YMCA aims to meet community concerns about youth

The YMCA of the Cayman Islands has been busy gathering input from the community at various town hall meetings, and the concerns raised were one in the same.

“Youth – I think [concerns raised] echoed the community needs survey. Just for more things for our youth to do. There’s also a sense of despair,” Greg Smith, chief executive officer of the YMCA, said at the meeting held at Triple C School in George Town.

Mr. Smith has been involved with the “Y” for almost 20 years. 

“One of the reasons I get so excited having been around the Y for so long is I know what the Y can do, and I believe will do here in Cayman. It’s just a matter of humble beginnings and getting started. I believe the future will be brighter for Cayman in having a YMCA,” said  Mr. Smith.

Community needs survey

Since the Y launched in Cayman, a community needs survey was conducted to determine which programs would best suit the specific needs of the islands.  

So far, around 600 members of the community have taken part in the survey, and the main area of concern was, again, youth development. 

To tackle the concerns raised about youth, the Y plans to launch its teen leadership program in April, but for now the Y’s main focus is securing funding for the next three years. 

The teen leadership program will allow teens to organize their own activities, with the guidance of an adult. 

“The beauty of our teen leaders program is kids like it… What they are learning through the process is leadership and ownership. They are hopefully learning that they actually have a say in the outcome of their lives, if they take an active part in it. It’s empowerment with direction,” said Mr. Smith.

The Y takes a holistic and balanced approach, targeting health and wellness for all ages in the community, ranging from organizing team building exercises for young people at risk, to aerobics classes for seniors. 

“It’s a balance. It’s a holistic approach to an individual’s spirit, mind, and body… Our focus is strengthening the community. We do that through healthy living, youth development and social responsibility,” he said.

Of the seven town hall meetings held across the islands, attracting some 75 people in total, Mr. Smith said East End’s meeting was the liveliest. 

“We had a good group out there. The meeting turned into really a focus group and they talked specifically about the issues in East End…These were people who dug into the issues.”

Volunteer opportunities

Mr. Smith is urging volunteers to come forward, especially in the areas of administration and teen leadership. 

“The faster we will be able to impact the community will be the result of strong volunteers…,” he said.

So far, the Y has received 35 volunteer applications, but more positions need to be filled. 

The Y offers training to volunteers in a wide range of areas, including hosting activities for seniors, health and wellness, and aquatics. 

“It’s about linking people up with what they want to do.”

The Y hosts its next town hall meeting Monday at the Bodden Town Civic Center, starting at 7 p.m. For more information about the YMCA in Cayman, visit www.ymcacayman.ky, call 928-5987 or email Mr. Smith at [email protected] 

 

YMCA team members

Pastor Randy Von Kanel, YMCA board chairman, left, with Greg Smith, CEO, and Andrew Johson, vice chairman. – PHOTO: SAMANTHA BONHAM