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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Tampa YMCA Offers Free Meal & Swim Lessons to Summer Campers

When the final bell of the school year rings, children run home, eagerly anticipating the freedom of summer. A week (sometimes even days) later, parents hear the dreaded two-word phrase: “I’m bored.”

Parents need not fear as the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA is making sure children have their best summer ever thanks to a variety of programs and activities that stimulate both mind and body. “It’s important for children to have an outlet to play and learn throughout the summer,” says Youth Development Vice-President Candace Culver. “From summer camp to swim lessons to our free summer food program, the Y supports all children in the community and helps them discover their potential.”

Summer camp at the Y provides kids with adventure, healthy fun, personal growth and friendships that can take a so-so summer and turn it into a memory that lasts a lifetime. The Tampa YMCA’s camps provide a welcoming environment for kids where they can belong, build relationships, develop character and discover their potential.

Since summer is synonymous with swim season, the Y encourages campers to explore the benefits of swimming while also keeping safety top of mind. The Y’s Go for Green program provides free swim lessons to Y summer campers unable to pass the swim test. They receive free swim lessons throughout the summer until they pass the swim test and get a green wristband. Go for Green is made possible through the generous support of the Tampa Bay Rays, United Way Suncoast and the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

Without access to educational activities during the summer, children who are already behind in reading are at risk of falling further behind their peers. As a leading nonprofit working to close the achievement gap, the Tampa Y intentionally integrates academic components into its summer curriculum. So, while they’re having fun, campers are learning about nature, cooking, math and more! For children who need additional help with their reading skills, the Y offers a Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program for rising first and second graders. The national Y initiative supports cognitive, physical and social-emotional growth while focusing on helping children read at grade level. Last summer, at Graham Elementary School, 86 percent of 2nd graders and 54 percent of 1st graders improved their test scores.

While these programs keep local children busy and engaged throughout the summer, kids can’t focus when they’re hungry. Children who rely on low-cost lunch plans during the school year are at risk of going hungry when school’s not in session. In partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools, the Y’s Summer Food Program helps fill that gap to make sure kids can enjoy free healthy meals and snacks throughout the summer. Last summer, the Tampa Y served more than 135,000 healthy meals and 200,000 nutritious snacks to kids and teens. The Summer Food Program runs from June 13 until August 5 and is open to all kids in the community between ages 5-18. To find out the time frames when free breakfast and lunch is available, contact your local branch.

Whether it’s keeping little ones full, helping children read, keeping kids safe around water, or keeping them active and engaged throughout the summer, the Y has a program to benefit all youth in the community. To learn more, visit http://www.tampaymca.org.

About the Tampa Y

The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading nonprofits, strengthening Hillsborough and East Pasco communities for more than 127 years, through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the Association, 18 facilities engage more than 160,000 men, women and children — regardless of age, income or background — to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve our community’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. The Tampa Y has long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.www.tampaymca.org

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