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Encounter with Young Member Reveals Value of Scholarships

By Clare Sanford, Early Childhood Education Enrollment and Nutrition Manager, YWCA of Minneapolis
February 13, 2012
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I represented the YWCA of Minneapolis at a community resource fair this week, and had the good fortune to meet a wonderful young man, whom I’ll call Jamarcus. His eyes lit up when he saw our table. “You’re from the YWCA!” He marched right up and engaged in conversation with me, an unknown adult, which this former elementary school teacher knows is not typical of a nine-year-old.  He told me that his family liked to visit our Midtown location, where his favorite activity was swimming. He also liked the whirlpool — but only with proper adult supervision, he said. His family didn’t have a car, so everyone walked to the Y, which was okay with Jamarcus because that meant even more exercise.

He said he’d heard people say that walking from the couch to the refrigerator was exercise. Was this true? And did riding his skateboard count as exercise? And walking his dog around the block, was that exercise? The questions continued. He’d heard that some people are getting too heavy because they sit on couches a lot. How did sitting on a couch make you get big? Did I know that his mom was exercising too, and she was losing weight, and that she was almost into the 100s on the scale? Could I believe that he ate so much spaghetti last night that his mom had to get up repeatedly to fix him more plates? Well, I said, you’re probably hungry because of all that exercising you do!

Twenty minutes passed and Jamarcus turned up at the table again, this time with his mother and toddler brother in tow. He’d literally run home to ask his mom if she wanted to come to the fair too. As talkative as her son, she said that her kids loved the Y and that she loved the ability to drop her littlest one in the Play Zone for a couple hours of uninterrupted workout time. We shared a laugh that Jamarcus had bragged about her weight loss. She told me that she and her children’s father were both striving to find work, that she received YWCA membership through a scholarship, and that she was so grateful for that opportunity. She pays what she can when she can, she said, because the Y is such a resource for her family.

Until last night, I’d only read about the YWCA’s scholarships, but now I’ve met some of the many faces behind those scholarships. There’s one delightful and articulate little boy who cares about fitness and has been given a place to explore that interest. There’s one struggling mother taking charge of her own health and wellness while instilling those values in her children.

And there’s one YWCA staff member energized and so proud to be part of an organization that lives its values in and for our community.