A YMCA swim team age division, formally known as “midgets” went under a renaming to “novice” thanks to a family in Pennsylvania. The family who made this change consists of courage, triumph, heartbreak and perseverance, and I cannot wait to meet them at the LPA National Conference next month!
I have been in contact with Mom of the family for quite a few months, and we have talked about it all, from fresh farming to daycare issues and many things in between. I have learned much from her, as she is older than me and mother to two- and when she had first mentioned the swim team name, I was ready to write letters and emails in support… but the best part? I didn’t have to.
Here are a few excerpts from their story sent to me by Mom.
This morning my husband discovered that our local YMCA’s 8 and under swim team is named the Midgets. I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed before since I drop Child off at daycare there since September. A quick Google search reveals it may be a name used NATIONALLY.
I had a nice conversation with someone from the YMCA organization last night about the use of m-word that is used to describe age division in their competitive swim. She told me that the use of m-word among competitive swim teams occurs only in PA, where I live. She agreed with me that it was unfortunate that it continues to be used and she was confident that my request to have it changed would not be ignored or protested. She provided me with the name and email address of the newly-appointed swim coordinator in PA. His response is below and I’m satisfied with it. I’ll follow-up with him in a few weeks or so.
I did speak with our local Y swim director to let her know about the discussion and email. She told me that she double-checked our facility to be sure the word did not appear on anything. The only thing she could find was on a roster which they will discontinue using.
Again, here is the email from the PA swim coordinator:
Hi Mom of the Family,
Pennsylvania swimming does not have an official term for 8 and under swimmers. The youngest age group for our districts and state championships is 10 & under (which we call “cadets”). Most areas of the state use the term “novice” for 8 and unders. I will look into where the term “midget” is being used and encourage them to make the change.
Until *** sent me an email yesterday, I was not aware that anyone was using anything other than “novice”.
I will keep you posted.
YMCA PA Group Representative
Amazing stuff, right?
This Mom took the time to make a few phone calls to her local Y and at the state level, and was answered with understanding. And change! I want to say that being CPL was crappy… because it was. Sometimes, it still is (although it does bring change- did you read YESTERDAY’S POST?), but for the most part, I am so proud of what our community can accomplish by just asking. Just like this Mom, I was met with understanding from a company who admitted they were a but behind the times and were ready to move on. Due to the anonymity of online commenters, “trolls” came out to speak their minds, though only from the safety of their monitors and screen names. Though many are still afraid of the backlash they may receive from their local communities (and possibly nationally), I am proud of the numerous who have made changes- whether they choose to share or not.
I proudly educate about dwarfism, as well as encourage all to reassess their verbiage. Many who still use the m-word do so without the intention to harm, but not all good intentions end up as such. Raise awareness with me. Share your stories. Make a change. I don’t expect to alter history, but I do hope to brighten the future. Thank you for taking this journey with me.
No names of the Family written about will be released due to personal preference. If you have a story to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the contact page. Together we can make a change- let’s share how, together!