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.

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