YMCA Midnight Madness Program

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Pablo Munoz, executive director of community relations for the Valley of the Sun YMCA, talks about the Midnight Madness Program at the Maryvale YMCA which provides basketball, performing arts, and other recreational activities.

José Cárdenas: The school year is coming to an end for most kids and if you are looking for something to do in the west valley, there is one program making a difference in that community. Here to talk about this program is Pablo Muñoz, executive director of community relations for the YMCA. Pablo, welcome to "Horizonte."

Pablo Munoz: Thank you for having me.

José Cárdenas: We want to talk about the program, called midnight basketball. And I want to talk more broadly about the Y's Hispanic initiative -- the Y's Hispanic initiative. What's involved there?

Pablo Munoz: It's located at the Maryville YMCA. The Indian school. We identified from a number of different studies the need for youth to have supervised activities for them at particular times during the weekend. We identified major areas of juvenile delinquency and crime by the youth there. In a conscious effort, the YMCA decided to implement a special program which there will be activities from 7:00 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and throughout the weekends. It started with basketball but now is our Midnight Madness Program. It's more than basketball. There's basketball tournaments, we have music, art, dance, there's a recording studio there also. A variety of activity averaging 150 kids to 200 kids during the weekend that come every night and take advantage of the activities.

José Cárdenas: The program's been going on for a year and a half.

Pablo Munoz: About a year and a half and completely endorsed by the police precinct and starting to reduce crime during those times. Keeps the area safe and keeps kids in an area where they're safe, enjoying themselves, where they're empowered to take activities and becoming more involved in the community.
José Cárdenas: You're looking to have ten thousand kids in the program.
Pablo Munoz: Yes we're looking to have 10,400 kids participate this year. We do it on a year-round basis and we're starting to reach that and incorporate them, as well as their family.

José Cárdenas: As I understand it, it's part of a broader Hispanic initiative that began in 2005.

Pablo Munoz: In 2005, the valley YMCA made an conscious effort to get more involved in the Hispanic Latino community. We reached over half a million communities members throughout the state of Arizona, in our 17 branches. We do 283 programs. We've specifically identified that 40% of community members are from Hispanic Latino descendant. Since 2005 there's a number of projects and initiatives that we brought forward with the goal of putting the YMCA strong nonprofit, identified to providing services to Hispanic communities and brought in Hispanic Latino council made up of 15 state up to national level leaders in the community.

José Cárdenas: This is a more recent initiative? 2009-2010.

Pablo Munoz: That is correct. We're basically in our second phase right now. We're referring to that particular initiative as our Latino Hispanic Engagement Project. Now that the initiative is in place, let's start to engage our Hispanic community into the YMCA services but let's be cautious and communicate properly so we can provide the services.

José Cárdenas: There's a connection between the efforts and the Y's rebranding itself, what people see as rebranding and the three pillars that are the focus of the Y.

Pablo Munoz: Absolutely we're rebranding our logo. We're referring to ourselves as the Y, which is what the community refers to us as. We wanted to ensure that we are for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. These are the pillars that uphold our mission which is developing a healthy spirit, mind and body for our community members.

José Cárdenas: We have on the screen the website for the Midnight Madness. You have a variety of partners that help you fulfill those three pillars as it relates to the Hispanic community.

Pablo Munoz: We have partners, particularly with the school districts and nonprofits organizations, like Chicanos Por la Causa, Latino perspective, the city police precinct. The local school districts, Phoenix Union High School and elementary schools, a variety of entities coming together as a whole. The Y has become like a pillars in the community in which people can come in and be able to engage and we want to be sure we're serving not just athletic and physical aspect, which we're known for, but we do incorporate social responsibility and civic engagement so that the communities can revitalize and improve themselves.

José Cárdenas: Give us an example how that works for a particular youth involved in these programs.

Pablo Munoz: A good example would be the K-12. Students that are currently or have been dropout students. They come into the YMCA and we take advantage of our technology centers and use the Arizona virtual academy curriculum and they work at their own pace to earn their natural high school diploma. They come in and during the process, we engage in a college access environment in which college becomes secondary education and learn and identify, and become engaged and motivated so that they can acquire a post-secondary education. Here comes some of the other partners that you're referring to, Devry University, Arizona State University, the university of Arizona, in which we're engaging in having them provide those opportunities for the students as well as our campaigns providing critical funding dollars for scholarships for them to go to college.

José Cárdenas: On that note, I'm afraid we're out of time. Thank you for joining us.

Pablo Munoz: Thank you for the opportunity.

José Cárdenas: You're welcome. That's it for us tonight. For all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Pablo Munoz:Executive Director, Community Relations for the Valley of the Sun YMCA;

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