Walnut Hills Kids Growing Vegetables This Summer


This summer, children in Walnut Hills are learning to appreciate and enjoy vegetables at Camp Walnut Hills at the Melrose YMCA.

In the center of a grassy lot across the street from the branch, youth have been working side-by-side with YMCA staff building and nurturing a vegetable garden…even making colorful signage. It is important work – planting, weeding, and making sure the plants are watered so that in the fall they will have lots of colorful nourishment to try for themselves and share with older adults in their neighborhood.

It is all part of the Let’s Move It! program partnership between the YMCA and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital aimed at encouraging youth throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky students to lead healthier lifestyles.  The Programs goals are to encourage kids to strive daily to eat FIVE servings of fruits and vegetables; aim for less than TWO hours of screen time; engage in ONE hour of physical activity; and have ZERO sugary drinks.  In addition, the program focuses on water consumption and making physical activity fun.

“Exposing children to healthy eating and social responsibility is an important focus for us at the YMCA,” said Sara Lewis, Director of Out-of-School Time Programs. “Through creating the garden and participating in its cultivation at every step of the way, youth learned the importance of giving back to their communities and gained a true appreciation of vegetables and the farm to table journey.”

In the fall the students will be sampling their produce, sharing it with community members, and preparing healthy meals for their families.


A Teen’s Perspective On ‘Caring’


On April 17, 2012 Erin Daniels, a junior at North College Hill High School in Cincinnati, will be among 40 local students who will be honored by the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati as a YMCA Character Award recipient. Each of the honorees has her/her own very unique story of making a difference but what they all share is how they are role models for the character values of caring, respect, honesty and responsibility.

I was with Erin recently for a television interview and afterward asked her what it means to be ‘caring’. This is what she said.

YMCA Character Awards 2012 news release

2012 YMCA Character Award recipients 2012

The YMCA Character Awards Event will be April 17, 2012 at the School for Creative & Performing Arts. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets for the event are $25 for an adult or $10 for a youth. To purchase a ticket, please call 513-246-3205.

I have a few tickets to give-a-way. I will be drawing on this coming Wednesday from among my Good Things Pledge champions. Not a champion yet? It’s simple. Just visit the page and add your contact information.

YMCA Celebrates 40 Examples Of Character Values


I’d like to introduce you to pretty awe-inspiring youth who I’m very lucky to be getting to know. They are some of our Greater Cincinnati area’s great role models for caring, respect, honest, responsibility and caring. I’m talking about the 40 teenagers who will be celebrated on April 17 as YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Character Award recipients.

Take for example…

Linnea Head, a student at Seven Hills School, whose influence has been described as ‘legendary’. A fearless model of ethics, it was during a school assembly when she stood before her student body and inspired every student to choose ‘trust’. Again she rallied her classmates to a cause when she heard about a Ugandan elementary school for displaced children.


Dion’te Riley, a Withrow University High School student who traveled to the Domincan Republic to participate in a food drive. He personally collected enough food to fill 17 grocery carts for families in need.

Each one of the YMCA Character Award recipients has his/her own very personal story for impacting their world. I encourage you to please click the link and read more about them. If you know one of them…please congratulate them.

Or better yet…please join Tracey Johnson of FOX19 and the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati at the YMCA Character Awards Event on April 17.  It begins at 6 p.m. at the School for Creative and Performing Arts. Cost is $25 per person for adults; $10 for youth. You can call 513-246-3205 to reserve a seat.

2012 YMCA Character Award recipients 2012
YMCA Character Award recipient list 2012

I will have two pairs of tickets to the event to give-a-way. I will be randomly
drawing two names of people who are Good Things Pledge champions. An additional
chance will be given for participating in the Good Things Going Around Facebook page.
Drawing will be on Wednesday night, April 11, 2012.
Not a Good Things Pledge champion yet? Just add your contact information on the Pledge page!

Honoree Shamari Hinkston Talks About ‘Caring’

YMCA Salute Gala Celebrated Achievers


I just wrapped up working on a wonderful project – the Salute to YMCA Black & Latino Achievers Gala.

David Garibaldi, known the world over for his amazingly unique stage entertainment, brought his show to our region for the very first time as he created four 6 ft tall masterpieces before a filled Bank of Kentucky Center arena with more about 550 seats sold – at the Salute to YMCA Black & Latino Achievers Gala. The evening was a celebration of the potential of young people when inspired by caring adult role models who are volunteers of the YMCA.

The YMCA Salute Gala honored local professionals who are giving back as volunteers of the YMCA’s college readiness program. Also honored were eight teens selected to receive YMCA scholarships, including Breana Marie Nicholson – who was honored as 2011 YMCA Teen Achiever of the Year. Lisa Martin-Patterson and Olivia Darks were honored as YMCA Black & Latino Achievers Program Community Volunteers of the Year. James T. Cowan, MBA, and Chrystal Davis, were honored as YMCA Adult Achievers of the Year.

One of the largest regional programs of its kind, the YMCA Black & Latino Achievers Program motivates students of color to further their education and goals with help from successful, professional role models. Since its beginning, the Program has served over 6,000 teens, awarded over $200,000 in scholarships, assisted youth with over $4 million dollars in awarded scholarships and engaged more than 4,500 adult volunteers through a network of corporate and community partners.

The Salute Gala also raised essential funding so that the Program can continue to offer this valuable experience to hundreds of area youth, paving their path toward college and a career.

(photos by Mark Bowen)

Cincinnati Has A New YMCA Youth City Council



Following campaign speeches to about 200 Cincinnati area high school students, the 2011-2012 YMCA Youth Cincinnati City Council has been officially sworn into office and was publically introduced before Cincinnati City Council on October 5, 2011.

The elections were the culmination of an annual two-day YMCA Youth in City Government conference aimed at engaging young people in having a voice within their communities, and strengthening leadership and communication skills.

The year-round YMCA Youth in City Government program gives Cincinnati students the opportunity to learn about local, state, national and international politics. It offers teen participants a venue to gain leadership skills, strengthen their ability to express ideas clearly and persuasively, and learn fellowship by working together with peers from diverse backgrounds.

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is one of the area’s largest nonprofits focused on engaging individuals and families in youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. This year more than 125,000 people will come to the YMCA to learn, grow and thrive. Adult role models nurture positive values and life lessons in children through sports, summer camps, structured child and afterschool care, and leadership building programs. Branches offer quality time for families to be together, resources for parents, and a variety of opportunities for seniors to be active.  The YMCA ensures these opportunities are available to everyone no matter their ability to pay with generous support from community partners and donors.


left to right: Virginia Hollatz (Mt. Notre Dame H.S.); Jane Eby (Mother of Mercy H.S.); Jordan Stevens (Mother of Mercy H.S.); Benita Munnerlyn (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy); Joseph Trentman (School for Creative and Performing Arts); Kyle Denman (St. Xavier H.S.); Nick Staresinic (Moeller H.S.); Kyla Norton (School for Creative and Performing Arts); Sami Spanagel (Mt. Notre Dame H.S.); Stephanie Cline (Mother of Mercy H.S.); and David Frost (Altersgate Christian Academy)

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