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Beyond Swim Instruction: The YMCA Supports, Empowers, and Educates People of All Ages in Atlanta

By Paul Rowe

Strong communities are achieved when we invest in kids, health, and neighbors. The YMCA is a renowned cause-driven organization that supports youth development, promotes healthy living, and advocates for social responsibility in Atlanta neighborhoods.

The Y is made up of people from all walks of life, regardless of gender, race, income, faith, sexual orientation, or cultural background, working side by side to support people from all walks of life within their communities. Strong diversity and inclusion practices are paramount for the continued success of the Y.

"I love the depth, reach, and positive impact the Y has on the communities it serves," says Director of Communications Angie Clawson. "We turn no one away for financial reasons. Anyone who wants a Y experience can have one. I think that makes us special."

The Y is, for example, the largest provider for early learners in Metro Atlanta. The organization has stepped in and greatly increased literacy rates among children living in areas of concentrated poverty.

"Our After School and Summer Learning program help to keep school age youth at or above grade level academic success to give children a better chance of graduating," says Clawson. "Our pre-school programs prepare children for kindergarten. These programs help prepare them for academic success long-term such as being able read by 3rd grade. This is a game changer for children who grow up in poverty."

Education is just the half of it. The Y stands by its core mission to promote healthy living by introducing people at any life stage to exercise. These efforts help to maintain active lifestyles and improve the overall wellbeing of the community.

"We introduce young people to sports and offer support to those who need a little assistance to adopt a healthy lifestyle through exciting programs like Start for Life, Youth Fit 4 Life, and the Coach Approach," says Clawson. "We expect the Y will continue to bring great experiences to every neighborhood that wants it."

One goal for the future? To teach every child to swim by second grade. Clawson calls swimming a "vitally important life skill." She adds, "The Y has always been America's swim instructor."

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About The Author

Paul Rowe is a graduate instructor of writing and master's student of Literature at...

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