Strong Fast Fit: A Gathering Place for Company and Community
June 7, 2022
In the midst of a school year filled with disruptions, our Strong Fast Fit program remained a consistent part of our participants’ lives. YWCA Minneapolis provided youth participants with a safe, comfortable and familiar environment surrounded by a team of counselors who consistently checked in and showed care.
Strong Fast Fit is a fitness and nutrition afterschool program. As a part of it, the whole family receives a YWCA fitness membership and the youth meet after school to play games and learn how to make nutritious meals and snacks. It’s designed to empower youth to live healthy and active lifestyles.
Eating, Playing and Learning
Studies show that youth who are involved in out-of-school time and afterschool programs demonstrate increased values and social skills, strengthened self-confidence and family relationships. Regular and ongoing participation in Strong Fast Fit demonstrates how youth value the program. There is a need to socialize, be among peers and engage in a healthy environment. The little things that people take for granted are the little things that matter to youth who are developing and growing each day. Having a place to develop these skills was more critical this year than ever.
When asked, Strong Fast Fit elementary participants stated,
“We like coming to YWCA Midtown to have fun, to be in group and because we are one family. We come to eat, to play and to learn.”
A program’s value and success cannot be fully demonstrated with numbers or data, but rather in how each youth feels valued and knows that they matter. There is trust built by our participating youth and the youth counselor that allows them to explore freely, challenge themselves daily and let their voices be heard.
Daily, weekly and monthly activities are planned, but each day is a learning curve to improve, adapt to changes and be flexible in meeting the needs of our youth. Each day is filled with fun, laughter and good food. Sometimes on low days, baking is a therapy for youth to unwind. The sweet-scented air drifts in the room as cupcakes or brownies are baked in the oven; the anticipated wait to taste and the countless chats on the flavoring of each sweet.
On many days, the endless chatter, the constant questions, the storytelling and the team-building games are what youth need to unwind after a long day of school or online classes. Sometimes it is peer interaction, the laughter and joy in seeing each other, that helps youth maintain their positive attitude in the current affairs of the world. And on other days, it’s the sweet things in life that bring youth together, to bond and be in good company.
Coming Together and Showing Up
Strong Fast Fit will continue to show up for youth, creating a community space that is youth-driven and responsive to their holistic needs. In a time filled with disruption, Strong Fast Fit remains committed to providing a consistent experience to youth and their families at YWCA Midtown.