On Sunday, Dec. 1, the West Cabarrus YMCA opened up its Family Fun Pool for Muslim women only during the morning hours. Respecting the Qur’an’s admonition that women should be modest, this very important segment of our community has not always had an outlet for enjoying the health benefits and pleasures of time in a swimming pool, and since mixed gender bathing is prohibited, there has been a gap in meeting the needs of some of our neighbors.

This pilot program reflects the core mission of the YMCA - to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. In that Christian principles are caring and inclusive, we are respectful of various expressions of faith and serve families and individuals from all traditions, backgrounds and perspectives.

Respect for the diversity of expressions and desire for inclusivity helped the West Cabarrus YMCA staff engage in dialogue with Imam John Ederer of the Muslim Community Center of Charlotte to see if the perceived needs were indeed valid for the Muslim women in our region. Unhurried and thorough, the preparations have been falling into place for a little over a year – complete privacy curtains over all the windows and doors, exclusively female lifeguards, guarantee of single gender presence in the pool area, private area for changing, signage in English, Arabic, and Urdu – all came together for this experience which our YMCA hopes to expand into the new year.

Our desire this month of December 2019 is to be open on the five Sunday mornings for these ladies and children from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Since an existing collaboration between Abundant Life Community Church and the West Cabarrus YMCA has the facility open for worship during this same time frame, existing assets are being leveraged to expand our service reach into the community. Our desire is to transition this Women of the Qur’an Program into our norm for the 2020 calendar year.

The prime motivator for this? Jesus shared with his disciples in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Note: West Cabarrus YMCA is open to members every Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.

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Robert Kirk is the executive director of the West Cabarrus YMCA.