For 132 years, the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA has worked to create a healthier Tampa community, help kids and families and engage community members to work together to create a better tomorrow.
The Y provides a place for people—regardless of age, income or background—to be healthier, more confident, connected and secure.
From quality out-of-school programming to life-saving swim lessons, values-based youth sports and engaging healthy activities for the entire family, our programs and initiatives develop a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.
Many parents are likely aware of our fitness and youth sports programs. However, many may now know that we offer programs for children as young as 2 years old!
The Little Learners program is generously funded by the Conn Memorial Foundation and provides children ages 2-5 with activities to enhance emotional, social and motor skills. The Little Learners program helps children engage in structured activities to help prepare them for kindergarten.
Grismeldy Rodriguez and her partner Albert Arevalo enrolled their sons in this program to socialize with other kids their age.
Abel and his identical twin brother Adiel were in a class with 10 other Little Learners. Rodriguez had fears going into the program: “We were worried the boys weren’t ready to be in a social setting with other children and considered pulling them out of the program, but Erica (the Program Director) assured us the boys were benefitting from it.” During the six-week class, the Arevalo boys had a steady yet robust social learning process.
Erica Brundidge is the Early Childhood Engagement Director at the Spurlino Family YMCA. She and her team work hand-in-hand to provide children with fun, developmentally appropriate educational activities.
“For many families, the Little Learners program is their child’s first experience in an early childhood education setting,” Brundidge says. “One of the primary reasons families enroll in the program is to provide their child with an opportunity to learn and socialize. On the last day of class, I was able to share a milestone I observed earlier in the day. One of the boys initiated play with a classmate, something he couldn’t do at the beginning of the six weeks. When I witness that type of growth, I know the mission of the Little Learners program is being fulfilled.”
Programs like Little Learners prepare our youngest community members for a bright future.
In 2021, through the support of donors and community members, the Tampa YMCA provided 26,349 children with education support through early learning, after-school care and summer camp programs.
Rodriguez and Arevalo are proud of their sons’ accomplishments and experience as YMCA members.
*Presented by the YMCA | Originally published in September 2022 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.