YMCA ADDS THREE TEEN-FOCUSED PROGRAMS

The Y Teen Achievers program, one of the new programs at the Red Bank location, helps prepare local high school students for college and employment, and includes a spring college tour, pictured above. Below, Bryanna Reevey of Fair Haven, right, with Jo Ann Rountree.

By DANIELLE TEPPER

Red Bank’s Community YMCA has a full slate of programs to kick off 2013, including three that are completely new to the location: Y Leaders Club, Girls Circle, Y Teen Achievers. Registration is now open and ongoing for the following three programs:

Y Leaders Club: A national Y program that teaches kids in grades 6  to 9 to become role models and leaders by participating in volunteering and marketing.

They are taught to focus on developing positive life skills and leadership qualities. By encouraging each other to make positive impacts, the Y Leaders Club is a great way to learn communication, cooperation, and team-building skills and gain understanding of cultural diversity. The Y Leaders Club will meet on Saturdays from January 12 to February 23, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Girls Circle: This was brought about after a camping retreat that attracted 37 girls. It was then that Jo Ann Rountree, Director of Community Outreach, knew there was a need for seventh- and eighth-grade females to have a place where they could feel safe and open to asking questions.

“Young girls have so many issues,” say Rountree. “But this is a place where they can be themselves.” The program tackles hard-hitting subjects such as eating habits and bullying. Girls Circle will meet on Saturdays, from January 12 to February 23, from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Y Teen Achievers: This program began in 2006 and teaches kids in high school the value of everything from GPAs to SATs. It partners with Red Bank Regional High School and offers information on college prep such as financial aid, scholarships, essays, applications and more. The Y Teen Achievers is open to all high school students and will meet on Wednesdays from 6 to 7 p.m., running through June 5.

“We want people to know that the Y is so much more than a swim-and-gym,” said Y vice president Andrea Plaza. “We focus on nurturing development, teaching kids to make good choices. We empower them with their decision making and make them socially responsible.”

The programs have yielded success stories around the community, a recent one being that of Bryanna Reevey of Fair Haven, 2012 graduate of Rumson-Fair Haven High School and current Brookdale Community College freshman. The programs worked for her, she said, because “they helped me to gain confidence and courage, build self- esteem and empower me to accept and understand my inner strengths.”

She participated in Y Achievers for 5 years, Leaders Club for 2 years, Model UN and Youth and Government for 1 year.

Reevey said that her participation in the programs helped her overcome one of her foremost fears: “One of the biggest challenges I overcame was public speaking,” she said. “My skills were strengthened through a public speaking workshop that gave me the courage to speak before the Y board of directors.”

In the 2011-2012 school year, Reevey was recognized as Achiever of the Year, “simply because I never gave up and I never said I can’t,” she said. She is now employed at the YMCA as a program assistant.

Also being offered: Spanish Language for Pre-Schoolers, a new program offered for parents and their children ages 2 to 5. The parent and child will learn Spanish together through music, stories and other activities. It is an eight-week program scheduled on Mondays at 10:45 a.m.