Member Profile: Biko, Katie and Kitty from the South Side YMCA

September 11, 2013

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Who: Biko, 6-year-old competitive swimmer, and his moms Kitty and Katie

Favorite Y Programs: Swimming

Best Thing About the Y: All the caring people who work and go there.

Katie and Kitty’s Advice: Take your kid to a swim class and stick with it! Biko loves it. We’ve heard so many adults talk about how they never learned to swim and they always wish they had… It’s especially important in Chicago with the lake. You want kids to be safe and hold their own in the water until somebody can help them. Swimming with the Y teaches commitment, socializing, safety, and definitely fun. Just keep going!

Biko’s Advice: Diving is really good because it helps you get a really big boost in the water.

Shout-out: Thanks to Lareatha, Curtis, Will, Brad, Julia, Kia – every aquatics instructor at the South Side Y has been fantastic.

What Biko does at the YMCA:
I do a lot of things at the pool. I practice breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle. I also do diving, butterfly, and I practice different turns. I go to the Porpoise Swim Club and attend a lot of swim meets. When I was really little, I went to class with my Uncle Rich because I had to go with a parent, but now I can swim on my own. I attend family swim with my moms sometimes, too. I also learn diving when I go to swim team practices. It’s my favorite! I have to jump far and high and then I go in headfirst.

I really like swimming because it’s fun being in the water. The teachers are pretty good and the people are really nice. I’ve made a lot of friends at swimming classes. Last year for my birthday I had a big party at the YMCA in the pool with a lot of my friends. It was really great!

What Brought Katie and Kitty to the YMCA:
Katie: The Y has been a really big part of our lives. I grew up in Cleveland and went to the Lakewood Y when I was younger. It was a huge influence on my life. We wanted to give Biko that same chance to have a great background in swimming, so we signed him up to take classes with his Uncle Rich when he was about six months old. We haven’t regretted it at all.

Kitty: I grew up in Chicago, and just like Katie I went to the Y when I was young too. I did swimming, I attended resident camp, and I even went to Atlanta for college and joined a Y there working as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. The bottom line is that the YMCA has always been a helpful, open place for us. We signed Biko up without hesitation because both of us already knew just how great the Y could be.

Why Katie and Kitty Love the Y:
Katie: I think my favorite thing is the consistency of the teachers. Lareatha has been working with Biko since he was six months old, and he’s been able to know many of the other instructors for almost as long. Even the people at the front desk know Biko when he comes in and say “hi.” It’s a really stable environment for him. He knows that everybody there cares about him. So do we.

Kitty: I agree. It’s also been great that all the instructors have been great role models for Biko, especially the male instructors since Biko has two mothers. Everybody there knows him. One time a while back he was talking to one of his teachers and he kept saying oh, he felt bad, he was sick, he was really tired. Lareatha saw right through him. She came right over there and started scolding the other instructor for falling for Biko’s trick. She knew he was playing around. Biko grinned because he knew he’d been caught, and everybody laughed, it was so silly.

It’s a small story, but it’s one of countless little things showing how much trust and love there is between each person at the Y. We always know he’s going to have a little adventure with some really wonderful people when he goes swimming.