Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Middlesex Y Recieves Community Impact Award

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

 The Middlesex Y is honored to accept the 2013 Community Impact Award from the Middlesex United Way. As a charity partner, we support the efforts of the United Way to make a positive and lasting impact on our community. The Y’s commitment to preparing children for their educational career is completely in sync with United Way’s focus on education and increasing children’s readiness to learn by school entry.

In the words of the United Way, “Learning starts long before school does, and the early years of childhood development are critical.” These shared values and goals strengthen our partnership and leverage the United Way’s investment into Y programs in order to produce significant, positive outcomes to prepare our children for their educational future. Our partnership is successful and thriving as it is based on mutual trust and shared beliefs.

 This is a great example of strong partnership. If it wasn’t for the willingness of Pat Charles, Jon Romeo, and Jeff R. Fournier, to partner with us and provide their space, we wouldn’t have been able to meet the additional needs of the low-income families in the area. In order to offer high quality early childhood education programs, you have to have dedicated, high quality staff. Karin James and her team work hard to prepare their students for lifelong academic success.

 We thank the Middlesex United Way for encouraging our efforts to prepare children from all walks of life so they can ultimately become independent, successful and productive.  Today more than ever we need our children to be prepared for rigorous academic standards even at very young ages. The Y’s programs help children and parents to make a smooth transition so that kids can move forward with confidence and ease. In the words of the late Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
-Michele Rulnick, President and CEO, Middlesex YMCA




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Value of Adult Role Models

I grew up with two brothers and a sister. Saturdays were spent in a mini-van traversing across Middlesex County from soccer practice, baseball games, and dance classes. In hindsight, it's no small feat that my parents could navigate the chaotic landscape of four eager and outgoing children. They could have simply locked the door and forced us to fend for ourselves forgoing expensive gas stops, temper tantrums, and who knows what else we put them through.

However, they persevered through all the headaches because they saw the value in these experiences. They saw us laugh with new friends. They heard us shout triumphantly when we mastered a new skill. They acknowledged the relationships we built with our coaches and instructors as essential to our growth and development as part of a community.

I am forever grateful for these childhood experiences my parents were willing to provide me. But, to be honest, I remember very little of the lessons or practices themselves. What I do remember are my coaches. I remember how cool they were. I remember  trying my hardest to impress them in order to get the "good job" or "high five". It wasn't a chore to get me to those practices or lessons. I waited eagerly for Saturday and my coaches were the catalyst behind that desire.

These non-parental adult role models occupy a large portion of my childhood memories. They have positively influenced my life by volunteering time, reinforcing positive values, and showing me examples of what it means to be part of my community.  The "Journal of Extension" talks about how "Youth have a tendency to listen more closely to another adult other than their parent. They even accept advice and accept challenges by non-parental adults".

At the Middlesex YMCA our mission drives our responsibility to provide adult role models for our community. Our Youth Mentors, Kids Korner Staff, Camp Counselors, and Youth Sports Coaches all strive to provide an atmosphere of inclusion and growth for our participants. We emphasize the four character traits of Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility while creating age and developmentally appropriate activities for all of our children. We are aware of our influence on the youth of our community and are always excited for the opportunity to create lasting memories with our participants.

New memories will be made at our Winter 2 Session of youth sports starting on February 2nd. Click here for our Winter Program Guide.

If you are interested in reading more about the importance of non-parental adult role models please visit this article on the Journal of Extension's website.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Parental Involvement Awards Earned by Two with "Y" Ties

Two people in our very own Y family have earned the honor of receiving the 2013 Parental Involvement Recognition Awards presented by the State Education Resource Center, CT Parent Information and Resource Center and the Connecticut Commission on Children.

Parents who receive the Parental Involvement Recognition Award are nominated for active involvement in the their children's school or community; support of their local school and contributions to high-quality education for all children; evidence of their ability to make a difference in their local school or community; and dedication and advocacy to ensure equity for all parents and their children.

This past November, Brian Kaskel and Marilyn Dunkley both made the trip to the State Capitol along with their families, nominating teachers and principals from the schools their children attend to receive this special award. Brian has children who attend our Kids' Korner after school programs and Marilyn is a cook for our preschool program at the YMCA. We applaud their efforts within their children's schools and our community. We look forward to seeing more of their great work in the future!

Brian Kaskel

Marilyn Dunkley

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Y Welcomes Youth Sports Coach, Ben Silliman

                The Middlesex Y’s youth sports program has been going strong for the past 13 years.  This pattern is sure to continue with the welcoming of our new youth sports coach, Ben Silliman. Ben earned his degree in Health and Physical Education from Springfield College and undertook internships in phys. ed. at Zanetti Montessori School in Springfield and Enrico Fermi High School formerly of Enfield.  Coach Ben has also ventured abroad to further his experience working with kids. During his time in Kazakhstan, Ben taught English to children in Kindergarten up to 18 years of age. This included helping the younger kids write to pen pals in English as well as facilitating English social clubs for the older kids. Ben also utilized his knowledge of physical education, in Kazakhstan, with his leadership at a soccer camp where he had kids practice drills and then hold discussions about their game play in English. Ben also spent time living in China, where he taught English to kids as young as two. Ben talks about his experiences,

                “Children in other parts of the world are just like kids in the United states. They want to have fun and be able to accomplish tasks in a fun way. It’s all about helping them achieve goals and outcomes while fostering the excitement that every parent wants to see in their child.” Ben mentions the many benefits of youth sports including confidence bolstering and advancement of interpersonal skills. Ben points out,

“Building relationships can be hard for some kids, especially without a common interest.” Not only does the Y’s youth sports program provide that common interest for kids to come together around, it also teaches certain skills that allow them to socialize easier and meet new friends. Ben says that he is a big high-five guy. He gives the kids high-fives of reassurance but also encourages them to give each other high-fives.

“Interaction between the kids is just as important as my interaction with them. That seemingly insignificant moment of a high-five can help form a connection between kids.”

                Ben is not new to the Y. He has been a part of the Middlesex Y’s affiliated Camp Ingersoll in Portland for 13 years serving as a lifeguard, swim instructor, boating director, and specialty camp coordinator. As Assistant Youth and Camp Director, Ben supervised and developed curriculum for all of the specialty camps at Ingersoll including Soccer, Mega Sports, Mega Fort Building, Dance, and Fishing.   Ben says that he really focused in on designing programs around sequential learning, using a progressive curriculum that introduced new skills at regular intervals. Ben also worked with rental groups at YMCA Camp Ingersoll, facilitating many ice breakers as well as team building activities on the camp’s ropes course.

                Youth Sports at the Middlesex Y is a great program for building your child’s confidence and social skills and of course, is a fun way for your child to be active! There are two, five-week sessions of youth sports this winter. The first is already underway and ends on February 1st, but you can still sign your child up and receive a discounted admission cost. This session’s sports are, Parent and Me Soccer, for age 3 years-old, Pee Wee Soccer, for ages 4 and 5, and Pee Wee Kickball, for ages 4 and 5. The second round starts February 2nd and runs through March 8th and includes, Parent and Me Basketball, for ages 3 years, Pee Wee Floor Hockey, ages 4 and 5 years, and the Sports Spectacular, for ages 5 and 6 years, which includes a variety of sports such as T-ball, soccer, basketball, hockey, and more.

                To register today or for more info, contact Ben Silliman at 860-343-6239 or bsilliman@midymca.org, or stop by the Y at 99 Union St. in Middletown. Also, check us out on Facebook and at midymca.org.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

YMCA Macdonough Preschool Students Receive SURFS Awards

Each month, members of the Macdonough School learning community gather at the SURFS Up Assembly. These assemblies allow students, teachers and community partners to sit back and reflect on the wonderful things that are happening in the classrooms of the school.

SURFS behavior is expected by all students at Macdonough. SURFS stands for:


One of the very special parts of the day is the awarding of the SURFS winners for the month. Children who receive the award are called up on stage and presented a certificate by their teacher for their great behavior. The school recognizes that good behavior starts at home, so the families of the children are also invited on stage. I was so happy to see our very own YMCA preschool students Taliah Jackson and Darelle McFadden receive their very first SURFS awards today! We are so proud of their hard work and thank them for being such great representatives of the YMCA at Macdonough School. Keep up the great work!