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
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.
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.
The Wilson-Gray YMCA hosted its 3rd annual Spring Bling Zumbathon. This annual event offered members an opportunity to make a contribution to the Wilson-Gray’s annual fundraising campaign. The excitement and energy was felt throughout the building as over 150 members danced to fun and inspiring aerobic routines filled with Latin and Caribbean rhythms. To help support this healthy-living event, Wilson-Grays Healthy Living teen initiative program provided healthy snacks to all. Both members and staff enjoyed the day. The day ended on a high note with members leaving looking forward to next year’s event.
Lizandra Benitez is an eighth grade student at Catherine M. McGee Middle School where her favorite subject is science. As a resident of Hartford, she is highly involved with several programs at the Wilson – Gray YMCA. In addition to being on the girls’ basketball and track and field teams at the YMCA, she is involved in numerous academic and character building programs. She is a member of Youth Achievers and a teen incentive program called Y T.I.P. She is also involved in Girls Creating a Future. In her free time she enjoys listening to music and writing.
Since her favorite school subject is science, she was encouraged to participate in the Connecticut Invention Convention. The CIC is an award winning educational organization designed to develop, encourage, and enhance critical thinking skills through invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. The program is open to K-8 student’s state-wide.
For her invention, Track-U-Dazzle, she partnered with Google Maps, Kay Jewelers and Pandora to make a groundbreaking jewelry line. The jewelry helps find missing people and objects using GPS technology.
Along with her jewelry line, she created a Track-U-Dazzle app. Her app will work to locate missing people and objects as long as there is a chip attached to the person or object. Essentially Track-U-Dazzle aids law enforcement in tracking missing or exploited individuals.
Lizandra’s hardwork paid off as she was the recipient of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) award for her invention. We are so proud of her accomplishments!
Bingo paint was a huge success and a fun activity to do with our students here at the YMCA program at Hartford Pre-K Magnet. This was my first time experience Bingo Paint, so my smile was bigger than Aedan’s in this picture. We used aquatic animal shaped paper, like fish, seahorses and turtles and they used the bingo paint and dabbed to their liking! It was an awesome outcome and their animals came out amazing!
Written by Child Care Aide, Chamyra Walton
One of the fun and educational games we play during the YMCA after-care program at Hartford PreK Magnet School is “Hot Potato”. As you can see on the kids faces they enjoy this game very much. In this picture Madison passing the ball to Chayse. We use a very soft ball and we sing hot potato and when we say “STOP” whoever the ball ends up with is out of the game until we start over. I personally like playing this game with this age group because it teaches them sharing, how to follow the rules and appropriate reactions when they do end up getting out because it isn’t anyone’s fault, just timing. Funny thing is when they get the ball they don’t want to give it up again!
Written by Chamyra, Child Care Aide
What kid doesn’t love a rainbow? What’s more fun to make your own! This was The YMCA at the Hartford Pre-K Magnet Schools way of helping our student memorize the colors of the rainbow. Our staff drew the colors of the rainbow with crayons on construction paper before we handed them out, then we passed out colored shapes so that they can match the color of the shapes and paste them onto the rainbow. It’s getting closer and closer to the end of the year and our preschoolers will have to take their test to past onto kindergarten is this is a easy and fun way to help them learn!!
Written By: Chamyra Walton – Child Care Aide