Marvelous Mondays!

Dear Mr. Austin and Ms. Yanus,

We have had such an amazing experience at the Farmington Valley YMCA I felt compelled to let you both know.

My little Wesley at a bit over 3 years old was doing well working on physical and social skills at his gym class. Knowing his challenges with change, confidence and trust we were broken-hearted to hear that the gym was closing, and began searching for something to fill the void. We decided to try swim classes at the Farmington Valley YMCA. We spent weeks prepping him knowing how difficult it would be for him to get used to a new type of class, a new building, a new teacher and new routine….the thought of adding the water factor on top of all this mounted up to great worry and stress on my part.

The first class we were greeted warmly by Wesley’s new teacher, Stephanie Calamari. With a gentle demeanor and kind heart she lead him into the water…I held my breath. As expected, the first day he was terrified. However, I was happily surprised that he took right away to Miss. Stephanie. She was actually able to keep him in the pool, albeit on her hip, the entire class. She was patient and worked very hard on getting Wesley to trust her the first class. Stephanie even spent an extra few minutes with him after class to get him used to being a bit independent in the water. She also talked with me after class about her plan to help Wesley progress. The next week I had a hard time convincing him to go back. When I reminded him how Miss. Stephanie was right with him in the water he decided himself that he would try it again. This time Miss. Stephanie encouraged him to stay on the wall without her. He was uncomfortable at first and cried for a minute. Stephanie glanced at me for agreement in doing this, which made me feel comfortable. Wes quickly acclimated as Miss. Stephanie kept checking in with him and he felt secure that she wasn’t far away. Only seven classes later, with her supportive yet challenging style of teaching, he is jumping off the side and swims, with bubble, across the entire length of the pool. He loves going to swim class. The only challenge now is getting him out of the water when class is over.

My daughter, Ellery, who is in the same class started with a different set of challenges. Ellery was very afraid of going underwater. I am happy to report that last class, after a private sidebar conversation with Miss. Stephanie the week before, she worked up the courage to give it a try. Low and behold she loved it, and did it over and over the whole class. Miss. Stephanie was so proud of Ellery and genuinely shared in her happiness at her success.

As a Mom on the sideline watching this amazing person help my children face their fears and support them as she does, my heart is warmed. I know I have found a wonderful place for the kids to work on a new skill in a comfortable, encouraging and yet challenging environment. Stephanie makes learning and practicing new skills fun with different games and an upbeat personality. Seeing Wesley go from clinging to Miss. Stephanie to jumping in and swimming the whole length of the pool, while Ellery is down one bubble and going underwater in just one session is unbelievable. We are so happy we have found this class for both of them.

In addition, I would like to thank Miss. Lauren for her wonderful support as well. When Miss. Stephanie was out sick one week, I was very nervous about how the change would go knowing what a hard time Wesley has with it. At the beginning of class he did not even want to get in the pool and by the end of that same class was smiling from ear to ear at her antics.

I guess the icing on the cake would be the friendly faces that great us at check in every week. All the employees are consistently kind and friendly. All of this adds up to make our day every Monday. We so look forward to it every week.

We couldn’t possibly be happier with our experience at the YMCA. So, kudos to the Farmington Valley YMCA’s swim program and those that make it what it is.


Jessica Barcomb

2 thoughts on “Marvelous Mondays!

  1. My favorite part of this story is how Stephanie was so thoughtful in her effort to help Ellery, understand the families concern, and obvious joy she felt in seeing the child succeed – that’s a Cause Driven Leader if there ever was one!

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