In assessing how best to serve the community during these unique times, the YMCA recognises that this crisis has a timeline much longer than the portion we are currently living. When the local economy begins to resume, there are going to be more families in need of support than there have been before. As the largest day camp and after-school provider in the Cayman Islands, the YMCA is currently preparing to serve as great a need as ever.
As soon as deemed safe to do so by the government, the Y is prepared to resume its childcare services. In addition to adjusting programme parameters to meet health guidelines, curriculum will emphasize health education, social and emotional learning to support mental health, academic support to help reduce learning loss from school closures, as well as safe socialisation.
When school campuses closed in March, the YMCA’s services were immediately adapted to continue to provide ongoing support to 1000+ youth and teens from 13 schools across Grand Cayman & Cayman Brac. Services include daily telephone wellness checks with families; weekly electronic resources to support extracurriculars, life skills, mental health and academics; and activity sessions via distance learning platforms, providing a much-needed socialisation outlet.
Given the recent announcement that all schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, the Y is further adapting how it offers programmes by going to where the community is – online. The online platform, set to launch on 11 May, will allow the Y to offer its traditional programmes within the constraints of our current reality. There will be something for everyone in the family, as we all need an outlet to safely engage with others, reduce stress and have FUN! The Y is excited to come to families while they shelter at home.
The Y recently launched its annual fundraising campaign to raise $155K. Also known as the “Caring Campaign”, this effort provides financial assistance to families experiencing financial hardship and ensures Y programmes such as day camp, after-school, swim lessons, and teen leaders are accessible to all segments of the community.
“As our country grapples with the effects of COVID-19, our thoughts, prayers and focus are on how we can best support families as they navigate these very uncertain and unsettling times. As parents bear the burden of juggling home and work responsibilities or unemployment, we want to be right there to provide relief and solace for them and their children,” said Gillian Smith, Executive Director.
As a non-profit organisation, the Y relies on community support to help positively impact youth and their families, regardless of their current financial circumstances. The funds that will be raised during this year’s campaign have already taken on greater significance considering the inevitable increased financial need.
“We want everyone who supports the Y cause to know they are making a sound investment in our community, and we accept the responsibility that comes with it to maximise the return. There is not one social challenge we face as a community that cannot be vastly improved by instilling core values such as honesty, caring, respect, responsibility and faith in our young people,” said Y Board Chairman, David Watler. “I want to emphasise that any amount can make a difference. The entire volunteer Board of Directors of the Y contributes to the campaign annually and we invite you to join us in supporting the critical work of the YMCA.”
In order to cut the cost of YMCA programmes to families by at least 50% through the remainder of the year, the Y is also seeking grants for Relief Care. Additionally, the Y invites like-minded individuals and organisations to join us in delivering educational, informative and supportive content to families via our online channel. Persons or organisations interested in partnering to support the needs of Cayman’s youth and families are invited to contact us at email@example.com.