Liberia: YMCA Ends Children's Vacation Sports Program

The Liberia Montserrado County Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) has concluded its children's vacation sports program in Monrovia. The closing ceremony, which took place on September 2nd, was held at the Montserrado County YMCA Headquarters on Broad Street in Monrovia.

Clay Crain, Managing Director at APM Terminal Liberia, in his remarks at the closing ceremony, said that the YMCA is doing great things within the community by promoting skill training and humanitarian efforts. According to him, for over a hundred and forty years, the YMCA has been studiously supportive of the youth and people who enroll in the program in Liberia.

"This program provides an opportunity," he said, "for young people to come together for healthy competition, teamwork, and an appreciation of the art, culture, and dance of their country, all while having fun." He added that the YMCA Children's Vacation Sports program is just one example of the great work APM Terminal has been doing over the years in Liberia, along with other local entities, to improve the lives of Liberia's future leaders.

"This is the type of commitment and dedication that deserves the support and respect of the community they serve," he noted. He added that the programs help teach Liberian youth to compete, to have passion, to work together, and to form lasting friendships across cycles and geographical limits, empowering future leaders of Liberia with values and ideas that will help them grow into responsible individuals and contribute to the peace of Liberia and the world.

He further stated that APM Terminal is proud to work and participate in the YMCA Children's Vacation Sports program and celebrate the accomplishments of the children. "APM Terminal Liberia is a proud sponsor of this program," he said. "It is a prime example of how neighbors should come together to support our large population."

According to him, this year they extended their support to increase the number of jerseys supplied to five hundred and twenty-eight for the forty-four teams, beyond their original commitment from the APM Terminal's original sponsorship in 2022. Crain expressed appreciation to YMCA for providing APM Terminal with the opportunity to contribute and participate in supporting the betterment of Liberia.

Hattie Wureh Hunder, YMCA Montserrado County, disclosed that every year they strive to create a safe space for children when schools are closed. "We look around us, we see what is happening to children," she said, adding that some girls are being raped, boys are being sodomized, and drug use is prevalent even in schools. "We choose to be different and stand apart from what's not good."

According to her, children go to the YMCA every year to spend their time and learn a variety of things. Meanwhile, Hunder encouraged children to continue coming to the YMCA every year and disclosed that they are planning to improve the program. "It cannot remain the same way every year," she said. "Taking care of five hundred students every year is challenging, but it can be done." She added that they will continue to enhance the program so that children can keep learning and benefiting from it.

Hunder expressed appreciation to the staff of the YMCA for sacrificing to make the program a success. She also appreciated the parents for sending their children to the YMCA to be a part of the Vacation Sports program.

T. Martin Allen, YMCA Montserrado County Coordinator, disclosed that for the past two months, parents entrusted their children to them during the vacation, and they are delighted that they had a wonderful time sharing and learning, making new friends, promoting talents, and enjoying various activities.

According to him, over the last two months, they taught the children about drugs and substance abuse. "We have a team that we are collaborating with, and they have been educating our kids about substance and drug abuse. We also had another professional who taught them about protocol and etiquette," he said. "During this period, we even taught them arts and crafts." He added that they plan to enhance the children's vacation sports program with language education in the coming year.

However, Allen congratulated APM Terminal Liberia for being the second highest sponsor in the YMCA annual children's vacation sports program. "We want to say thank you for the support you provided to these young people," he said. "These are young people from various quarters of our communities, they come here during the vacation, and we keep them very busy while mommy and daddy are out there working." Allen expressed appreciation to the parents for entrusting their children to them and assured them that they look forward to a better and brighter program in the coming years.

Atty. Samuel F. Dakana, National Security Sector Reform Coordinator at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, spoke on behalf of the parents, and expressed appreciation to the Montserrado County YMCA for teaching and taking care of their children. "This is not an easy task," he said. "Taking care of kids from diverse backgrounds, different homes, different upbringings, and different experiences is very challenging."

He told the children that the YMCA Children's Vacation Sports Program is a learning platform and encouraged them to utilize the knowledge they have acquired, especially in computer skills and other disciplines, as life is about building oneself. "You may not be fortunate to get everything you want at home, but these are the setups, these are the structures that you can use to grow and become responsible," he added. "As you prepare to return to your various communities, we want you to go there sound and let people see new things from you, a new attitude. So that when they ask you, you can proudly say, 'Yes, I am a product of the YMCA.'"

However, Dakana congratulated the children for giving their time to learn and complete the program.