It has been brought to my attention that some students in our athletic after school programs feel personally victimized during our activities as a result of racial slurs and inappropriate comments from peers. These situations have made some of our students and parents feel victimized, unsafe and unwelcome in our programs. Feeling unwelcome in a place that is to be considered a safe zone, such as our YMCA facility, isolates these individuals and proposes a potential threat to community health. We have had multiple member complaints within the past couple of months, more so within the past month. The front desk staff and team members have done a great job of addressing and handling the complaints and relaying the information to me.
I want to make it clear that this is not, in any way, a reflection of our values as teachers, fitness instructors and community members. The YMCA promotes healthy living and positive community growth and these prejudices, no matter how small they may be, hinders our ability to do so. First and foremost, the YMCA does not promote nor condone this type of behavior, as we have a Zero Tolerance policy in place that all students must sign at the beginning of their registration process. A violation of these policies indicated in their registration forms will result in an automatic dismissal from our programs and/or a temporary suspension from our facility, depending on the situation.
Secondly, it is our duty to maintain a healthy and safe, both emotionally and physically, for all of our members, regardless of ethnic, social and racial background. It is important for us to empathize with all of our students, no matter the age, and understand the situation from which their coming from and the context in which these situations are occurring.
If at anytime during your time with the students you are unsure about a possible confrontation or inappropriate behavior, do not hesitate to tell me or one of our assistant managers and we would be more than willing to help control and understand the situation. I would much rather have the situation be nothing at all than have a serious situation remain unresolved.
With cases like these, it all starts with you guys as instructors and teachers. You have the most interactions with your students out of any staff member here at the YMCA and know them best. Therefore, you have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for their development. Racially directed insults and comments are emotionally harmful have no place within our facility. Whether or not you witness these in person or hear about it from another student, they are not to be taken lightly.
Some instructors have been very persistent about documenting these incidences and making me aware of these situations. However, I want to make sure that all of my staff are following the correct procedure for handling these situations accordingly. I understand that these are very sensitive topics and every case has a different dynamic. It can easily become a sticky situation. Because of this, I want to make sure that you guys have the proper skills and knowledge to handle these situations appropriately and effectively.
Therefore, to make sure that we are all on the same page on the procedure on documenting and addressing these kinds of situations, I am requesting that everyone take an informational course on the YMCA values and procedures. I will also be holding a meeting sometime in the near future to elaborate on this issue and answer any lingering questions. Further details about the meeting are to come.
As always, my office is always open so feel free to drop by anytime or approach me, via email or text, with any questions or concerns that you guys might have.
Have a wonderful evening!
Northwest YMCA Youth Fitness Supervisor
Phone: (408) 573-2292
20803 Alves Drive
Cupertino CA 95014