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Making a difference is my Y.

As the Family Support Facilitator for the YMCA Young Parents Program, I am grateful to be able to make a difference in the lives of young mothers and families in our community.

Each day, myself and Lana Skelton (from Kelowna Secondary School) work closely to provide mothers, under the age of 24 years old, with the fundamental tools they need to continue their education and care for their young ones.

Many of them face significant challenges in their lives, which are often difficult to overcome without the support of community resources and positive role models. Our support is tailored to the specific needs of each young parent. We start with building a trusting relationship. Then we help participants overcome any barriers they have to success, such as self-esteem, relationship building, goal setting and money management — equipping them with vital life-skills needed to realize their full potential.

In addition, the Young Parent Program offers mothers parenting education, daily meals, diapers, formula, clothing for their child and other necessities to help them and their babies thrive. The parents are always grateful to YMCA donors for their generosity in providing these supports and making it possible for their children to attend quality child care while they are in school.

Ultimately, the most rewarding part is seeing young parents succeed, even beyond their own expectations. It is so amazing that it brings tears to my eyes.

—Joan Spence