The Camp Curtin YMCA is alive with the sounds of youth and teens enjoying activities together, learning, and growing. A basketball bounces, sneakers squeak, and cheers ring out as the day moves into evening. A dynamic community center, the Camp Curtin YMCA is also host to multiple YMCA mentoring groups for youth and teens, most recently launched being Boys LEAD and Girls AIM.
Recently, we caught up with Ny’seir, a Boys LEAD participant who told us a bit more about his experience in the program. “What I like about Boys LEAD is when we have fun and we play games together. We talk about manners and stuff. We talk about manners and respect.”
The Girls A.I.M. and Boys L.E.A.D. are group mentoring programs for youth ages 8-12. Girls A.I.M. helps young girls build a positive self-image and sets them on a path to reach their full potential in life. The Boys L.E.A.D. program helps young men and boys by providing them with social skills and activities which will foster leadership. Both programs focus on physical activity, balanced eating, and self-development. Along with social skills, the programs focus on bullying, and how to react when you see another student bullying. “My favorite part about Boys LEAD was when we talked about bullying,” Ny’seir said. “You don’t help them, and you don’t mess with them. It’s not nice to be a bully, and I learned when you see a bully, you tell a teacher.”
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. Grady, a mentor for the Boys LEAD program shared, “Bullying is heavy because it’s really prevalent in society right now. Everyone is going through different situations, so we’re just trying to help them get through anything, how to maneuver, and how to make the right decisions.” Bullying can affect everyone; those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying, or something else, is a concern.
Through programs at the Camp Curtin YMCA, kids can learn how to positively react to bullying situations and build each other up. According to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Impact Study, mentored youth were one-third less likely to have hit someone during the study timeframe and reported more positive interpersonal relationships with their peers. That’s what Grady provides each day for youth like Ny’seir. “Without the Camp Curtin YMCA, I feel like there would be a hole in the community, just an empty spot,” said Grady. “Uptown Harrisburg wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the Camp Curtin YMCA. A lot of kids might not have a place to go after school. They can play basketball, use the open gym, join a program. Our fees are very affordable and we just want everyone to come out and enjoy what we have to offer in our community. I’m glad to be a part of the Camp Curtin YMCA.”
As for Ny’seir, he’s just glad to be a part of the positive community at the Camp Curtin YMCA. “It feels like I’m at a nice place when I’m at the Y, cause I like to hang out with Mr. Grady very much.”
–Madeline Kelly, Digital Communications Coordinator