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The Y Launches the Green Whistle Initiative for Referees Under Age 18

Everett, WA. January 8, 2024 — YMCA of Snohomish County is proud to implement the Green Whistle Initiative, inspired by a successful program from Basketball Victoria. This program uses a green whistle as a simple identifier for referees under age 18, reminding everyone involved in our sports community to prioritize respect and appreciation for sports officials, regardless of their age.

The Y has over 1,100 youth basketball games scheduled during the next two months and referees play a vital role in making the season possible. Referees ensure fair play and foster a positive environment for players, coaches and fans.

“Unfortunately, instances of disrespect and even verbal abuse towards referees are becoming increasingly common, especially for young officials,” said Chris Bellecourt, Association Director of Youth Sports, YMCA of Snohomish County. “Over 80 percent of our referees are under age 18 and for many, it’s their first job. We want to support them as they are learning the ropes by providing a safe and encouraging environment.”

The program is designed to help young referees develop leadership and professional skills, so they are equipped with essential skills when they do face pressure during game situations or interactions with fans, coaches and players. The hope is that when someone sees a green whistle, they will pause and reflect on their own role in creating a positive game experience, instead of fixating on calls or criticizing officials.

“We rely heavily on young officials at the community level and it’s our responsibility to provide the best experience possible,” said Bellecourt. “When refs encounter disrespectful behavior, they may feel discouraged and leave their job, jeopardizing the future of officiating in youth recreational sports.”

Implementation of the Green Whistle Initiative draws attention to other ways everyone involved in sports can contribute to positive change in youth sports and teaches young athletes good sportsmanship, teamwork, and fair play.

“We are hopeful that through this program, we can create a supportive environment where young referees feel valued and encouraged,” said Bellecourt. “When we treat others with respect and kindess, everyone benefits, creating a better sporting experience for all.”

For more information about jobs at the Y or youth sports, please visit

The Y Hosts Its 3rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Inspirational Weekend

Everett, WA. December 11, 2023 — YMCA of Snohomish County will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by hosting its 3rd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Inspirational Weekend on January 12-15, 2024.

The weekend kicks off with an inspirational breakfast on January 12 from 7 – 9 am at the Angel of the Winds Arena (1028 13th St., Everett, WA 98201) and culminates with a Day of Service on Monday, January 15 from 9 am – 1 pm.

“The Y is compelled to honor Dr. King’s legacy because his teachings inspire our commitment to foster equality and provide opportunities for all in our community,” said Peyton Tune, President and CEO, YMCA of Snohomish County. “Our mission and work are made better every time we reflect on the enduring impact of King’s teachings and legacy.”

The Y has a meaningful connection to Dr. King. Before he was a civil rights champion and humanitarian, before he delivered his universally-acclaimed “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington, and before he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, King was a young child who found a second home at the Y. As a boy, he learned to swim at the historic Butler Street YMCA in his hometown of Atlanta, GA.

“This unique connection to Dr. King inspires us to live out his values in our daily work,” said Tune. “We look forward to honoring his legacy and then getting out in the community to serve our neighbors.”

Community members are invited to attend the Inspirational Breakfast on Friday morning. Bestselling author and communication expert, Eric M. Bailey, will give a keynote address about how to combat the divisiveness in our society by welcoming all into a conversation, followed by a dialogue about how to move forward and positively impact our local community.

On Monday, January 15, YMCAs throughout Snohomish County will host “Make It A Day ON, Not A Day OFF” community service projects honoring Dr. King’s servant leadership spirit. The Y will mobilize hundreds of volunteers who will give back to their local community through various service projects, including tree planting in Monroe, food bank support in Mill Creek and Mukilteo, and assembling care packages for seniors in Marysville.

“The highlight of the weekend is our Day of Service when we get the opportunity to live out Dr. King’s legacy,” said Tune. “By gathering together to serve, we are truly answering his question, ‘what are you doing for others?’ in a real, tangible way. This is about serving our neighbors.”

For more information about breakfast registration or Day of Service volunteering, please visit