At each CYC site, our kids dove into learning new skills that they can carry with them throughout their lives. Among other topics, kids learned new forms of exercise, new cooking methods, and gardening skills.
Chef Gina Bates taught the kids new and innovative ways to cook meals. Devin Swift-Bailey, youth worker at CYC-Rebecca K. Crown Youth Center, said the kids, who mostly learned quick, nutritious meals they can make at home independently, truly enjoyed the club.
“The kids liked the culinary club because it was very engaging,” said Devin.
A new and special youth-driven club that emerged at CYC-Fellowship House was Spa Club, where youth learned about how to bring spa experiences into their own home.
The kids learned how to create their own face masks (using just cinnamon, honey, and baking soda!), how to paint nails, and more.
Dushunda said that giving youth voice and choice helps them stay more engaged. While activities like this might just seem fun, it gives them a better understanding of how certain jobs are carried out and opens their minds to different hobbies or career possibilities.
“It makes them well-rounded, and also pushes them to take a holistic approach with taking care of themselves,” Dushunda said. “It helps them with their life skills for when they leave us. We want them to have that book knowledge, but also be able to take care of themselves so they can survive.”
Clemon Clay of 3C Fitness led non-contact martial arts classes for the children. The youth learned basic martial arts exercises, did warm ups, jogging, and calisthenic exercises. They then learned proper form when doing martial arts.
Mr. Clay said that these activities teach kids not only how to properly exercise, but it teaches them focus.
“You have to stabilize and focus,” he said. “That translates into your life. The whole system is giving kids something to do and stay focused on different things.”
At CYC-Epstein, After School Matters partnered with the Center to give teens a project for the summer. The teens called themselves the Peace Makers, which is separate from CYC’s Peace Makers program that runs during the school year. The teens met to discuss issues in their community, such as police brutality, surveyed their neighbors, and decided to make Peace bags to pass out during a Playstreets event. The bags included fidget spinners to release anxiety and homemade stress balls to work out frustrations. Marcus, 15, said he wants to see more peace in his own community.
“We wanted to teach people different ways to find peace,” said Marcus. “You can’t have everything the way you want, you need to work with other people.”