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Kingsport YMCA celebrates the contribution of immigrants

STAFF REPORTS • Sep 19, 2019 at 12:37 PM

KINGSPORT — The Greater Kingsport Family YMCA was in a welcoming mood this week.

YMCA officials joined with Welcoming America and hundreds of other YMCAs across the country to celebrate “Welcoming Week”  — a nationwide event aimed at celebrating the contributions of immigrants to their communities, while bringing together all residents in a spirit of unity.

Locally, the YMCA held activities at its main campus and all 13 of its afterschool sites.

“At the Kingsport YMCA, we believe our community is stronger when everyone feels welcome and we can all work together for the common good,” said Abigail Weaver, vice president of advancement at the YMCA. “Welcoming Week is an opportunity for neighbors — both immigrants and U.S.-born — to connect, find common ground and celebrate our shared values.”

Welcoming Week demonstrates that in places large and small, rural and urban, people of all backgrounds are coming together to create stronger communities, Weaver added.

“I’ve really started to realize the diversity we have among us, across many dimensions, and how important it is for the Y to be a safe place for all,” she said.

Here are some of the events held this week:

— The YMCA hosted an African Drum Circle on Tuesday, conducted by Youth Villages.

— Students learned new ways to say “Welcome” — in Spanish, French, Mandarin, sign language, and Arabic.

— Some of the afterschool programs hosted family members of Y students to share family history stories and cultural facets like food and music.

YMCA members also have the chance to participate in an “I’m a Welcomer” activity all week long and think about ways they can be welcoming to others. The Y is encouraging participants to share their experience on social media using the hashtags #YForAll and #thisisKingsport.

“These events are part of a powerful and growing movement in our country and around the world, demonstrating that communities want to be welcoming,” said Rachel Peric, executive director of Welcoming America. “Welcoming Week is a reminder of the resilient and inclusive spirit of American communities. Thousands of local leaders nationwide are bringing their communities together to bridge divides and build stronger local economies where everyone belongs.”