Why Give

Your gift to the Y helps individuals and families of all ages be at their best. Read some of their stories here.

Lifesaving Skills

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-14. But with your support, we can change this by giving more kids the opportunity to take swim lessons.

Eight-year-old twins Harry and Silas are among the students who have benefited from Y swim lessons provided in partnership with the Independence School District. They were nervous about taking lessons, but by the fourth week they were jumping into the deep end of the pool with ease, learning to float and learning and learning important skills like floating and proper arm and leg movements in the water.

They’re also building confidence along the way.

“I feel really good about it and now I’m not shy about the water,” Silas said.

Opportunities For All

When you give to the Y, you can make sure young people of diverse abilities like Max and their families have the opportunity to benefit from YMCA Challenger recreational and social activities.

“Sometimes when you’re a family with special needs it’s very isolating,” said Max's dad, Rick. But with YMCA Challenger, Rick and his wife, Cornelia, have found support.

For 10 years, Max, now 20 years old, has continued to thrive in Challenger. Max joins other young people with diverse needs to be active and make friends in team sports and social activities, such as dances and outings to movies and local attractions. And his family has benefited from a supportive network of others facing similar situations.

Achieving Dreams

Your gift can help teens like Amanda Johnson prepare for a success in college and careers. Amanda participated in the YMCA's Young Achievers program during her sophomore through senior years of high school. She joined other teens two Saturdays a month to learn about college, careers, community service, and life skills such as building positive relationships and managing personal finances.

She also participated in college tours. “It was very inspiring to see kids who went out of state for college,” she said. “I really started to see myself at a different level of achievement…I gained options.”

During the college tour her senior year, she was accepted to five of the schools and received a total of $34,000 in scholarships.

Lifestyle Change

As life presented Oralia and her husband with the challenges of jobs, home ownership and raising children, her waistline expanded and her energy levels were low.

“I was still cooking and eating the traditional foods we loved, the beef tacos, stewed meats, tortillas. All foods high in fat and salt, and I wasn’t exercising.” Her physician told her she had blood pressure problems.

Oralia was ready to make a change, but wasn’t sure where to begin. Until one day she accompanied a friend to a local clinic and heard about the Y’s Salsa, Sabor y Salud program taught in Spanish. Oralia signed up.

After a couple of lessons, she began using her Y membership, free during the six-week Salsa program. She started with the treadmill, and then tried group exercise classes.

When the Salsa classes ended, Oralia had already changed her habits and had confidence to continue to lose weight.

“I was drinking more water, no soda. I ate out less. I decided to get a membership and include my family,” Oralia said. “The atmosphere at the Y is very friendly.”

Learning & Support

A blessing is how Wiesje Sammis describes the Y Club before and after school program.

In 2011, Wiesje’s five children started school at Rosehill Elementary in the Shawnee Mission School District. Soon after she learned about Y Club. A single mom, Wiesje (pronounced “Wisha”) is grateful she received a scholarship and reduced rate for her five children to attend the program, which provides a safe environment, homework help, healthy snacks and social opportunities for kids.

“I know the kids will learn, and I know they’re safe,” Wiesje said. “You feel like it’s a second home and not day care. I just love it. It gives me total peace.”

The benefits of Y Club carry over at home. One game changer for the family was when her two youngest children, Bailey and Terrelle, were accepted in the Y Club’s after school tutoring program two years ago. Y Club fees became free, thanks to grant funding for the tutoring program, and both kids are on the Honor Roll now.

“We used to sit at the dining room table two to three hours a night doing homework,” Wiesje said. “We don’t have to do that anymore. Just to relieve that stress, to be able to let me interact with my kids—it gives me more time with them.”

Preventing Chronic Disease

Don had been active and didn’t have a family history of diabetes. So he was shocked to learn after a routine physical that his blood work showed he had prediabetes.

By the time Don was three months into the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program, he had already lost 75 percent of the weight he wanted to lose and had worked up to 150 minutes a week of exercise.

“I feel really good,” he said. “I feel healthier, I feel more active, I feel so good I could do things that I couldn’t do before.”

When his brother asked for help moving, he was able to say yes. And now he’s not carrying around extra weight when he chases his grandson.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program also offers the support of a lifestyle coach and other participants experiencing similar challenges. “Sue is my instructor. She does an outstanding job,” Don said. “She really encourages us.”

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