The YMCA has been part of my life since I was little, I started off with daycare at the Barrie Y. After a couple years, my family applied for a subsidy to receive a membership. Through that I was able to start participating in the programs, doing sports like soccer, basketball, squash. fit kids, and any other program offered! At the Y I began to take swimming lessons, and when I was old enough, moved into the more advanced swimming like Bronze Medallion, Cross, and NLS.
Through the leadership program I was able to become more confident and really open up. My group became like a family to me. Through leaders, I was able to start volunteering and helping out with the classes I used to participate in. I also began to help with swimming lessons becoming an assistant instructor.
After all my experience and time donated with the Y, I was able to get a job at the new Gravenhurst Y as a lifeguard, swim instructor and work in child and youth programs. I’ve been an employee there for over a year now!
But, the Y isn’t just a place where people go to learn how to swim, makes some new friends, or get in shape. Through the Y, I was able to do a work exchange where I went to Quebec for 6 weeks over the summer and worked as a day camp counselor and practiced my french. I stayed with a family that helped me improve my french and made me feel very welcome. Not only was this a great work opportunity and chance to work on becoming bilingual, this really opened my eyes. I got to see an entirely different culture and was able to judge it myself based on what I experienced rather than stereotypes or prejudices created by other people.
Overall, the Y has made a huge impact in my life. It has opened my eyes in more ways than one and taught me many things. I hope to continue to grow in the Y community and help bring others to it in hopes their experience will be as great as mine!