EDMOND — Dawna Blue was a single mother who needed somewhere for her 14-year-old son to go while she worked and tried to make ends meet for herself and four boys.
She didn't need a baby sitter. She wanted much more for her son.
“He loved life, but he wasn't too focused,” she said of her son, Jadyn, now 15.
Dawna Blue turned to the YMCA in Edmond where her son joined Leaders in Training, a program that teaches leadership skills that can be used at home, at school and in the community.
“He changed overnight for the positive,” Dawna Blue said. “He was totally in love with it. He felt accomplished and was excited to go back.”
Jadyn Blue, a freshman at Edmond North High School, agrees with his mother.
“It helps teens who want to be a better person,” he said. “We go out in the community and help people who might not have everything they need.”
Better yet, Jadyn Blue said, he made a lot of new friends during the summer program. He has plans to get a job at the YMCA, where his leadership training will continue.
Jadyn Blue might never have had an opportunity to experience the YMCA and its programs without the scholarship program.
He was one of more than 2,000 participants who received more than $300,000 in scholarship assistance last year in Edmond.
“We won't turn anyone away due to the inability to pay,” said Mike Roark, Edmond YMCA executive director. “We use a sliding scale and the income and how many are in the household.”
The YMCA at 1220 S Rankin St. and the soon-to-open Mitch Park YMCA and competitive swimming pool are part of the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, which has a dozen YMCA locations in Bethany, Chickasha, Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Guthrie and Edmond.
Other YMCA locations are Greenbriar Program Center, an Oklahoma City preschool; Lincoln Park Senior Center, a senior center operated by the YMCA and the city of Oklahoma City, and the Military Welcome Center at Will Rogers World Airport.
YMCA officials and volunteers are kicking off their annual campaign to raise money for assistance for memberships, child care, resident and day camps, youth activities and teen, military and senior programs.
The largest portion of the donations, 46 percent, goes to financial assistance for memberships.
Last year, the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City awarded more than $2.9 million in program support and individual financial assistance.
“We are excited because we want to make the quality of life better,” Roark said.
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AT A GLANCE
Mitch Park YMCA
• Adult membership: $535 annually
• Family membership: $804 annually
• Day pass: $10
• 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday
• 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday
• 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
• 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday
• 130 people