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Cultivating Belonging for Our Youth

My name is Steven Chan and I am the Preschool Site Coordinator at St. Francis. Before this, I was a preschool teacher for over fifteen years at schools that served as model schools in the early education field for aspiring students who were thinking about entering the field. Since then, joining the YMCA has brought me the opportunity to give back and provide help to families in my community with the knowledge and skills that I have gained.

St. Francis Preschool is housed in an aged facility. Because of this, the team and I have created an aesthetically pleasing environment because we believe it is crucial, especially in schools, since it significantly impacts individuals' overall well-being and quality of life. I believe access to a beautiful environment should not be determined by zip codes, income, or any other reasons and therefore, every child and family should have the opportunity to access beautiful, excellent schools

Since St. Francis is housed in an older building that does not have all the amenities nor all the luxuries of a modern building, we have aimed to show our families and community that we care and respect them by intentionally demonstrating and cultivating an environment that pays attention to detail which, in turn, has received positive feedback while pleasantly surprising everyone who walks through our doors. When giving tours or having new guests, I frequently hear “Wow, this is really nice” because it shows that we have blown away their preconceived notions about our school. Meanwhile, our “art gallery” hallway serves as a window for our community to witness the activities within our site with a quick stroll into the classrooms.

As staff, we want them to walk into this space and feel that this is a great school with thoughtful teachers. We seek to showcase our youth's work as accomplishments, fostering excitement and a desire for them to be in our small but magical space. We want youth to walk into our school every day and feel they helped create this magic

Our level of care ensures that our classroom provides our youth with a "home away from home."  Essentially, our school goes beyond superficial beauty; it is about creating spaces that promote happiness, well-being, and a deeper connection to the world around us by cultivating a greater sense of pride, community, and social cohesion.

We believe that beautiful surroundings have the power to uplift mood, reduce stress, and enhance our overall mental and emotional state. Our goal is for parents and youth to feel like they are in a beautiful school that offers comfort and a sense of Belonging, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status.

Learn more about our Early Child Development Centers at and how our sites and programs provide high-quality professional and nurturing care to our youth.

Join the Y today and learn about how you can get involved!


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