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The best part of last summer for 9-year-old Joey was swimming each week and playing games at the Y’s Adventure Day Camp.

“Last year’s day camp at the Y provided a sense of normalcy for Joey,” said Jasmine, mother of Joey (9), Jair (5), and Jasmine (3).

Amidst the shutdowns and isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic, children’s mental health crises increased.

Data from the CDC shows an alarming increase in emergency hospital visits for mental health concerns for children. From March to October 2020, hospitals across the country saw a rise of over 24 percent for children ages 5 to 11 and 31 percent for those ages 12 to 17 years old compared to 2019.

Children have been part of families reeling from job losses, struggling with virtual schedule overload, and even grieving the loss of relatives. Cabin fever exacerbated these struggles and family conflicts, and closed schools left many children isolated from their support systems of friends and teachers.

“Parents would call to see if we had any programs available because they wanted to get their children out of the house and active,” said Jamila Coulson, YMCA Youth and Adult Program Director. “When I would mention the available programs, I could feel “tears of joy” coming from them. The kids were so happy to be able to work with other children.”

Looking for ways to get her children and herself outside of their home and active safely, Jasmine said her family signed up for all types of youth programs at the Redlands and Highland Y. From registering her 3-year-old, Jasmine, up for swimming and ballet to Joey joining street hockey and martial arts. “The classes were smaller. It was perfect,” says Jasmine.

“The Y was one of the only places that offered activities and sports outdoors for the kids, and even for me to be able to workout. It was a life-saver,” shared Jasmine. “Without it, I would have been more stressed as a parent.”


According to Psychology Today, children and adolescents report many positive physical and mental benefits from sports. For example, they have lower obesity rates, lower use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs, higher graduation rates, and fewer struggles with mental health than their non-athlete peers.1

“Without the outlets at the Y, my kids would have been negatively impacted mentally,” said Jasmine.

Emilie Gleisberg, YMCA Circus and Sports Director, says parents have mentioned the difference they see in their kids after being back in programs, specifically with their social skills. “Their kids are lighting back up at home again, they want to be active on their own time, and they’re excited to see friends each week at the YMCA,” said Emilie.

“The YMCA is a great facility for kids’ activities, to learn sports that are safe and fun, and learn good values. It’s an organization that helps you out when you are in need,” shared Jasmine.

With the help of Financial Assistance last year, 315 children were able to get active with Y youth sports. All children deserve the opportunity to come to the Y and be a part of the team, like Joey. Every donation to the YMCA of the East Valley helps support individuals and families in our community to lead a healthier life in body, mind, and spirit.

Approximately 1 in 4 youths experiences a mental health disorder in a given year.2

  1. Psychology Today. June 21, 2021.
  2. CDC. November 13, 2020.

Support members like Jasmine

1 in 4 support Financial Assistance

The YMCA provides Financial Assistance so that we can eliminate the financial barriers that keep families and individuals from wellness resources and a community of support. When you donate to the YMCA of the East Valley, 100% of those donations go straight into our Financial Assistance program so we can serve more in our community.