I hope we can all agree that we want to support and raise good kids who flourish and become our leaders for tomorrow. To help support positive youth development emphasis needs to be placed on character development. Character development are the non-academic skills that helps young people flourish. Character is the values, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors that prepare youth to thrive in learning, in work, and in life.

At the YMCA character development and youth development have been at the core of our mission and a large part of the programs we provide. We have placed emphasis on Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility to establish a foundation for youth in developing positive character values. From a personal development perspective, we teach youth to be leaders. We have realized that character development has to be part of a broader youth development strategy. It is not just about developing character, but also focusing on physical and cognitive development.

Through YMCA programs such a Y Safe ‘n Sound, Youth Sports, Day Camp, Swimming Lessons and Swim Team we have developed curriculum and lessons which support character development and actions which help demonstrate good character. Additionally we have recognized the role of adults in working with youth and the support they provide in being positive role models. All adults in a child’s life have the opportunity to positively impact the development of good character values.

At the YMCA we believe all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. We want to be partners with families to help support youth development. Together we need to understand youth, and understand the issues around diversity and inclusion. Understanding is how we can help youth be healthy and successful in their 21st century world.

The Naperville YMCAs values the opportunity we have to make a positive impact on the youth and families we serve each day.