If you asked me when I was a kid if I liked to run I would have said no way! To make a long story short, I have since fallen in love with running. This past May, I was blessed to finish the Chase Corporate Challenge in 22:15, a personal record. However, I did not run the race to achieve a personal best, I ran it in memory of my grandpa.
A very wise president, Kid President, once said, “It’s everyone’s duty to give the world a reason to dance.”
It’s a sunny, cool day. After a grueling vertical climb, an eleven-year-old finally reaches the top of the rock wall and rings the bell proudly. I cheer. The group’s teacher cheers. I look over my shoulder at the other students on the ground, who are strangely silent, and find them huddled around cell phones.
There is an immense pressure from the world to know what you want to be when you “grow up”. I remember being that college freshman scrambling to choose a major. Boy was it tough! I ended up taking the list of majors and marking off what I DIDN’T want to do.
This past spring I found myself in a familiar position – getting ready for a no-hold barred game of Ultimate Frisbee at the state of Florida’s “Leaders Rally.” The twice-a-year gathering of teen leaders in Y programs is known for character development (which of course has to include Ultimate, right?)
Jordan is part of the Emerging Leaders Resource Network, an employee group dedicated to giving voice to young leaders across the country who have or are thinking about careers at the Y. This is his real life at the Y.
Our 20's are our defining decade. Let that sink in for a second.
My love affair with the YMCA didn't begin as a young child with swim lessons or in youth sports. It began in graduate school with AmeriCorps. During my second service term with AmeriCorps I served at the Monroe County YMCA in Bloomington, IN. I worked with the community outreach coordinator to implement ENERGIZE, a childhood obesity prevention program that focused on health education and physical activity in rural Title I schools. Title I schools are schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families.
While working the front desk at the Y, I got to know A LOT of members. After all, part of my job was to welcome anyone and everyone who walked through the door with a smiling face. One member who stuck out to me was an older gentleman named Frank.
One of the first times I felt truly discouraged teaching swim lessons was with a shy, timid little girl. Surprisingly, there were no behavioral challenges – she was sweet and smart, and really not a handful. I had dealt with kids far worse than her, and always came out on top; the kids would have a great time, behavior issues would be gone or at least minimized, and I always felt so invigorated by the work I did.