Youth Development at the Regional YMCA of Western CT
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The National Y magazine, Discovery YMCA, highlighted the Ys Youth Development program in a past edition. The color cover photo and five-page story featured the program’s multi-faceted elements including ESCAPE to the Arts, Teen Leaders/Future Leaders, and Great Hollow Wilderness School. Following are some text and photo excerpts from the article, "Evolution of a Youth Program", by Steve Hockensmith.
Positive Youth Development at the Regional YMCA of Western CT
The "…program called Positive Youth Development has become a classic example of positive program development. Born as a lecture-based adolescent pregnancy program, it has mutated over the last few years into a comprehensive youth outreach effort that includes a new teen center, a Teen Leaders club, a busy fine arts studio, and a 1,000 acre site for adventure-based youth programs."

In the words of YMCA Senior Vice President Debbie McCuin-Channing, "We realized pretty quickly that the kids needed something far more intense than we’d ever imagined. Pregnancy was an issue, but so was youth violence and drug use and school failure…we found out that these kids had no script to fall back on to tell them what’s appropriate and what’s not…they were sponges who needed more and more."

"After some major tinkering, the program was reshaped into the Teen Leaders Club. Targeting at-risk kids between the ages of 10 and 17, it focuses on life skills, homework assistance, community service, and self respect. During the school year, there are after-school club activities every day until about 7 p.m. Tutoring, discussions of teen issues, guest speakers, and, of course, free time in the gym and pool are a regular part of the club routine. (Over the summer, activities are scheduled from 1 to 7 p.m. each day.)"

Positive Youth Development at the Regional YMCA of Western CT
The second part of the youth program is the Great Hollow Wilderness School. "Located on 1,000 acres of land not far from the Y’s Greenknoll Branch, Great Hollow specializes in adventure-based leadership development programs for low-income youth."
"Buckle up" at the Great Hollow ropes course Building trust among team members


The final day of a 10 day experience for 15 middle school kids - a 6 mile run through the woods topped off by a graduation barbecue and story-telling.  Nothing but proud kids and prouder parents!
They made it!  Proud parents and Y staff congratulate the kids A weary, but very proud graduate and his mom
Leading the pack and wearing a big smile! Staff and campers share stories about the last 10 days

(Discovery article continues)  "ESCAPE to the Arts…provides fine arts classes and opportunities to kids in low-income communities. They offer courses in pottery, drawing, painting, and sculpture, frequently working closely with the Teen Center and its staff."

A young artist next to her creation A joint creative effort for 2 ESCAPE to the Arts participants and their teacher
"McCuin-Channing hopes that kids lured in by one program…will get hooked into another, and maybe all three. Each additional hook increases the odds that the kids will stay in school and out of trouble. ‘The programs accomplish a lot more together than they do when they’re separated,’ she said. ‘You’re always going to get a real mix of diverse kids. If you’re going to keep them coming back, you’d better have a mix of diverse programs.’ "
The Regional YMCA is a community service organization dedicated to building strong kids, strong families, and strong communities through the development of spirit, mind and body. We strive to serve all, regardless of financial or physical need.
Presented with permission from:
YMCA of the USA
Mr. Dan Maier
Association Development & Communications
101 North Wacker Drive
Chicago, Illinois  60606
We build strong kids, strong families, strong communities.
The Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut services 19 towns in 2 states.
In Connecticut
- Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield,
New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Warren,
and Washington.
And in New York - Southeast, Carmel, Patterson, and Kent,
Cold Spring, Mahopac, Philipstown, and Village of Brewster

Copyright 1999-2006

Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut
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Brookfield Commons, Unit B21
Brookfield, CT  06804
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