Camp Changes Lives

My child had a hard time with making friends and her self-esteem was very low by the end of the school year. Over the course of the summer, while she attended a Leader in Training program at the Glastonbury Family YMCA day Camp, she made new friends and has gained confidence to continue making new friends even after the program has ended. Her confidence has skyrocketed and I attribute this to the caring support she received from mentors and peers and helping take care of the younger kids in the program. She has learned leadership skills and has become more physically active. I can’t thank the YMCA family enough for all that they have done to improve our family life. We look forward to many more years with the Glastonbury Family YMCA, not only for my oldest child, but also for my younger ones as well.

The Road to Recovery

My name is Janine Conti and I am a Certified Health Coach and Independent Team Beachbody Coach. I want to share with you my journey of how I began living a healthy lifestyle.
Two years ago, I was unhappy with my career and I needed a change. I was a teacher and I loved the aspect of helping children learn, but I also had a passion for wanting to help people live vital and healthy lives. At work and in my day to day encounters with people, we would often talk about healthy life choices, healthy eating and ways to exercise. I realized how much I loved sharing my fitness and nutrition tips with friends and so I decided to go back to school and become a Health Coach. I also continued my journey of living a very healthy lifestyle. I began incorporating whole foods in my daily diet and exercising regularly. I was feeling great and beginning to find a balanced healthy lifestyle that I was enjoying.
Then in April of 2013, I was diagnosed with Cancer. It was like getting punched in the stomach really hard! I couldn’t believe that I had cancer… I thought I ate well and exercised enough. I quickly realized how off-balanced my life had been for so many years and this imbalance and stress led to cancer developing in my body.
Just like most people who receive this devastating news, I panicked. I thought immediately of my 3 amazing boys who were going to go through life without their mother. This attitude didn’t sit well with me and after 3 days of feeling at my lowest, I decided to get up and change my outcome. I worked on getting second opinions and then I went with my intuition. I went down a road of finding balance in my treatments as well as in my healing and recovery.
My goal was to rid my body of cancer and so I received radiation, chemotherapy and I also had surgery. In addition to the traditional treatments, I received Reiki, Spiritual healing, bio-identical hormone therapies, and energy and visualization sessions. I also developed a practice of daily journal writing, expressing gratitude, surrounding myself with positive energy, developed my relationships with family and friends, exercised daily, and developed a strong appreciation for our natural world. I saw my future in a very different light. I saw joy and love…. peace and contentment. I also saw health and strength. These visions brought me out of a very dark place and now I am thriving.
After my surgery in September, I developed a very bad infection and was hospitalized for over 20 days. My body had been assaulted from the treatments, surgery and infection and I was at my weakest point physically. My immune system was compromised and I had been placed on very high doses of antibiotics for over a month. My recovery from this was slow. It was here that I learned of a program called Livestrong. It was for cancer survivors. I could barely walk at the time that I joined. We met 2 days a week for 12 weeks and they worked on developing my physical strength and provided group support as well. I had 2 goals when I went into the program. I wanted to get physically stronger so I could ski with my family this winter and the second goal was I wanted to start health coaching again so I could share my experiences, my road to recovery, and what it means to live a fit, active, and vital life.
So here I am today. It’s January of 2014 and I graduated from Livestrong, I skied 10 runs in a row the other day with my family and I have started helping people meet their fitness and health goals once again. If it wasn’t for Livestrong, I don’t think I would be where I am today. It was the inspiration and motivation I needed to begin living again.
Most importantly, I am living a healthy, vital and balanced life. Each day I balance my time between 5 areas. I exercise every day in my Challenge groups, develop my spirituality through appreciation of the beauty in our world and expressing gratitude, help other people live a fit and healthy life (my career), develop my relationships with friends and family and I eat whole foods along with drinking a dense-nutrient superfood shake that builds my cells, tissues, muscles, organs as well as detoxifies my body.
So join me on my journey of living a balanced healthy life. I can’t wait to help you succeed with your challenges and help you develop a balanced, fit and healthy life.

Empowering Youth

So towards the end of the day today, all of the kids were leaving.  Kayla’s mom approaches me and and asked Kayla if she had told me the great news.  I was so confused.  Kayla told me that she auditioned for the play Alice In Wonderland and was cast as the lead role as Alice! This was such a huge deal!  Kayla’s mom pulled me aside all teary eyed and said “Mark and I owe this all to you Alisha.  If you hadn’t given Kayla the confidence to sing with you in front of everyone during the holiday show, she never would have felt confident enough that she could do it.  You truly helped her take that next step and fulfill her dream.  I can’t thank you enough.  You truly are an amazing individual.”  I literally had tears running down my face.  Little does she know, I never would have sang in front of all those people had she not asked me.  I was terrified, but I am totally invested in these kids and it’s these little moments that make it worth everything!


The Real Winners…

The day had just started and I needed to get everyone to sit quietly so I could do attendance so I said we were playing the “let’s see who can sit the quietest without moving” game. If they won I told them they could pick a prize from the prize box. One kid in particular, Nate, didn’t talk or move at all so he picked this huge plastic medal that said the word “winner” across it. He of course flaunted it around because he was so excited he had won the “game.” A good 45 mins passed by and we transitioned to a new game. Out of nowhere, Nate came up to me and was like “Ms. Alisha, I don’t think I am a real winner.” Concerned and a little heart broken I asked why he thought that and he replied “I honestly think that you are the real winner Ms. Alisha. I have so much fun when you teach me and I always learn so much. So thank you!” Tears in my eyes, I hugged him and told him he was also a true winner and an amazing person.

Just a Van Driver

I was recently needed to drive the van to bring kids to school for the morning run. I was really not looking forward to it at all. I have so much on my plate and this is not what I needed. The very first day I met a young boy named Michael and he talked to me the entire ride to school. He was the sweetest young boy and I wished him well on his day at school. The next day another staff member drove the van and said Michael was asking where I was and why I wasn’t driving the van. As the weeks have gone on, I find myself wanting to drive the van just so I can talk to my new friend Michael. He likes music, he likes cars and he likes asking me about how my life is going. I no longer feel like I am just a van driver, I feel like I am important to Michael and I am having an impact on his life. More importantly is he is having an impact on mine.

Traveling the World

We have been working on our multicultural programs at our SACC sites and this week the Eastbury program went to France. We learned our names, phrases, common items we use in the program, and even some daily dialogue all in French. We made French flags, Mardi Gras masks, and even Crepes, a French treat. We also played freeze dance to french music and did “Heads shoulders, knees, and toes” in French. Check out our French Crepes.

Helping kids grow.

Dear Ms. Pitt,

I am the mother of two girls who are currently in the Summer Exploration program in Glastonbury. I am writing to complement their counselor, Mallory. My daughters, Alex and Tea C., were enrolled for the first week of August and they enjoyed it so much that I enrolled them for this last week as well. They were very comfortable with Mallory and looked forward to seeing her each day and participating in the daily events.

On the first day of camp, July 30th, when I dropped my girls off and met Mallory I mentioned to her that they would be starting kindergarten in the Fall and would be placed in separate classes. They are twins and this will be something new for them, an idea they were not embracing. I was sure that all the parents had one thing or another to tell Mallory about their kid(s), but I thought it wouldn’t hurt.

Mallory has truly made an effort in both sessions to help Alex and Tea become comfortable being separated and she updates me each time I pick them up. Alex and Tea have grown increasingly accepting of the idea of being in different classes and I fully credit Mallory for her diligence, caring, and kindness.

I find that Mallory well represents the YMCA and the values/goals it aspires to. Mallory is a wonderful mentor and care giver, and I am so pleased to be writing this email to you.

Kind regards,

Andrea S.

Mother of Alexandra and Tea C.

Knowing when the Fit May Not be the Right Fit

We recently had a child in our summer camp program who had special needs. Upon signing up his grandfather told us of his of his special needs. Our camp director told the grandfather we could absolutely take him and we would work with him. He attended our program and it was discovered that he really needed a 1:1 to attend to his needs daily. It became clear that we would not be able to meet this childs needs in our program. I had to speak with the grandfather and explain to him that our program was not the right fit for his grandson. I also made sure that I gave the grandfather some options to look into for his grandson. As difficult as it is sometime to make these desicions, it is important to remember to be compassionate and empathetic. The grandparents thanked us for allowing him to be in our program for the brief period of time and for giving them the information to seek another program. We always want to try to take every child into our program and give it a chance. It is a very difficult desicion to turn someone away, but sometimes it is the best desicion.

Corntastic Cause Driven Leaders

Got Corn?

Our Camp Director overheard the Reverend Richard Allen speaking about how he need 10 volunteers for a project and she mentioned she had 12 teen camp kids that could help out. Last Friday, our Teen Camp went to a local farm in East Hartford to pick corn for Food Share. It was a very hot day and they were only going to be able to pick corn for an hour.  The kids picked one whole truckload of corn and enough corn to fill another truck. The kids had so much fun picking the corn they did not want to leave. They talked about what the corn was for and the kids said they wanted to come back and do it again. It was a great way for our teens to learn the importance of giving back.