First of all, I thank the Y for the opportunity to express how significant the Y has been in my family’s life. The Y has pretty much always been a part of my life. I grew up as a teenager playing 3 sports at East High. The Y was the way that I stayed conditioned and out of trouble in the off-season.
I made friends for a lifetime when I was young. If there’s ever a tradition that you want to give to your children, it would be the ability to make friends.
All of my three boys have benefited from the many things that the Y provides. The Y helps develop character in youth. Two of my three boys became team captains as well as district and regional champions at the high school level, exhibiting character learned from the Y.
My third son Addison is 10 years old. He was a 1 1/2 lb. premature baby born at 61/2 months. Addison was born with profound hearing loss and premature baby’s have a reputation for being hyper. Addison was frustrated during his younger years because he was different from the other children. Addison did not talk until he was 3 1/2 years old due to needing a cochlear implant.
The Y Adventure Area gave our family many types of support. It gave Addison an opportunity to reduce his frustration by making friends and finding other children to play with. It gave me an option to help deal with my own medical concerns as well as limited day care options due to the communication delay.
As Addy (the family’s affectionate name for Addison) got older, many of the Y staff began to know him personally. Some people in the community have even become interested in learning sign language. During more recent years, Addy has benefited from the Fun & Fit area and sports leagues at the Y. The Fun & Fit provides an outlet for his ADHD issues and the team sports helps Addy stay connected to home and the community. This is really great for Addy since he has been limited with Little League sports because he attends school in Pittsburgh.
In conclusion, the Y has given me an opportunity to give back by coaching along with a way to bond with my boys who have loved the interaction. With the community over the decades, the relationships created through the Y facilities and programs are uncomparable. The experiences that my family has had while raising a 26, 18, and 10 year old, reincarnated many of my favorite youthful memories. These memories have been so influential that they may create generations of healthy living.
-Charles Darby, lifelong YMCA Member