Youth in the Manhattan area have it pretty good. They might not all know it, but they have opportunities that kids in a lot of other places don’t get.
Not that area children are more loved than children elsewhere. That isn’t the case. But our children are the beneficiaries of a unique communitywide collaboration that helps steer them away from actions that might not be good for them and toward activities that can help them grow in more ways than they might think are possible.
The collaboration — of local educators and other professionals involved with children, the KSU School of Education and countless volunteers — also involves the YES! Fund. YES stands for Youth Empowerment for Success. And for more than 20 years the YES! Fund has subsidized programs and activities that stimulate young minds, young bodies and young imaginations.
It supports cultural, athletic and academic programs, along with activities that help children acquire new skills, make friends, develop respect for others and learn something about themselves.
Many of these programs are offered after school, a time of day when young people, especially those whose parents are at work, might otherwise not be occupied. Studies and experience have shown those after-school hours to be the time when children on their own are at the greatest risk of getting involved in activities that lead to trouble.
Providing alternatives takes many forms. There are sessions in schools and elsewhere on topics of interest to young people, including projects involving the Manhattan Arts Center, Sunset Zoo and Wonder Workshop. A variety of athletic teams keeps children of all ages active. Young people who want to focus on academics — to review or to learn something new – will find after-school opportunities in science, math, Spanish, history and other subjects. Kids can even learn sign language. YES! also supports scout troops and UFM youth programs.
A couple other elements of this unified endeavor not already mentioned involve the generosity of YES! Fund sponsors and countless area residents who recognize that today’s youth are tomorrow’s citizens and leaders. We encourage residents to give what they can, and note that once again their gifts will be matched 100 percent, which means that a resident’s $25 gift will result in $50 going toward youth programs. The matching organizations are the Caroline Peine Charitable Foundation, the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation and the YES! Fund Advisory Board.