With a country that is experiencing mass killings frequently we all wonder what is going on? Why do people feel the need to hurt as many people as they can usually in a setting that has caused them some kind of disturbance in their life? Why are so many people unhealthy? What has caused our well-being to be lost?
Wellness is a multifaceted state of being. Total wellness involves your spirit, mind and body. At the Y we are blessed to have a mission that is based on Christian principles. Those principles which we call our core values are caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. If you can master these principles, you will be well.
The problem is life gets in the way. Each day we face challenges that weren’t there the day before. For adults it may be something in your personal or professional life. If you are a child, it usually deals with home or school. As adults we have many tools in our toolbox to deal with the challenges we face each day. We have learned coping skills through our life experiences and ways to deal with stress.
Children, on the other hand, are in the learning process. They have to be shown or taught how to cope with daily stresses. We as adults have to try and understand that their youth is not the same as our younger days. Everything we did as youngsters was not known by everyone who owns a cell phone or electronic device. Can you imagine the trouble you would have been in if your family knew all the things you did usually before you even got home?
I know you are going to say that they are the ones doing the information sharing, playing into the drama, and creating the unhappiness, but that is their real world. They have to be connected to each other because that is who we all are; we are social beings. The problem is, it’s much easier to post and share something than it is to say something to each other’s faces. So unkind comments that you may think twice about saying to someone’s face have a way of just appearing out of your fingertip causing real hurt and pain.
So, how do we help? How do we make a difference? Love on your children! Spend quality time with your children! Teach them what is right and wrong online and in person. Get them involved in team sports and clubs. Get them to volunteer so they learn what it is to give back. In other words teach them to care about others, respect rules and be responsible for their actions.
Every action we do has a consequence whether positive or negative depends on the action. We took the action we caused the consequence — we take the responsibility for that. We don’t say, “well they punished me for misbehaving so now what I’ve done is their fault.” No! Teach your kids about cause and reaction, about action and consequences.
My Pastor, Pastor Scott Ehle, shared a statistic during one of his sermons. Ten kids were asked if they were loved outside of their family, three answered yes. What about the other seven? Of all the hours in a day when we are not in a family setting, don’t you wish that kids felt loved, valued and important? The Y programs do that. They are designed to include all kids, teach them about their actions, make sure all kids are involved and all kids feel valued.
Y programs recognize that some kids need a gentle nudge to be an active part of a team or activity. Y staff are compassionate caring individuals who are taught how to seek out those in their care who need extra encouragement. To try and identify with them and most importantly make them feel loved by someone outside of their family.
Many of the Y staff are young adults themselves. During the times when horrible things are happening in our country I think of the fabulous young people we have working in our programs at the Y and it helps me restore my faith in human beings. It gives me hope for the future.
I often wonder how our Y got to be so lucky so have so many awesome young people working here. I answer that question by saying that they learned from many places; their families, their co-workers, their teachers, their churches, the groups they are involved with and their friends. They are leaders who have been loved by others outside of their family and they care about people and their feelings.
Many of our current Y staff members have grown up in programs at our Y. Some of them needed a little extra encouragement themselves, but look at what they are doing now! We know the way we care about our Y kids works. It is one of the reasons our Y is successful and a valued part of our community. It is what makes us continue to improve on the services we provide and continue to learn new program offerings and ways to relate to kids.
The Y is here for you and our community. Our programs implement our four core values every day. If you a child who needs to know they are important, valued and loved, send them to us at the Y. We will make sure they know someone outside of their family loves them.
Terri Falkenberg, Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA Executive Director, can be reached at the Y, 1600 West Drive, Menominee, MI, 49858; 906-863-9983; or terri@mmymca.org.