When a local youth or teen complains "there's nothing to do," he or she should check out the Fun All Day, or FAD, program at the YMCA.
Fourteen-year old Felicia of Williamsport is glad she did.
"Being at the YMCA's FAD has given me something to do after school and in the summertime," she said. "At 'the program,' as we all call it, students that participate learn respect, responsibility and reason. Daily discussions lead us to use our brains as well as common sense."
"Before I found out about the program, I felt like I was lost," said 16-year old Hector of Williamsport. "My grades were not good and I didn't really have many friends."
FAD is for youth and teens ages 9 to 16. Hours are 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday during the school year and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the summer.
"We are happy to run this program because it gives youth and teens something fun as well as constructive to do in a positive environment," said program coordinator Christina Boughton. "We are providing a caring, nurturing, supervised program to give each child an opportunity to grow in spirit, mind and body."
"We play games and do some sort of physical activity every day, like volleyball, racquetball, swimming, roller skating or basketball," Felicia said. "We can also choose from activities like art, ping-pong and chess."
"FAD has helped me mature, and the counselors have helped me expand my educational and social skills," Hector said. "I can get help with my homework when I need it, and they helped me learn to express my opinions in an appropriate way. The staff made me feel welcome and has helped me become a better person. They teach us about respect, responsibility, caring and honesty."
"Another cool thing about the program is getting to meet new people, hearing their stories and sharing mine," Felicia added. "Eventually, as you get to know somebody better, you become friends and even stay in touch with each other."
Fun All Day originally was called "sCOOL of Fun" but the YMCA staff learned youth didn't care for the name.
To give them a sense of ownership, the YMCA allowed participants to rename the program. Fun All Day was their choice.
"With funding from Lycoming County United Way (LCUW) for this program, we are able to underwrite some of the expenses incurred to run it," Boughton said. "The youth who participate do not pay. We are proud of the program and the influence it has on local youth, keeping them off the street.
"This isn't just an after-school club where they just hang out. It is fun and educational at the same time," she said. "The YMCA knows that to work effectively with this age group, we need to balance fun activities, incentives and education through direct coaching and teachable moments."
Through its annual funds distribution process determined by community volunteers, United Way allocated $15,000 to the FAD program at the YMCA.
"We are happy to be able to fund this program at the YMCA because it makes a genuine difference in the lives of not only the youth and teens who participate, but also their families, their classrooms, their neighborhoods and the community overall," said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director.
"By providing youth and teens with a positive and productive environment, they are much more likely to stay in school, stay out of trouble, become good citizens as adults and contribute back to society," he added.
For more information on Fun All Day, call the YMCA at 323-7134, ext. 41 or visit www.williamsportymca.org.
For more information about Lycoming County United Way or to support the campaign that funds programs like this, visit www.lcuw.org or call 323-9448.