As 2012 quickly comes to a close, it's fun to briefly look back at the accomplishments of the Tampa Y over the last 12 months. We're fortunate...we have much to be proud of this year! Too many accomplishments to list them all, so below are just a few. But, I would be remiss if I didn't give credit where credit is due...to the Y's talented staff team who bring the Y's cause to life on a daily basis. Y staff are a dedicated bunch and I'm proud of the great work they do strengthening the foundations of the Tampa Bay community. My thanks!
On Valentine's Day, February 14th, we opened Layla's House, an early learning facility in Sulphur Springs that is working to train parents and caregivers to be their child's first teacher. You see, young children in Sulphur Springs often enter kindergarten behind, and fall further behind each year. We've partnered with Champions for Children to help get more kids ready to learn and prepared for kindergarten. It's been a year of discovery...what works and what doesn't in one of Tampa's high-need neighborhoods. Layla's House is the entry point for a pipeline full of programs and supports that is helping break the cycle of poverty through education for youth growing up in the neighborhood.
We introduced in 2012 Infant Swimming Resource to the Tampa Bay community. ISR is an innovative approach to teaching very young children (as young as six months old) self-rescue skills should they fall into a body of water (pool, lake, etc.). The State of Florida and Tampa Bay in particular, has an unacceptably high rate of accidental death due to drowning among young children (one of the highest in the nation). Not one more child should drown...and the Y is committed to doing something about this! Lessons are now available at two Y branches and will expand further in 2013 as more instructors are trained.
Despite the continuing sluggish economy, contributions to the Y's annual community support campaign increased 15-percent this year. The Y continues to reach out and care for vulnerable youth, families and older adults, delivering significant benefit as one of the Bay Area's oldest and longest serving public charities. Thanks to all Y donors for your support of this important, life-changing work.
Lastly, the Y is helping close the achievement gap between children growing up in low-income communities and their middle/upper income counterparts. Research tells us kids from low-income neighborhoods enter kindergarten behind academically and routinely fall further and further behind. We piloted this past summer, with support from YUSA and the Triad Foundation, a summer learning loss program for 1st and 2nd grade youth at Graham Elementary School with promising results (learning gains were achieved and documented vs. learning loss that regularly occurs). We look forward to expanding on this pilot with Graham youth again in 2013! Thanks for all your support of the Y.
Happy Holidays, and see you at the Y in 2013!
President / CEO
Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA