AMHERST – It’s a simple but strong sentiment: Every kid deserves a chance.
The YMCA’s annual Strong Kids campaign kicked off Feb. 15. It runs nationally for a month. But at the Cumberland branch, fundraising for this cause happens year-round, and some of the local Strong Kids events won’t occur until the end of March.
“We don’t ever want cost to be a barrier,” said Cumberland YMCA CEO Trina Clarke.
Strong Kids aims to raise $100,000 over the fiscal year to subsidize membership, program and childcare dues for people who otherwise wouldn’t have the financial means to use the facilities. Clarke said they still need about $40,000 to reach their goal.
One element of the campaign Clarke is very excited about is the Dare to Care component. Last year, a handful of prominent Y staffers and volunteers promised to complete a ‘dare’ based on who had the most money donated in his or her name. Once they realized the collective sum would exceed $5,000, it was suggested all of them do their promised antic – in the case of Clarke, participating in a synchro-swim.
This year, the CEO has extended the idea to visible members of the broader community, such as the mayor of Amherst and warden of the county. No word yet on if they’ll participate, but four of the principals the Y’s contacted are on board. As for what these new enlistees will do, “they have to come up with them themselves,” said Clarke.
The CEO said the ideal activity balances fun with humiliation.
The campaign benefits families but focuses on kids. Events targeting different age groups are planned. A ball hockey tournament March 24 will be for kids aged about 10 to 15, she said, and a dance-a-thon March 23 will be for preteens. Children already in daycare at the Y will have the chance to sleepover at the facility March 1. The youngsters will also have art for sale March 24.