Putting Youth First in Washington County

In 2012 Youth First was fortunate to become a program of the YMCA as we joined forces to meet the needs of youth and families in Washington County.  Each day we have members of our community come to us with even more needs for new programming or to expand programming and their ideas are great! (They came from some of you receiving this email.)  Here are just a few of them:

  • Keep Encouraging Youth to Succeed (KEYS): Expand our program focused on three days of leadership development workshops to high school age youth to prepare them for pursuing a career.  Workshops focused on resume building, interviewing, communication and professionalism in the workplace. For each student who registers we try to match them with a local business for job shadowing or paid internships.  This gives youth the opportunity to explore local career opportunities while also giving local businesses an opportunity to develop a pipeline of talent to recruit back to the community for available positions.
  • Arts & Music Programs: Due to budget cuts in schools and our rural location, youth and families are continually looking for opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities focused on music and art, a major interest of our youth.  We recognize that not all youth will become involved with the Y through our youth sports programs which we are known most for. We would like to add programming that is focused on exploring creativity to give youth another opportunity to get plugged in to a support network.  Ideas we have considered are guitar lessons, painting workshops, pottery workshops, writer’s block for youth, open mic night for youth, photography and more.
  • Safe Sitter Program: In the past local organizations offered a safe sitter program to train tween/teenage youth caring for children in the summer with the opportunity to receive formal training on how to be a safe babysitter, handle emergencies and receive CPR and First Aid training.  We feel this is a need that is critical to educating youth about the huge responsibility of caring for younger children while also ensuring the safety of children in our community.
  • Family First Events: Being a rural community our youth and families do not have easy access to entertainment options such as a bowling alley or theatre where they can go on family outings and bond.  We would like to introduce a monthly event that is focused on strengthening the family unit and putting Family First. In a few instances we would go off site for an event such as a canoe trip. Here are examples of what the monthly events might look like: January – Breakfast with Dr. Seuss, February – Make Your Own Pottery, March – Lights, Camera, Action, April – Community Service Day, May – Mother’s Day Event, June – Father’s Day Daddy & Daughter Ball, July – Blue River Canoe Rental Trip, August – Outdoor Movie Night, September – Trip to Wonder Valley, October – Piper Flight Museum, November – Fun with Food, December – Family First Christmas Brunch.
  • AfterHours for HS Students: Our high school age youth need a fun, safe place to go hang out with their friends all months of the year, especially weekends.  We would like to start offering after hours one Friday a month to open our doors after our usual closing hours to the high school youth of the community.  During afterhours we could have everything from corn hole and ping pong tournaments to open mic night for kids to find an outlet to perform. For those kids who don’t want structured activities but just a place to meet up with friends and hang out, we could be that place!!!!  We would like to provide refreshments and really work with youth who visit to make the AfterHours want they want and are looking for.  It is a great opportunity to give youth a voice and ownership!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to introduce just one of these programs in the coming year?  With your help we can!  Each of these programs is a vehicle to moving youth towards higher self-esteem and a greater sense of purpose, important developmental assets.  Will you join me in supporting the Annual Giving Campaign at the Y?  Support for the Annual Giving Campaign goes to provide scholarships to youth and families to participate in programs and membership as well as introduce new services to the community.  Last year we raised almost $30,000 and we hope to reach that goal again this year!  We are 40% of the way there but we need your help. With every gift of at least $75 we have a t-shirt to give you to remind you of the gratitude we have because you felt MOVED to Give!  The shirts say “I WAS MOVED TO GIVE”  with the YMCA logo and branch name.

So, I ask you, have you been moved by the impact Youth First and the Y is making in Washington County? I hope the answer is yes and you feel moved to join us in our work with your gift.  To give, stop by our front desk, email me or visit  to donate online through our website.  Thank you for your time and for all you do to put youth first in Washington County!