Since its creation 175 years ago, the YMCA has provided young men and women opportunities to give back to their communities, develop leadership skills, and actively participate in local government. Members of a service-learning program called Y-Corps visit Sounds Good to discuss the program and the impact Y-Corps has had on their lives.
From the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association website:
"Y-Corps is a service-learning program for students who want to make a difference in their communities and around the Commonwealth and country. The program incorporates the 4 types of service we emphasize at the Y:
- Perform direct and indirect service in their local communities (goal determined by team)
- Practice philanthropy by fundraising for a scholarship fund
- Engage in advocacy on behalf of their Y-Corps teams and the YMCA Movement
Participants in the Y-Corps program form a cohort of passionate young people from across the state who have been exposed to the wide range of cultures, strengths, and needs that make up our Commonwealth and country. Through a combination of hard work, cultural experiences, travel, self-discovery, and reflection, Y-Corps extends the Y's mission into communities throughout our Commonwealth and beyond."
Members of the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association Y-Corps are participating in their annual service tour this month, in which members perform various service projects in different communities throughout the Commonwealth. While in Murray, Y-Corps members plan to volunteer in Central Park and at the Calloway County Public Library. Along the way, these young men and women develop lifelong friendships, grow as individuals, and learn more about their homestate.
"I feel like, as teens, we should all take part in service. It's in the back of our minds to help, and there's that need and urgency to serve our communities and to take part in action," says Haley Comstock, a 16 year-old member of the Kentucky Y-Corps. "[And] over the course of these six months, I've made bonds and friendships with our team members from Louisville, we have a girl from Pikeville, it's just so vastly different learning the lives of all the rest of the members of the team. I'm from Owensboro, so I don't get that [life] aspect of living in the city in Louisville or going out in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. So that's very eye opening to see other aspects."
Participating in community service and developing long-lasting relationships with individuals they might not have met otherwise helps the members of Y-Corps not only better their community, but better themselves. "Before Y-Corps, for me, I was involved in many different other types of service...There's some service that's more meaningful to you personally, and that's just based on what your passions are. But honestly, any type of service that can really better the lives of other people is service that's very worth doing," explains 16 year-old Demos Negash, another member of the KY Y-Corps. "It was through my school Student Y that really opened me up to new people and gave me new opportunities. It's much more than just the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association. It also opens you up to so many more things, and that really goes a long way not only in high school, but in life."
"I would definitely encourage everyone to be involved in the KY YMCA Youth Association programs because they've honestly shaped me into the person I am today, and I'm very grateful for the experiences I've had through the Y," says Autumn King, a 17 year-old Y-Corps member from eastern Kentucky.
For more information on the KY YMCA Youth Association programs, including Y-Corps and how to apply, visit the YMCA website.