Guest Column: United Way dollars support swim lessons at Y
Published 9:00 am Sunday, June 26, 2016
Guest Column by Dennis Dieser
United Way dollars allow the Family Y to offer sliding fees for all of its out-of-school time activities ensuring no child is denied access to programs due to inability to pay. Youth development is a main focus of the Albert Lea Family Y, and one area not to be overlooked is swim lessons for youth. There is opportunity to participate in swim lessons throughout the summer. In a state and community with so many lakes, it is important that all youth get the opportunity to learn how to swim. Learning proper swimming skills can make all the difference for children’s safety when they are in and around water. Families are ensured access to the lessons by the financial assistance to those who cannot afford to pay. The positive impact that these lessons have is never ending. Without the support of the United Way, less youth in the community would have the opportunity. Last year alone over 50 families were supported with swimming lessons.
A great story we like to share is of a single parent mom who got her son enrolled in swim lessons thanks to the financial assistance she received. It looked as if the lessons went well, and her son was getting a lot out of it. On the last day of lessons the mom came to the front desk rather upset in tears. The staff asked if there was a problem with the lessons. She said no, but that now her son could swim and wanted to go to family open swim. The only problem was she could not swim. This was devastating to hear from a mother who was trying to gain activities to do with her son. The Family Y was able to assist her with swim lessons, allowing her the chance to spend time with her son in the water. It ended up being a story with a great ending. We as a community need to continue stories with great endings every day.
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Sometimes it is difficult to ask for support to participate. People need to understand if there is a need to fill out the paperwork and financial information so that the Y can offer them support. By asking, many doors can be opened for their children. The more out-of-school time activities we can offer youth, the more successful we can help these youth become. Besides swim lessons, the Y also has assistance available for school-age childcare, summer day camp, youth sports, youth special events and youth memberships. United Way gives the Albert Lea Family Y the ability to transform lives every day through the little things that many of us take for granted. Thanks to the United Way, the Albert Lea Family Y is able to offer opportunities for all youth in Freeborn County regardless of need.
Dennis Dieser is the executive director at the Albert Lea Family Y.