around when he’s trying to read.” But, all that’s changing as Amarion gains more confidence. “When I see a hard word, I just go with it and sound it out,” shares Amarion. “What I like most about reading is talking about my book with my mom. I love to write about the books.”
Framaine notices a big change in Amarion since starting Y READS! “He has come a long way. His reading has really improved,” testifies Framaine. “He’s starting to read more books. I see that he enjoys it. He tries to tell someone else how to pronounce words now.”
Y READS! teaches Amarion more than reading skills. It’s boosting his self-esteem, imagination and his ability to succeed in and out of school. And no matter the career path he chooses, Amarion knows his mom is his number one fan. She says, “I really want him to get above level in reading, continue striving to be the best, and to know that everyone makes mistakes.”
Click here to watch Amarion’s video storytelling project in its entirety.
Pictured above: Click on the video to follow Amarion Lock as he improves his reading skills through the Y READS! Program.
Teaching children how to be safe around water is not a luxury; it is a necessity. The Tampa YMCAs drowning prevention programs teach kids essential water safety skills, which can open up a world of possibilities for them to satisfy their curiosity safely.
At the Tampa Y this summer, you may notice kids proudly showing off green wrist bands. This is a result of the Y’s Go for Green program. Each Monday, summer campers are swim tested. Those who do not pass the swim test must wear a red band. All red band swimmers receive swim lessons throughout the week - at no extra charge. The goal is to teach all Y campers the skills required to pass the swim test and get a green band.
When Angelo and Lorenzo Blanco both started summer camp last year at the Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA, neither knew how to swim well. Angelo was able to pass the swim test after three weeks of lessons and Lorenzo after five weeks. "The swim test was the hardest thing ever, but I knew I could do it,” says Angelo. “When I passed the test, it was the best moment of my life!"
Now, Lorenzo loves swimming so much, he takes group swim lessons at the Y and wants to join the swim team one day. The brothers' mother, Trish, calls the Go for Green program a blessing. For the first time, she feels comfortable with the boys in and around the water. Whether they’re at the beach or at a friend’s pool, Trish says she now has peace of mind.
Go for Green is made possible through the generous support of the Tampa Bay Rays, United Way Suncoast and the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. We’re working together to ensure not one more child drowns in the Tampa Bay area.
Pictured above: Lorenzo learned how to swim during summer camp at the Northwest Y.
Late last month, more than 2,100 children, teens and adults got a jump start on summer during the Tampa Ys Healthy Kids Day® at Curtis Hixon Park. When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles – or gaps – that prevent them from reaching their full potential, related to hunger, water safety, learning, safe spaces to play and health. The Tampa Y helps kids “hop the gap” and achieve more, providing a safe to place to learn, stay healthy and build friendships.
YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, celebrated at nearly 1,300 Ys across the country, aims to get more kids moving and learning, so they can keep up the habit all summer long – a critical out-of-school time for kids’ health. At the free community event, kids received encouragement to stay physically and intellectually active all summer long. Families also learned easy healthy habits to replicate at home.
From bounce houses, sports and games to face-painting, caricature artists and free vision screenings…kids and families got to try a variety of fun activities. Families also sampled fresh fruits and healthy snacks. The Tampa Y wants to thank the following community partners, which helped educate families on how to lead healthier lives at the free event:
Tobacco Free Florida I Quit with Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
Graphix Screen Printing
DJ Jake Dela Cruz
Pictured above: During the Y’s Healthy Kids Day, children of all ages participated in a variety of fun activities, such as obstacle courses.
This week is National Volunteer Week and the perfect opportunity to put volunteerism on a platform. Not only does the Tampa YMCA depend on volunteers to fulfill its cause-driven mission, but the Y also connects people to the community thorough service projects that inspire giving back. One of the ways we do this is through our teen programs.
For example, every month Teen Achievers from the Bob Gilbertson Central City YMCA participate in a service project, including a year-long engagement with the Children’s Cancer Center. “This is wonderful for our teens,” says Senior Program Director Wayne Johnson. “Although some Teen Achievers are at a disadvantage economically, nothing compares to dealing with cancer or life-threatening health issues. It takes the focus off of them and their woes and enables them to appreciate the struggles of fellow human beings.”
Pictured above: During a recent service project, Y Teen Achievers from Sligh Middle School spent their Saturday helping to restore an inner-city church.
During a recent home game, the Tampa Bay Lightning honored Wayne Johnson as the 36th Lightning Community Hero of the season. Wayne received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program. He generously donated the dollars to both the Tampa YMCA and New Life Tabernacle.
As senior program director for the YMCA’s Teen Achievers program, Wayne works with over 750 at-risk youth across Hillsborough and East Pasco counties. Prior to that, Wayne served as an educator speaking to youth on dating violence. After his college roommate was killed during a domestic dispute, Wayne has dedicated the last 25 years advocating for domestic violence victims and others in underprivileged situations.
Wayne is also a retired member of the U.S. Military, serving eight years in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Joint Endeavor. He received the Army Achievement Medal, National Service Defense Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, Kuwait Liberation Medal and the NATO Medal.
The Tampa Y is extremely fortunate to have Wayne on our staff team, teaching kids to have hope, chase their college/career dreams and strive to break the generational cycle of poverty. Congratulations Wayne and thank you for your commitment and generosity to the Y!
Pictured above: Click on the video to see how the Tampa Bay Lightning honored YMCA Senior Program Director Wayne Johnson as its Lightning Community Hero.
The Tampa Ys finest volunteer basketball coaches were honored last month at the 3rd annual Naismith Award Banquet. The event, held in partnership with University of South Florida Athletics, recognized the following 2015 award recipients for their commitment to the skill and character development of youth:
• Coach Dennis Serrano from the Bob Sierra Y
• Coach Arica Lanier from the North Brandon Y
• Coach Steve Wilson from the Campo Y
• Coach Chris Williams from the East Pasco Y
• Coach Glen Donald from the South Tampa Y
• Coach Lindy Lawrence from the New Tampa Y
• Coach Hank Hurst from the Northwest Hillsborough Y
• Coach Bart Borders from the Plant City Y
“Our challenge to better the lives of the children and families we serve is greatly enhanced and made possible through the generous support of our volunteer coaches,” Tampa Y Executive Amanda Walker told award recipients. “Thank you for all that you do for the children and families you serve and for the commitment you have made to build a better community through YMCA Basketball.”
As a cause-driven, non-profit organization, the Tampa YMCA relies heavily on the support of volunteers to help coach sports teams, plan events, raise funds, and handle hundreds of other key responsibilities. Click here, if you’re interested in giving back in a significant way to your community.
Pictured above: The 3rd annual Naismith Award Banquet recognized Tampa Y’s finest basketball coaches (pictured here with their sports directors) on March 7th.
The Tampa Bay Lightning invited the Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA to participate in a street hockey tournament last month. In all, 15 teams participated, including multiple Boys & Girls Clubs, parks and recreation departments and Hillsborough Out-of-School-Time (HOST) programs. As the only Y there, the Northwest Y came in 4th place.
“It was a really cool experience for the kids involved. We even picked up a few kids who didn’t have a team to play with and they became honorary YMCA players for the day,” says Childcare and Sports Director Chris Roese. “Our YMCA showed a tremendous amount of good sportsmanship and we definitely represented our organization in a great way.”
The Y thanks the Tampa Bay Lightning for giving our afterschool kids the chance to be a part of a tournament team. Many life lessons were learned during the nine games over six hours. We look forward to putting together even more Y hockey teams for the fun tournament next year!
Pictured above: Y Success Afterschool kids participated in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s street hockey tournament.