YMCA program offers free summer memberships to teens

Published 3:25 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2022

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The YMCA of South Hampton Roads is providing teens free memberships this summer through its Sponsor–a–Teen Program. With the help of three community partners – the individual donor, the Y and a match sponsor – the Sponsor–a–Teen Program is made possible. Donating $25 per month or $75 for the season will allow local teens to have a safe place to thrive, connect and grow this summer. “The Y believes this initiative is critical, and stresses the importance of the community coming together to support youth in building healthy habits, strong character values and achieving a sense of belonging,” stated a YMCA of South Hampton Roads press release.

For Nicole Tsetsilas, a regional health and wellness leader for the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, this program is personal: “Growing up, my brother, sister and I would go to the Suffolk Y together. My older brother to workout, my younger sister in before/after care and summer camp. We received a scholarship to help pay for our membership and spent hours every day at the Y, especially during the summer. It was our favorite place to be and my parents trusted we were safe, doing something positive.”

Tsetsilas further shared that the Y helped build who she is today and that through challenges it was a beacon for her to escape to connect with her peers, find caring adults and build her sense of self. She even started working at the Y when she was age eligible. She continued, “I hope every teen gets the opportunity to experience the Y like I did, it’s why the Sponsor–a–Teen Program is so important to me and to the kids in our communities.”

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For many Y staff, the Y has been there for them from a young age. Anthony Walters, president and CEO for the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, shared that his first interaction with the Y was through the back door – his family did not have a membership, but he heard from his friends how the Y was the perfect place for them to come and hangout and he wanted to be a part of that. Walters shared, “we want to welcome all teens to a place to feel safe, a place to involve and engage, a place to be healthy and build confidence, and we want them to walk in through our front door. This membership opportunity can give them just that – come to the Y, you are welcome here!”

This summer, teens at the Y can look forward to pick-up sports like basketball and volleyball, social activities, teen fitness classes and training, special pool hours just for teens, summer service projects and even job opportunities. Those interested in sponsoring a teen or enrolling a teen for the summer can visit the Y’s donation page at https://bit.ly/3Qj5RyJ to find out more and take action.