October 24TH marked Wilson-Gray’s fourth year annual Halloween Event. The night was filled with fun and laughter from over 300 families and youth who take apart in the evening’s festivities. Our signature Haunted Maze encompassed volunteers from several of our youth programs, adult members and staff. A night of terror took place because of our collaboration with Hartford’s Compass Peace builders; we were able to cater to youth of all ages. The event offered a frightful movie for our tots with popcorn and candy bags. Our Halloween event proves that our hard work to provide safe fun and services can be achieved always at Wilson-Gray.
Y-TIP hosted the first annual Y-TIP Awards Recognition Banquet. This banquet highlighted all of the major accomplishments of the program participants. The program was led by the youth in the program. Here is an overview of the highlights of the youth involved in the program. 100% of the senior program participants have graduated high school and will be attending college in the fall. 10% of the youth in the program received the Work Readiness certificates for completing an intensive cover letter, resume, and mock interview for a potential job workshop. 8% of the youth were awarded Youth Ambassadors for their leadership and role modeling skills for the youth at the YMCA. 12% of the youth received Community Service certificates for going above the required hours of community service for the year. 10% of the youth received recognition for Outstanding Academic Achievement. 3% of our program participants have been hired as Leaders in Training for the summer here at the YMCA.
The Y-TIP dinner had over 90 families and sponsors attend the dinner. Dajah Jackson received the AAA free driving school scholarship awarded by an AAA representative. Kani Blake was awarded Y-TIP Youth of the Year. June Archer a motivational speaker and author was the keynote speaker for the event. he empowered and inspired those in attendance and challenged the youth to chase their dreams. This was a great event and really displayed the impact that the program had on the youth. They worked very hard and were very committed to the program. We look forward to growing the program this year. There will be a middle school age and high school component to the program which will meet independently on Monday’s and Thursday’s from 5:00pm-7:00pm.
On July 18, 2014 the Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth & Family Center hosted a Youth Empowerment Event. Many of the local agencies and youth organizations were invited to the event. June Archer a Hartford native and community leader was the master of ceremony for the evening. The gym was filled with over 200 youth and family members. Representation from the local radio station HOT93.7 was in attendance as well. There were a number of young inspirational speakers addressing the audience. Through spoken word and poetry the families were reached. The message was to dream big and make the necessary steps to achieve your goals. The keynote speaker for the night was Eric Thomas a motivational speaker from Detroit Michigan. His passion and enthusiasm invigorated the minds of the youth. He challenged them to strive for excellence. This event was very instrumental to the families in this community. They had the chance to connect with many community leaders. Abdul-Rahmaan Muhammad from the Dream Chaser Support Network followed the event with the Ice Cream For a Dream. Each participant in attendance would tell Eric their dream and receive an ice cream. The youth in the community left the event feeling recharged and inspired. We were grateful to host such a great event. We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts with other organizations to provide the best opportunities to empower our youth in the city.
Written by Tim Baymon
On Friday, June 6th, several branches in our GHYMCA family traveled to Mystic, CT for the Annual AYP conference. This conference is an opportunity to celebrate the success of all the YMCA branches in our region, Chapter 3.
A big part of the celebration is a presentation of awards to people who have made an impact through their work for the Y. This year several people from our association were honored with awards!
This year’s entertainment at the conference was a hypnotist…aimed at creating a fun time for our staff. Leslie St. Amant and I volunteered to be “part of the show”…. For those of you who were lucky enough to see the show ….it was very entertaining to say the least! Apparently I did some great ballet and a fantastic rendition of Lady Ga Ga….
As April said…”All in a day at the office…..” Remember… if we are not having fun, our members are not having fun!!
The Wilson-Gray YMCA is proud to bring a shining light on our Silver Sneakers Program and its new class, Zumba Gold! Zumba Gold is a combination of dance and exercise for men and women over the age of 55. Members practice different styles of dancing with all types of music while getting a terrific workout. Zumba Gold is held every Saturday 12pm-12:45pm and has become a great edition to the Silver Sneakers Program. This past Saturday, members had the opportunity to be filmed and photographed in recognition of the program’s success. This will be shared throughout the Y. “I didn’t think I can still move like this” said one of the participants. We have heard nothing but positive feedback and hope to continue to make a difference in the lives of our members.
This past weekend Camp Jewell joined us at Celebrate West Hartford. The weather was beautiful and we had a great time talking to families about the amazing summer we have in store. We participated in the “Step Up To Health” challenge, our theme being “Hoop and Holler for Camp!” The challenge was set-up as a scavenger hunt, with children having to search for our booth and six others to complete a healthy activity of some sort in order to get their book stamped and receive a prize. We had three activities to choose from: A Paddleball Challenge- testing their hand-eye coordination, Hula-Hoop Challenge-testing their endurance and a Slingshot Challenge-testing their aim. Needless to say, we came across some very skilled children!
-West Hartford-Tri-Town YMCA
Tahreem Ali is a member of our L.E.A.D Teen Program (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Achievement, Diversity). She feels that she contributes to making the Y “so much more” because she collaborates with other teens to develop ideas, programs and initiatives that better the community.
Tahreem participated in our Annual Campaign Phonathon this year and raised $40! Calling people for donations can be extremely intimidating, but Tahreem dialed with a smile and maintained a positive attitude throughout the night. Without the support of selfless people like Tahreem, we would not be able to live our cause and impact as many lives as we have.
-West Hartford/Tri-Town YMCA
“Today I helped Victor with his multiplication homework and after one explanation, he was able to do the rest by himself. I’ve never seen him smile so bright. I know how crucial small accomplishments are to building a child’s self-confidence and having the ability to play a part in that is extremely rewarding.”
-Devonte Williams, West Hartford/Tri-Town Child Care Aid
Before coming to work at the Y, the times in my life when I was humbled by what I saw or heard were much fewer and far between….
Now…it is almost every day…this is one of those days…..
Hunger in Children
Why do people eat? People eat when they’re hungry. People eat because they like to eat. People eat when they are mad or upset. There are some people who cannot eat because they don’t have money or the means to get food.
Why are children hungry? Children are going hungry because parents don’t have money to feed them. Some parents don’t have jobs, others spend their money on things they don’t need, and some parents spend money on drugs instead of food.
Where do these children get food? These children depend on other family members bringing them food. Sometimes they go to soup kitchens to get food. They don’t always go with their parents because their parents often don’t care. I have known seven year old kids taking their younger brothers and sisters to soup kitchens to get something to eat.
Some kids wait until they go to school and eat as much as they can at breakfast and lunch because they won’t eat again until the next day. They will pack extra food into their back packs to save for later at home. Some kids beg for money at gas stations, in front of convenience stores, on street corners, anywhere just to get money. In extreme cases, they will steal.
Who should feed these children? In an ideal world the kids’ parents are the ones who should feed them by taking responsibility for their children. However, this is nowhere near an ideal world. The question remains, WHO should feed these children? I would like to know because I was one of them.
The Youth Teen Incentive Program (Y-TIP) collaborated with Billings Forge and Trinity college students on the Hartford Reel Youth Film Festival. This was their first year participating in the film festival. There were a total of four videos written, produced, and edited by the Y-TIP youth displayed at the event. These youth had the opportunity to learn a new set of skills in the area of script writing and filming. They were challenged to think outside the box and create films that addressed the many challenges that they face in their communities. Everyone did a great job and look forward to participating again next year.