An Outstanding Teen Named Kani


Kani Blake is one of our outstanding teens here at the Wilson Gray YMCA. She is a senior at Great Path Academy Middle College High School. She is also a member of our Y-Teen Incentive Program (Y-TIP) and Y-Achievers program.  As a member of these programs, she has taken advantage of the opportunity to participate in all of our community service projects and attend all of our college tours this past year. Furthermore, Kani has become an exceptional student and leader.  She was awarded our first AAA driving Scholarship based on her assertiveness and hard work.  In addition, she is now a National Honor Society student. She has just completed a summer job here at the Wilson-Gray YMCA working with the pre-teen population (8-12 years of age).  She is on a path to graduating this year and attending college.  We are very grateful to have youth like her and hope to develop more youth that we can speak in high regard such as Kani.  

Written by,

Tim Baymon

Wheeler’s IRON-WOMEN Cross the Finish Line

I had posted a few months ago about this journey that 7 women from the Wheeler YMCA Tri Club were on.  A journey that would take them to a place they have never been before.  A journey that would test their strength not only physically but mentally.  On Sunday August 18, 2013 these 7 women completed their journey as they crossed the finish line at the Timberman Half IRONMAN race in New Hampshire.

The 70.3 mile journey which consisted of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run was no easy task and the 8 months of hard core training pushed these ladies above and beyond their limits.  They proved to themselves that anything can happen and that their bodies are stronger then what they think.

I have been part of this journey and I cannot even explain the emotions that I went through during the 8 months of training and most importantly on race day.  I have been truly blessed by being able to help guide those that needed some assistance.  Lending an ear when it was time to vent.  Offering my shoulder to cry on.  Motivation when someone felt defeated and most importantly being a friend that was honest when honesty was needed!

I am beyond proud of Angela Fasold, Mary Norbut, Dorothy Weber, Holly Peterson, Allison Post, Jordan Green and Jen Cambi for racing their hearts out and leaving it all on the course.  They have inspired their children, their spouses, their friends and so many others that they are already discussing “What Half IRONMAN are we doing next year?”

Congratulations to Wheeler’s IRON-WOMEN!



Flash Mob!!

Recently, the Hartford Project wrapped up their summer clean up program. The mission of the program is for kids from the  surburban areas to give back to local communities within the city of Hartford. They work in nonprofit organizations throughout the city over a two week period. At the end of their two weeks, the participants came together for a flash mob at the Old State House. The Wilson -Gray YMCA ELITE Cheerleaders had the pleasure of participating in the flash mob with countless others. It was great to see everyone giving back to the community in their own way. Click on the link to watch the video!

Hip and Fit Showcases

 It was an exciting climax for the Hip & Fit after school  wellness program as all the sessions wrapped up. The program’s mission is to improve the overall well-being of youth between the ages of 5-17 by providing a fun innovative curriculum that targets the mind, body and spirit. Every class is infused with positive affirmations and include a cardio,  coordination, and a rthymic component. The hard work of all the instructors and students over the past few months were on display as each school held their end of the year showcases. Performances included Zumba, hip -hop dance and drill team.  Watch the videos to see more! 

Camp Jewell Alumni Association Awards Scholarships


is this May
Congratulations to Evan Katz, Ranch Village Coordinator, and May Liu, Nit Nois international counselor from China, for each being awarded a $500 CJ Alumni Association Scholarships this summer! This is the first annual scholarship, which recognizes the hard work and dedication of current summer staff members. This is one way our Alumni Association commends our amazing coordinators and counselors for choosing to dedicate their summer to help kids discover the possibilities at Camp Jewell.

Evan is currently a student at Tunxis Community College who’s headed to Central Connecticut State University in the spring to study elementary education. May is studying communications and English studies and plans to attend a postgraduate program to study elementary education. Good luck in your educational pursuits Evan and May!

The Power Of An Email

This is an email recently sent to Tiffany Archibald at Downtown. Thought it would be great to share on our blog…..

I just wanted to share some information with you. I am an alumna of the fall 2012 Livestrong program at the YMCA in Hartford. After surviving two cancers, chemo, sepsis and a host of other complications, I joined the program and worked hard at it. I stayed and became a mentor.

I made a plan (inspired by other survivors) to ride the 25 mile portion of the Connecticut Bike Challenge. This organization empowers cancer survivors. I was on a mission like no other. I rode a stationary bike, I took some spin classes (one of the hardest things I have ever done) and when spring time came around I started riding outside (not well mind you but well enough).

I even “hacked” a jersey and my Y t-shirt to make my own personalized biking jersey.

On Saturday July 27 I not only finished the ride but I also got my team’s Rookie of the Year award. I could not have done it without the Y and Livestrong.

Here are pics of my jersey and me with the award.

Thanks again.


p.s. I tell everyone about the YMCA/Livestrong program.

livestrong 2 livestrong blog medal

Living Livestrong Off the Clock


I came in early this morning to cover the opening shift at our Wellness Center. One of our Livestrong Trainers came in to do an early morning work out. A few minutes behind her, a past Livestrong participant followed. Our staff Trainer, happened to be at the Wellness Desk and greeted the member warmly. The member started to tear up and was invited by the trainer to take a seat and talk. They sat there together for about 20 minutes…the member sharing and the staff person listening and offering support and comfort. Not many people noticed, but I did and I’m thankful to have witness this powerful exchange of love and commitment. No one was paid, but several were blessed.

Leaders In Training

The Leaders in Training Program partnered with Charter Oak Cultural Center this summer. During the program artists came to do two classes called Hip Hop, and Spoken Word.  Charter Oak offered to pay for one teacher and 5 classes when we paid for the other artist and classes.

The Spoken Word Class was a creation of a collaborative Rap/Hip-Hop/Spoken Word poetry performance piece, students increase awareness of how repetition, tempo, and order are used to enhance poetry, music, and even everyday communication. First, confidence in using a range of traditional and electronic sounds is gained. This is followed by a comparison of spoken and written text. Students revise word placement and stress to alter meaning, through figurative language, puns, and poetic license. Gaining familiarity with vocal, facial, and physical performance cues, they prepare to present a finished work.

The Hip Hop Dance is this upbeat class, students will use hip-hop and street dancing to develop hand eye coordination, rhythm, flexibility and learn to self-express themselves as individuals. Students will improve stamina and get a great cardio workout as they perform choreography to today’s music.

Both of these classes were very successful and the Leaders In training really looked forward to each class. Classes were held every Wednesday for the month of July and first week of August for one hour each. This class was not only fun but very impacting on these teens, and now they are able to express their feelings through poetry, and dancing. 

Jessica Brown
YMCA Program Coordinator
Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth and Family Center

Kids Can TRI Too!

I had the pleasure of working with 30 happy, energetic, strong, determined, amazing children this summer for our Kids Tri Series. The smiles on their faces after they finished each race was priceless and the best part was getting all the hugs, thank you’s and super excited stories from each athlete as they kept chanting, “I cannot wait until next summer!”.

We had partnered up with the Southington YMCA and used Camp Slopers’ grounds to hold these events this summer and I am thankful for their involvement with this program. The kids enjoyed swimming in the lake, biking around the lake on a dirt path and running around all the sports fields. But the best part was the watermelon and popsicles after each race!