YMCA of Greater Erie

new_songs editedZahra and her family decided to move here from Nigeria to provide a safe home with more opportunities.  Zahra and her daughter, Aisha, began Play & Learn when Aisha was 2.  Aisha was extremely shy and dependent on her mother, but, over time, with the Y staff, Aisha came out of her shell.  Now, she not only starts conversations with a confident tone in her voice while looking you in the eye, she also names letters and numbers at circle time.  She is gaining more independence everyday.  “She knows all of her colors, shapes, can count to 10 and has begun to write her name,” says Zahra.  “She shows more interest in learning and proudly picks out the first letters of her family’s names.  With the help of Play & Learn, she will enter Kindergarten prepared to keep learning:

Our Impact

Research shows that many youth from underserved and low-income families need extra support in reaching their full potential.  That “gap” known as the achievement gap presents not just immediate hurdles for these students, but also long-term challenges for us all.

More than half of young children of working parents in the U.S. – especially children in low-income and newcomer/immigrant communities – are cared for by relatives, friends and neighbors who may not be trained in child development.  The Y’s innovative Play & Learn program works with families and caregivers to incorporate learning into everyday household activities.  This program is held in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club and expanded to include the International Institute in 2016.

91% of caregivers reported an increased ability of children to follow directions; 90 percent of caregivers reported an increased willingness to try new things; 78 percent of caregivers reported that their child knew their ABCs and 82 percent knew their numbers.