Many of the youth who participate in our programs are recent arrivals in the United States, experience residential mobility where they may transfer from one county school system to another; have experienced trauma or witnessed violence at home or in the community. The need for connection with others is felt by all of us in today’s transient society. When teens feel lonely and isolated, efforts to cope can lead to drug involvement, gang involvement, pregnancy and destructive interpersonal relationships.
YMCA Youth & Family Services (YFS) has over 15 programming sites, all strategically located, within various communities across Montgomery County, Maryland. YFS operates programs in the most challenged neighborhoods in terms of poverty, crime, truancy/school drop-out rates, and linguistically isolated families. Because the YMCA provides a safe place after school for the children and youth, our community centers and our intervention services are effective alternatives to gang involvement and other destructive behaviors.
Both adult and youth participants in programs are asked to identify and recruit others who could benefit from YMCA-YFS services and to provide feedback on the programs in which they participated. This feedback ensures the relevance of those programs to the community’s needs and gets youth and families involved in the development and delivery of programs and services.