Father’s Day is a Reminder of the Important Role Dads Play in Children’s Lives


Over 100 years ago, while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon, Sonora Louis Smart Dodd wondered why there was no similar holiday for fathers. One of six children, Dodd’s father was a single father and she felt he and others deserved to be honored. After securing support from ministers in Spokane, Wash., her idea came to fruition with the first Father’s Day celebration at the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Many years passed before the day became a national holiday, but today we use the day to honor the fathers and father figures in our lives.

On Sunday, June 17, the Greater Joliet Area YMCA joins the nation in celebrating Father’s Day and recognizing the influence fathers and adult male role models have on children’s lives. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million—or one in three—children live without their biological fathers. Societal factors such as unemployment, work-life balance or a lack of resources can affect a father’s ability to seek support in strengthening his parenting skills and becoming more engaged in the lives of his children. The Y, a leading nonprofit in fostering positive youth development, is dedicated to providing both resources and opportunities for fathers to further involve themselves in the well-being and development of their children.

Studies show that children with close relationships with their fathers and other adult male role models have more self-confidence and exhibit less depression, perform better academically and engage in significantly less drug and alcohol use. In communities across the country, the Y is committed to ensuring that the nine million children and teens in YMCA programs reach their full potential by helping them grow—physically, mentally and socially—from young children into active, engaged members of their communities. To learn more about programs and activities available at the Y, click here.

Bess the Book Bus Makes Pitstop in Joliet


Bess the Book Bus made a pitstop in Joliet today, providing hundreds of YMCA campers with free, new books. Bess the Book Bus is a mobile outreach program committed to extending literacy across the United States. Stocked with an assortment of illustrated books and youth novels, Bess travels the country to pass out books to thousands of children each year.

Today, Bess the Book Bus set up shop at the Galowich and Smith Family YMCAs, where summer day camp is in full effect. Each camp participant hopped aboard Bess and picked one book that they could take home and keep.

Founded in 2002, Bess the Book Bus grew from a Tampa-based organization into a nationwide initiative with help from sponsors like CITGO. The program is currently on its 10th annual cross-country tour. Just days before landing in Joliet, Bess the Book Bus visited towns in Oregon, Montana and Wisconsin.

To learn more about Bess the Book Bus, visit www.bessthebookbus.org.

Teen Achievers Program Awarded JTHS Superintendent’s Medallion


The Greater Joliet Area YMCA’s Teen Achievers program received the Superintendent’s Medallion at the annual Joliet Township High School Salute to Service Partnership Event. JTHS Superintendent Dr. Cheryl McCarthy presented the prestigious award to the Y’s Teen and Young Adult Advancement Leadership Team who collectively coordinate and oversee the program.

The Superintendent’s Medallion is Joliet Township High School’s highest honor awarded for extensive service, dedication and/or financial contributions. It is bestowed upon individuals or groups that go above and beyond in service and support of JTHS students, staff and District 204 stakeholders.

Teen Achievers is an academic program that provides students with inspiration and guidance in setting goals to graduate from high school, gain entry into college, and ultimately achieve successful entry into a career of their choosing. Through a partnership with JTHS, the program is offered to Joliet Central and Joliet West High Schools. (The program recently expanded into Plainfield South High School.) Since 2005, 93 percent of the graduating seniors in the program has advanced to institutions of higher learning.

Pictured above, from left to right: TAYAA Advisory Council Members Troy Cicero and Tracy Spesia, TAYAA Executive Director Maurice Fears, TAYAA Advisory Council Members Dr. Saundra Russell-Smith and Shayla Smith, and Joliet Township High School Superintendent Dr. Cheryl McCarthy.

Morris YMCA Dance-A-Thon Raises $900 for Annual Campaign


The Morris Community YMCA raised $900 in scholarship funds at its 3rd Annual Campaign Dance-A-Thon held May 4 at White Oak Elementary School. The event included instruction for three of the Y’s most popular group fitness classes: Zumba, Pound and Hip-Hop Fit.

A mix of 80s and 90s decor and music set the tone for the event, which drew a crowd of 35 participants. To match the nostalgic theme, many attendees dressed in bright neon colors and wore retro-inspired accessories.

All proceeds from the Dance-A-Thon will help to ensure that no one is turned away from the Y due to the inability to pay. To make a contribution to the Y’s Annual Campaign, click here.

Swim Lessons Create Strong Swimmers and Confident Kids


May is National Water Safety Month, and the perfect time to get children involved in swim lessons. As America’s Swim Instructor, the Y is the most accessible community resource to prevent drowning and encourage a lifelong enjoyment of swimming—teaching more than one million kids a year swimming and water safety skills.

YMCA swim lessons increase the accessibility and enjoyment of swimming to all ages and skill levels. The latest evolution of Y Swim Lessons accommodates varying abilities to help foster a sense of achievement as swimmers’ progress between levels. Through this approach, advanced swimmers flow more easily to higher levels while swimmers who need more instruction can learn at their own pace. This results in more confident swimmers who stick with lessons and develop a love for swimming that can last a lifetime.

There are three general categories of Y Swim Lessons:

  • Swim Starters develops water enrichment and aquatic readiness in children ages 6 months to 3 years. This category focuses on developing swim readiness skills through fun and confidence-building experiences. Parents also learn how to supervise children in the water, how to prevent accidents and how to plan for emergencies.
  • Swim Basics develops personal water safety and basic swimming skills in students of all ages. Swimmers develop a high level of comfort in the water by practicing safe water habits, engaging in underwater exploration, and learning how to swim to safety and exit if they fall into a body of water.
  • Swim Strokes introduces and refines stroke technique in older students (school age, teens and adults). Having mastered the fundamentals, students learn additional water safety skills and build stroke technique, developing skills that prevent chronic disease, increase social-emotional and cognitive well-being and foster a lifetime of physical activity.

The Y introduced the concept of group swim lessons in 1909. Now, each year in more than 2,000 pools across the country, the Y teaches more than a million children from all backgrounds invaluable water safety and swim skills.

To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, financial assistance is available to those in need to help cover the costs. Families interested in learning more about Y swim lessons and water safety classes should click here.

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