One, two, three, Ninja ready!
During every Ninja Kids class at the Southeastern Indiana YMCA, youth run, climb, hang, swing, and flip their way around the gymnastics room.
However, “the Ninja program here at the YMCA isn't just about running around doing obstacle courses,” emphasizes Youth Program Coordinator Mindy Freese. “This is a high-energy program with fun strength and balance training activities. We instill problem solving tactics and teach core values to help build a well-rounded child.” 
“We have three age groups: 4-5, 6-9, and 10-12. Our No. 1 learning goal is safety. We have safety techniques for falling, landing, and basic transitional movements with surface changes. Ninjas will learn basic skills to roll safely from variable levels. They also practice basic vaulting, wall and bar progression, and precision jumping and landing from variable heights.” 
Freese adds, “Body coordination and spatial awareness are incorporated in course challenges. We teach discipline to help the kids stay focused and safe. Most importantly, we teach the youth that as a Ninja, not only do you need strong bodies, you also need strong minds. We focus on character building guided by the YMCA's core values – caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.”
Ethel Rodriguez wanted her son, Samuel, to participate in this program in order to get exercise, “try new things, improve his abilities, and have fun. He loves it!”
Samuel, 9, reports that one of the things he learned in this class is “you need a lot of momentum to do the (uneven) bars.” He enjoys the warped wall the most “because it's fun to climb and jump off of.” 
Betty Snyder decided to sign up her son Gavin (8) for Ninja Kids “to keep him active.” This program has helped him “be persistent when he's trying to do new tasks and not give up.” 
Gavin has discovered, “you need to roll when jumping from high things.” His favorite part of the program is playing dodgeball tag.
Freese believes the Ninja Kids program “is a combination of all the well-established programs the Y has to offer.” It includes “strength and coordination, which is much needed for any sport and fitness program, and we add agility and focus.” 
“I have been a pediatric therapist for many years, so I have seen children go through pain, work through struggles and try their very best no matter what the obstacle. In this program, I feel that I can continue doing what I love by helping children succeed.” 

She points out, “My little Ninjas are so inspiring. We can all learn from their strength and determination.” 
For more information about Ninja Kids or other programs at the Southeastern Indiana YMCA, please call 812-934-6006 or visit siymca.org.