FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
YMCA Military Families Program
Last year approximately 1500 soldiers in Nebraska were deployed oversees. According to recent census data, 6 in 10 troops deployed are married and nearly half of these families have children.
"The ARC Buffalo County is very pleased that we're able to partner with the Kearney Family YMCA. Over the last few years, we've been able to really enrich our programming by partnering with the Y" says Kristin Larsen, Executive Co-director of the Arc of Buffalo County. "There's just a culture of acceptance and tolerance at the Y that has really made this a unique community for families who have children with disabilities."
At the Y, we believe everyone should have a chance to succeed and belong. Arc night at the Y is really something special. "Every Friday for the last three or four years, we've [the Arc] been coming in free of charge with the folks with developmental disabilities, typically teenagers that just want a place to hang out or practice their volleyball skills and go swimming. That wouldn't have been possible without the YMCA's role in providing a place to feel accepted."
The Adaptive Easter Egg hunt is another great event the Y hosts. "The Kearney
Family YMCA opens up their indoor gym so that we can have an indoor Easter egg hunt. That's a huge service that the Kearney Y is offering to those families! I'm very pleased with the acceptance, and the culture of inclusion at the Y thatyou don't necessarily see everywhere. I think it makes a big difference in our community that we're not aware of. You can really see these [families with disabilities] come in and they feel like, "Oh this is really a great place, there's a culture of acceptance here. I want to return."
The Y has been invaluable to Special Olympics. We wanted to start a volleyball program and we had no place at all to practice, so we approached the Y and they said, "Oh sure! Practice here!" Next thing we knew, the Y said "Wow, we would love to help in any way possible! What can we do to help you?" Before long we were swimming there, and then flag football got started, so we were practicing flag football at the Y. Without the Y, we wouldn't be able to practice.
The Y has opened their doors to folks with disabilities, and I think that's totally awesome because so many people think 'Oh, they don't belong', not necessarily in the community, but doing athletic things. [Most people] don't know how to involve them. The really cool think about the Y, is that they have graciously opened their arms and embraced folks with disabilities.
The nice thing is that I see so many of our athletes walking into the building and they are recognized. Everybody's saying 'hi' and they're saying their names, and so they're recognizing them as people, and not just someone with a disability. That is in itself pretty awesome. To [the athletes], that matters. And it IS important."