Sometimes good behavior pays off — not only socially but also in the way of physical fitness. The Garden City Family YMCA’s “Keeping our Promise” memberships encourage students to do good deeds and reward them with better health.
Chloe Carr, a first-grader at Buffalo Jones Elementary School, recently received her membership for helping her fellow students.
“Her teacher said that she’s almost like a mom; she helps everybody that needs help on everything. She’ll get her school work done, and then if anyone else is needing some help, the teacher will let her go help them understand and finish theirs,” said her father, Norman Carr.
Chloe Carr, along with 70 other students from Finney County, were awarded for their good behavior, earning them free one-year memberships at the YMCA.
“This is probably one of my favorite programs that we do at the YMCA, “ said Chad Knight, YMCA CEO. “Our YMCA is fortunate and blessed to have the support of the community, which allows us to give these free memberships to these students. To see the joys in their eyes when they win is unbelievable.”
Teachers nominate students based on a long list of criteria, with the focus being on the YMCA’s mission and core values — caring, honesty, respect and responsibility — as well as the students’ attitude, grades, willingness to work hard, and if they are believed to get a benefit from having a YMCA membership.
Five of Amanda Donelson’s children were awarded free memberships.
“I’ve been wanting to get a membership, so I was really surprised when all my kids got one and it was for the family,” Donelson said.
Knight said that when there are multiple siblings who win, he changes it to a family membership so that the whole family can benefit.
“We really like it when they have multiple siblings. That makes it nice because then they’ll call me and ask me to make it a family membership,” Knight said, adding that he happily obliges those requests.
Bryce, a fifth-grader at Bernadine Sitts Intermediate Center, plans to use his membership to play basketball and racquetball.
“We played racquetball already, and my arm is still hurting,” Donelson said, laughing.
Xavier Blackburn, a third-grader at Edith Scheuerman Elementary School, was playing air hockey with one of his siblings Friday morning.
Fanacy Blackburn, a fourth-grader, Spring Valadez, a second-grader, and Jewle Blackburn, a kindergartener, plan to do a lot of swimming at the YMCA.
That is how it all worked out for Linda Villarreal’s family, as well, after her two sons, Servando Jurado, a third-grader at Buffalo Jones, and Sebastian Jurado, a first-grader at Buffalo Jones, were awarded their free memberships, which Knight upgraded to family memberships.
“The thing that makes me the happiest is that they won it because of their behavior,” Villarreal said.
The YMCA’s “Keeping Our Promise” program was started in 2000 along with Prudential Insurance agent Greg Calzonetti and through the YMCA’s Heritage Club.
“Luis Galvez, who was a fourth-grader at Victor Ornelas Elementary School, won the very first membership that year,” Knight said, adding that Galvez has maintained a membership there all these years later.
Last year, 65 students received the free memberships, and since the program’s inception in 2000, the YMCA has awarded 353 free youth memberships.