Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kraft Y Brings Out the Best in Camper

This spring semester, a 4th grader named Joseph was referred to the Kraft Y after being expelled from another youth program in the community. Program Director Brian Skilton tells us how he and his staff worked together to bring out the best in Joseph.
After speaking with Joseph’s grandmother, I learned that his situation was a tough one. His home life wasn’t picture perfect, and he was also heavy and living a very unhealthy lifestyle.
When Joseph arrived at our early arrivals and after school programs, we learned that he had trouble interacting with others, didn’t handle change well, and struggled with quick transitions. Within his first two weeks, he had started a fight, yelled profanity at other children and counselors, and arrived at the point of having a conference with myself and his grandmother to discuss if the program was the right fit.
Following the Y mission and not giving up on him, the program staff and I decided to invest in Joseph and his family to let the Kraft Y try to make a change in his life. At our next staff meeting, we discussed how to best serve Joseph and let the great child inside of him find a way to come out for good! 

We decided to each take on a specific role:
  • I committed to being a strong male role model to teach him how to be a good leader as he grows older.
  • Taylor, the site coordinator, committed herself to guiding him through conversations about life, good character and friendship.
  • Kelsie, a huddle counselor, decided to use knowledge she had gained through classes in child nutrition and wellness to help him begin a healthier lifestyle and lose weight.
  • And Marc, a huddle counselor, promised to use skills he had gained through obtaining a teaching certification to help Joseph get back on track scholastically and improve his grades.
That next day, we all got to work!

After months of hard work by the staff and Joseph, things started to change. He began making friends. He started participating in games and activities. He began bringing healthier snacks and being more active. Most important, his attitude towards life and others changed for the better. We started seeing Joseph ask to help as a leader in the program. We saw him setting great examples with his behavior for other children in the program. We also saw a happy side of Joseph that didn’t come out before.
One day, his grandmother notified us that she would be sending a therapist to our after school program once a week to work with Joseph and help him continue to find ways to keep his life moving on the right track. By early May, we witnessed a huge breakthrough.
He and his therapist were sitting at a table by themselves in the cafeteria, and Taylor just so happened to overhear their conversation.
“How are things going, Joseph?” asked the therapist.
“Oh, they’re going a lot better!” replied Joseph.
“Oh really,” said the therapist, “and why do you think that is?”
“Well, it’s definitely because of the YMCA. They help me stay active, and that’s gotta be a good thing! I’ve made more friends, and I like to play in all of the fun games. And the last time I went to my doctor, he told me I’ve lost 10 pounds. ”
Taylor began to feel a sense of pride and happiness at the sound of this news, and as she looked at Joseph and his therapist, they could do nothing but talk with smiles on their faces.
Since then, Joseph has continued to stay active, lose weight, and be an invested camper before and after school. His grades and behavior in his classroom have improved dramatically, and it’s been more than four months since he has been sent to the principal’s office.
Who knows where Joseph may be without the Y, but thanks to the dedication of the staff and his willingness to try, Joseph is on a path to success!

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