The Y program teaches teens how to tackle taxes, budgets, voting, and more.

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Every day, young adults leave the nest and embark on journeys into adulthood, leaving behind parents who cross their fingers and hope for the best, while expecting panicked calls home for help. advice or help.

This fall, however, the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA, 225 Washington Ave., is committed to helping teens become more independent and giving parents more peace of mind through a six-week, “Almost Adult” course. The class is an engaging and practical crash course in life skills.

Melissa Preston, Director of Youth and Family for the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA, compiled a basic list of skills she felt were most often lacking among the teens and young adults she worked with. worked over the years.

“A lot of teenagers openly joke that at 18 they don’t know how to vote, they don’t know what they’re voting on, they don’t know how taxes work. It was kind of a running joke. So when we looked at the skills gaps with the kids I had worked with, we found that many of the skills needed revolved around understanding voting, taxes, budgeting, and housekeeping. says Preston.

In the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA’s “Almost Adult” class, children will learn skills such as filing taxes, how to vote, budgeting, car maintenance, and more. Throughout the course, businesses and individuals with particular community expertise will present information in seven key areas: filing taxes and a basic understanding of how they work, the basics of voting and registering to vote , home care and management, budgeting and financial management. , car maintenance and safety, basic cooking skills, resumes and job interviews.

While most adults understand why these types of skills are essential for success, some wonder why these types of courses are necessary. Why don’t children learn these skills at home or at school? Preston says the answer is simple: a change in direction for schools and society.

“In some research I’ve done, the big thing is really how we as a society have changed. If you look at past generations, especially baby boomers or Gen X, you see them coming in into the workforce a lot earlier. They come in around 15, 16, they’re doing these part-time, entry-level jobs…there was more pressure to get them into the workforce than there is has now. Now we’re really focused on our kids’ academic success, what their high school experience is like, their sports, their extracurriculars. It’s because we’re pushing hard to get to college,” says Preston.

In some ways, schools have their hands tied. Although the skills taught in courses such as home economics and the workshop are valuable, school budgets tend to focus more and more on the core areas, i.e. those that appear in state and national tests.

Preston explains: “Because of standardized testing, schools have had to shift towards more academic achievement in core skill areas, less in what were seen as extra-curricular subjects like home economics and shop. If you quit standardized testing, you must achieve the big four: English, math, science, and social studies. »

Almost adulthood will certainly fill in many of the gaps caused by this societal and educational change, and with the support of the United Way of Bay Countyit will be free for all participants.

The Y staff explains that one of the reasons it offers the “Almost Adult” course is because the kids tell them they don’t understand the basics of voting. The class seeks to change that. Nicole Luczak, CEO and Executive Director of United Way of Bay County, says the agency is thrilled to help fund the YMCA’s new teen program.

“Centraide’s investment process is community-driven, which means allocations are recommended by a committee of diverse volunteers. Each program must align with the priority areas of health, education and income stability, which we believe are the building blocks of a successful life. The YMCA Almost Adult program provides skills that teens might not otherwise learn, but are absolutely essential in life. We are thrilled to see the impact this is having on the ability of young people in our community to be self-reliant and lead successful lives,” Luczak said.

Joslyn Jamrog, director of memberships and marketing for the Y, says she is thrilled to offer programs for teens. “We are working on new programs for people in this age group. It is part of our strategic plan to find more to do for this age group. It’s exciting for us!

The Y also offers financial assistance programs to help defray costs.

The Almost Adult program is offered to teens 14-18 on Mondays from November 2 to December 12 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the YMCA Pool Lounge. Jamrog says the program will be offered in two more sessions, one in the winter and one in the spring.

Although Almost Adulting is free, pre-registration is required and the program is limited to a maximum of 30 participants. To register now, go to online registration page or call the front desk at (989) 895-8596.

If you or someone you know is an adult expert with specific skills that fit one of the seven areas and would like to teach, contact Preston at (989) 895-8596.

Preston hopes the program will have an impact on participants. She says, “We want to give them the starting point to have a little softer landing as they transition from home to those independent spaces like college or the workforce.”

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