Kishwaukee Family YMCA

Youth Development Alerts Healthy Living Social Responsibiliy

Hop the Gap

The Y helps young people overcome barriers

Our Summer Camp program is addressing issues related to hunger, health, learning, water safety and access to safe spaces.

All kids face gaps that can prevent them from reaching their full potential.  HTG Graphic

This is particularly true for kids living in lower income households.  As a community, we must do more to bridge gaps for all youth and put them on a path to succeed.

  • Nearly half of our country’s children are growing up in low-income households (Anne Casey Foundation, 2014)
  • By fifth grade, children in low-income households are two to three years behind in reading compared to kids in middle-income families.

Summer months are a critical time for learning loss.

Kids benefit year-round from Y programs – but it is more critical during the summer months, when kids are at greatest risk of falling behind.

  • Studies show that during the summer, most students lose two months of grade level math skills; low-income students also lose more than two months of reading achievement.
  • Last year, 21 million low-income children received reduced-cost meals during the regular school year; only 1 in 7 of these children continued to receive meals throughout the summer. (USDA)


1 in 5 children don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Food insecurity greatly impacts a child’s development. In our communities, the Y is able to help children in need through the Voluntary Action Center and Walmart Summer Food Grants. Across the country, the Y serves five million meals and snacks during the summer to children in need.

HTG Girl Jumping Rope HEATLH

Solutions to childhood obesity, lack of physical activity and food insecurity require difficult lifestyle changes. Teaching healthy habits is at the heart of how the Y supports the development.

CATCH educates children about healthy living and provides take-home educational materials for their families. The program incorporates lessons and activities about healthy eating along with physical activity.


Most students lose two months of grade-level skills in the summer.

Math and reading skills decline during summer months and there is a greater decline for less economically advantaged students. By the time students are ready to graduate from high school, the low-income children are performing at about the same level as eighth graders from families with means (National Center for Education Statistics 2010). The Y’s summer learning programs can help close the achievement gap for all students. The YMCA Enrichment plan is designed to weave reading together with fun activities in a seamless manner so that campers work on improving their reading skills without realizing the underlying intent of the activity.


Water accidents are a leading cause of serious injury for kids.

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1 – 14. The Y teaches more than a million children vital water safety and swimming skills each year. Free University Village Swim Lessons, Summer Camp and Swim Lessons educate children on water safety. The Free University Village Swim Lesson Program is offered to school aged children who live in or around the University Village Complex.

HTG Children Circle SAFE SPACES

Outside of school, youth don’t always have a safe place to play.

Creating safe spaces at the Y begins with the hiring process and continues during employment. To keep children in our programs safe, our YMCA partners with Praesidium a national leader in creating save environments for kids. This partnership gives us access to tools and resources to provide a safe environment. Praesidium’s Safety Equation is a standard for hiring and continuing safe practices that includes screening and selection, training, monitoring and supervision, internal feedback systems, policies, consumer participation, responding and administrative practices which equal a safe environment.

How the Y Can Help.

For more information on how the Y is building potential and closing the gap, visit

In order to help more youth “Hop the Gap,” we need you to join the Y’s efforts. To donate, volunteer or join, visit for more information.