YCC Newsletter #28 – Spring Is in the Air – Photos 💚💛

So Much Going on !! 💚💛

Spring at YCC is the season of long days of outdoor play for the kids at YCC Ogden.

We have been seeing unprecedented numbers of kids bounding through our doors each day, which indicates both the need for our work and our success in meeting new challenges as they emerge.

As ever, every child is met at the door after school by the stalwart and compassionate volunteers who continue to offer kindness, compassion and direction to our crew who often head straight to the kitchen and help themselves to the healthy snacks we offer.  There the kids catch up and share the stories of their day with each other and with the staff. It’s a lively and homey atmosphere in the kitchen after school.

On some days we hire buses to take kids to badminton and racquetball group lessons.  Bus trips are always a big event at the centre; so rarely do many of the children get the chance to venture outside the neighbourhood.  When the ice melts, our hockey skills program migrates to street hockey, skates are swapped for shoes as the players continue to develop skills and a love of the game. Little Liam and his pal Amir have quite the slapshots now, and our Flames player sponsor Andrew and beloved Coaches Kerr and Eden continue to act as mentors, and provide tips.

Our basketball court is a one of the lively places where our kids practice and play this favourite sport. Fifteen of our boys and girls are sponsored to play club ball this spring and summer, and we ensure that our basketball players have shoes, gear, transportation and support from the sidelines. In exchange, they promise to show commitment and grit on and off the court, give back to the community and try their best to make the high school team.  We have a waitlist for sponsorship.

The YCC book club also meets twice a week in the cozy upstairs reading room.  With the guidance of U of C students, they decide as a group on the books that they’d like to read together.  Kids nestle on the floor in a sea of pillows, read page after page, and let their imaginations roam.  Most of the kids at the centre begin by reading below grade level, but with the Book Club this is slowly changing.  This month’s book is LeBron James’s We are Family.  We are proudly and patiently nurturing a love of reading in some of the most challenged learners and we’re narrowing the measurable literacy gap in school.

All through the week, musical notes, compositions, scales, and kids’ laughter can be heard ringing through the house from our downstairs music room.  Musically talented kids (and also kids who’d just like to try) practice and learn from each other and our highly qualified volunteer piano teachers.  Each child is learning at their own pace and parents ensure that their kids practice on the keyboards we send home under our lending program.  Little Filipe, just ten years old, is now playing at a grade 9 Royal Conservatory level.  Music brings much relief from the stresses of life.  We are proud of them all.

Visitors are often blown away by the art on our walls.  The art tables are busy places, often covered in paint, paper and clay.  Our art teacher Taylor engages the kids in a multitude of forms of creative expression.  They learn to work together and to use their imaginations to create beautiful pieces. It’s therapeutic, and meditative.

The Weekly Kid’s Cooking class has had the kids preparing chicken parmesan, spaghetti and meatballs, home baked pizza, protein smoothies, popcorn balls, chocolate chip cookies and s’mores.  We tip our hats to the future chefs.

Gardening in Ogden will wait until just after May Long.  In anticipation, we’ll be meeting this coming week to decide upon the vegetables to plant this year in the garden boxes – carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, raspberries… And we’ll double the amount we normally plant to fill the Forest Lawn centre’s  plots!

The most exciting news of all is that the Forest Lawn centre will fling its doors open in the fall.  This quaint little home is being modelled on our perfect little Ogden house, yet slightly fancier. The site was chosen almost 7 years ago and could not be more perfect for a youth centre.  It is a stone’s throw from four schools and across from a green space. Just like in Ogden, there will be a soundproof music room, a tech space, a cozy quiet reading room, and harvest tables for kids to make art, play games and eat hot healthy food.  The walls will be adorned with kid art. When we open, we will have a warm, welcoming, vibrant and safe place for kids to be a kid, just like the Ogden house.  We are pretty good at this work.  Just imagine how many youth centres could someday be established in our most vulnerable communities?

Long and idle summer days pose a multitude of challenges to many kids in our communities.  SO it’s no surprise that we are planning our Sixth Annual Free Summer Day camp in Ogden, with sports, creative arts and bus excursions in and around the city for any kid who registers.  We’ve got lots of exciting plans for this summer, and we believe this year’s camp will be the making of life changing and lasting memories for many kids.  Twenty kids are sponsored to participate in Winsport’s Outdoor Wilderness Camp, including transportation, lunch and gear.

As ever, the kids are happy, safe, and positively impacted by our “home away from home”.

Your support is key to our continued success.  If you have already given, thank you.  If you would like to give, please contact me.

I am honoured to have your support in meeting the needs of these spectacular kids.

Jane 💚

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