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Jersey Shore Brick House program turns lives around

Brick House

Dyllan is one of the stand-out students at the Brick House, Jersey Shore YMCA. This is not because he is the perfect student or model participant; it is because he was the exact opposite.

“Dyllan had a rough start when he first began to attend Brick House three years ago,” said Laura McMahon, executive director. “He often butted heads on the basketball court with other participants, which resulted in poor choices of words or actions. In generally, Dyllan was opposed to anything that even remotely resembled rules or authority.”

An invaluable asset to the Jersey Shore community, the Brick House program provides a safe, supervised environment for local youth and teens – generally 12 through 18 years old – to attend during the school year each day following dismissal until 6 p.m. The program offers a positive, nurturing environment that provides various opportunities for physical activity, participation in community events and volunteerism, and educational components, and ultimately steers youth away from potentially harmful or dangerous situations that commonly occur during the vulnerable hours following the end of the school day. Over the course of the year, Laura said the program saw about 171 local youth and teens participate in the program.

At the beginning of the past year, in combination with family issues, Dyllan made some ‘no-so-smart’ choices while wandering the streets with his friends after school. Unfortunately, he received mandatory community service from the court system as his punishment. Due to his attendance to the Brick House program, Dyllan was able to complete his community service during program hours and work with the staff at the Y to learn many valuable life lessons.

“Recently, nearly all of the staff at the YMCA has recognized a noticeable change in Dyllan’s behavior and attitude,” Laura said. “He is often one of the first to arrive each day and is the last to leave. Without prompting, he will ask if there is anything he can do to help and has stepped up when it comes to mentoring his peers on appropriate behavior.”

Cori Amrom, program director, believes the Brick House program helped Dyllan’s negative behaviors because he is in an environment with uniform, consistent expectations and follow-through by staff to correct the issues, as well as helping him understand why certain actions and behaviors are not acceptable.

“With his tumultuous home life at the time, one of the things that Dyllan was lacking was consistency in his actions and choices,” Cori said. “The mentors in the Brick House program helped to provide this to him and they were able to guide him on how to act appropriately in certain situations.”

Dyllan will be the first to tell you his attitude has changed.

“I used to come just to play basketball, but lately I come just because I’m happy when I’m here,” he said. “I got in trouble when I didn’t come here after school. Since I’m here, I can’t get in trouble with the cops. Sometimes the people who work here have to tell me to be good, but that’s better than the cops doing it. Eventually, I learned what I can and can’t do and I get in trouble less.

Dyllan’s community service included cleaning at the Brick House.

“It was frustrating because I did it at the same time that Brick House was going on and I saw everyone having fun but I had to clean,” Dyllan said. “I was happy to be able to play again. I knew how hard it was to keep things looking nice, so I tell people to stop making messes now.”

“At one time or another we’ve all heard young people complain that ’there is nothing to do,’” said LCUW executive director Scott N. Lowery. “The Jersey Shore YMCA Brick House program provides a wonderful antidote to that malaise. Investing in our youth helps eliminate idle time, which often leads to trouble. The Brick House program does a lot more than fill time as it prepares youth and teens for success in life through activities that build self-esteem and teach important life skills.”

Lycoming County United Way is proud to provide $24,000 to the Jersey Shore branch River Valley Regional YMCA’s Brick House program. But we cannot do it without you. Help us continue support by making a contribution today. Call Lycoming County United Way at 323-9448 or visit www.development.lcuw.org.

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