For an organization fortunate enough to have an abundance of exciting things to celebrate and of which to be proud, last week we seemed to reach a pinnacle of sorts as a part of a special NBC News Education Nation panel discussion held here in Baltimore. The event was called Supporting Our Children. It Takes Everyone, part of NBC’s “Education Nation,” an on-going initiative to engage citizens in a solutions-focused conversation about the state of education in the United States. It was moderated by NBC’s Chief Education Correspondent, Rehima Ellis and we were delighted that our very own Michelle Becote-Jackson was a participant in one of the panel discussions. The panel Michelle participated in was called “Beyond the Classroom” and it focused on whole child development. It was kicked off by the author and child psychologist Dr. Michele Borba, who brought to life the essential importance of emotional nurturing in a child’s life. She emphasized that you don’t need a Ph.D. to nurture a child. You need compassion, purpose and common sense.
Whole child development is of course a sweet spot for us as leaders in Youth Development and not something we are new to or just came to recently embrace. A recognition of the importance of a healthy spirit, mind and body is of course fundamental to the Y and woven into our approach to all of our work, across all age groups. All of us clearly play a role in this. Saying hello to a child, for example, in any of our Centers and sites, is more than a greeting; it is also an acknowledgement that they are seen and matter in the world. Reinforcement of our values, emphasis on service, exercise and balance in the school day, providing emotionally and physically safe spaces, volunteering one’s time; all this and much more are components of what lead to healthy, well-rounded development.
A focus on whole child development is really a part of a continuum along the age spectrum of our focus on overall health and well-being for all, and is core to the accomplishment of our new strategic plan: IMPACT 2020. In fact, Y associates are working right now to develop and roll out highly intentional training and resources to help all of us, regardless of what program or service we provide, sharpen our game in more measurable ways to help the children and adults we serve achieve a healthy balance and sense of well-being in their lives.
I am so proud that our leadership in Youth Development was recognized and re-affirmed by the invitation to be one of the featured organizations in this NBC event. Many thanks to Michelle Becote-Jackson for ably and expertly representing our work and our cause. It was indeed a proud day for the Y!
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland