Summertime is Y Time: And We Have the Outcomes to Prove It

by Jim Ferber   As the school year ends, many local families are again facing the daunting challenge of keeping their children safe, active and learning over the summer.   With dual-working or single-parent households now the norm – and quality, affordable summer programs difficult to find -- it’s always my nightmare that thousands of local kids will be left home alone.   This, despite that fact that research shows that idle, unsupervised time often leads to summer learning loss, weight gain and a greater likelihood that kids will get into trouble.   At the Y, we’ve long been aware of these issues. And we’re taking action through a strong portfolio of summer programs focused on values, reading, wellness and alleviating family stress.   It's why we say Summertime is Y Time, and we have the outcomes to prove it.   All of our summer programs are built on the success of our Y Afterschool Zone program, established 14 years ago in partnership with Orange County Government. Since then, we’ve tracked the outcomes of nearly 150,000 students, 80% of whom were able to achieve a 2.0 GPA or better, while also experiencing significantly higher rates of attendance and lower rates of juvenile delinquency.   These outcomes speak volumes. They’re also attracting the attention of many national partners, including BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation who are investing two new Y summer reading pilots at McCoy Elementary and Union Park Middle School.   Both are Title 1 schools where students, parents and teachers need all the support we can provide. At the Y, we’re proud to lead the way. And we can’t wait to see – and share – our results as these pilots become national models for how other communities can work together to support children and education.   Jim Ferber President/CEO YMCA of Central Florida