Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Day of Play!

Boy what an exciting day the Fall P.S. 187 Day Of Play Gagalicious was at The Y. It may have been wet and grey out, but we were surely dry and all smiles. The P.S. 187 Day of Play gave counselors of Camp Twelve Trails the opportunity to come together for the first time since last summer. It was a great opportunity to reunite with all of our “WOW” Y families and their favorite counselors. It was great seeing all of those familiar faces and sharing yet another day together, creating lasting memories and inviting families to join us as Trail Blazers on the path to the brand new Camp Twelve Trails where campers and counselors alike will have the opportunity to play, grow, create, discover and explore. 

This year's Day of Play was of epic proportions, with not just one but two gaga pits! Camp Twelve Trails staff members were on hand to facilitate the games and we had many gaga gladiators enter the octagon. No matter how many times kids got out, they kept coming back from more. Our staff even got in the mix and but they were no match for the speedy skills and hard hitting power of the kids. There were many champions on this day and we even had some games where parents braved the gaga octagon, but the winner on this day was gaga: the sport that the kids just couldn't get enough of. 

In addition to gaga, Camp Twelve Trails' resident basketball expert and former NBA star Felipe Lopez was on hand running basketball clinics. Kids and parents alike worked on their dribbling skills, court movement, layups and jump shots, all in an effort to become better at the game, or simply to get a little more exercise. Nonetheless, having Felipe there this year was a super addition to the program. There was also a Yoga clinic for those looking for some peace of mind.    

Thank you to all of our parents who made this year's event so successful. We can't wait to see you this summer at Camp Twelve Trails, and next year at Day of Play!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

CSS Rubgy Team Off To A Good Start

Mott Haven Education Campus- Bronx, NY On a sunny and humid day in the Bronx, our Y's SONYC Columbia Secondary School Pride Middle School boys and girls rugby teams competed and took away some hardware. Running their new lead, jet-lead and jockey offense, they scorched numerous defenses en route to a banner day!
The boys team competed in the Plate Final and took home the Championship Trophy, which will join the others in the trophy case. Every single player from starters to impact subs came into the game, contributed everything they have in order to come away with the championship.
Our girls played extremely well all day long and were put into the semifinals match before bowing out to another well deserving team. Our lady lions went toe to toe with every team they faced and have a lot of positives to build upon going forward. 

Man/Women  of the Match Awards:
Boys: Brenton Collins & Gus Muamba 
Girls: Samantha McGann & Sunshine Robinson

Donizetti Gonzalez, director of Y's SONYC program at Columbia Secondary School 

Monday, May 11, 2015

"My Experience" by Daniel Romero

My Experience
by Daniel Romero

   My name is Daniel A. Romero and my experience in the Y teen leadership program has been amazing ever since the beginning. The program is supposed to be a group of young teenagers, like myself, who try to help solve worldwide problems, or simply help places that are in need. From helping hospitals to entertaining residents at a nursing home, I have never felt this good. It is a shame that we are only able to do this once a week.

   Our program teacher Lidia Martinez (Teen Leadership specialist) is an amazing person to work with and was so nice to me on the first day we met. I remember I didn't want to go when it all started, but after the first day I was very interested in what we had talked about that had to do with some problems around the world. 

   After a couple of classes we held a blood drive at the Y so that we can donate the blood to the hospitals who had a shortage of blood. They had a shortage because many blood donors didn't go to the hospital since Hurricane Irene had hit Manhattan. This is an example of what we do. 

   Throughout the class these past 2 years there were so many topics we discussed and what we can do to help like war, racism, women rights, LGBT rights, and police brutality. We all know that we can't stop these types of things, but we can sure try. The people I work with are the best and we always work to figure out what to do with any social problem. I hope this program continues going on for a while. I would also like to thank Lidia and Abraham (after school teen program director) because those two are one of kind.

-Daniel Romero, Y Teen Leadership Program

How baseball helped Nepal

We had a mother-load of fun this Sunday at the Dyckman Fields on May 10 for the Hudson Cliffs Baseball League.  Despite the holiday, we maintained strong attendance. Special thanks to all of our mom's who made it out to the diamond!

But let's rewind to May 3rd, and the first ever HCBL charity bake sale.  Leo and Reuben, a couple kind-hearted young baseballers, took it upon themselves to organize the event to benefit victims of the recent earthquake in Nepal. Thanks to them, and all of the HCBL's help and generosity, we raised a whopping $623 for the Nepal Earthquake Fund
, a project of GlobalGiving.org
. Great work!

Leo and Reuben displayed impressive qualities that we try to instill in all of our little players both on and off the field.  
Jon Zeftel
After School Program Director and Youth Sports Director
The YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sweetness For A Brighter Day

Our Teen Leadership/Community Service group spent time this past week learning more about the senior population. According to a recent study, the teens learned that 43% of seniors reported feeling lonely on a regular basis. Based on this information, the teen group thought of a way to make the life of some local senior citizens a little brighter and sweeter with a very special project.

The Y's Wien House is a 99-unit residential facility for low income seniors. In an effort to help  the residents of the Wien House to cope with loneliness, the Teen Leadership/Community Service group decided to spend an evening baking cookies for them. Each cookie was place in a bag with special notes with positive messages like “ You Are Very Special”, " Be Happy", and "You're So Sweet."

-Abraham Palma, Teen Program Director

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Friendly Competition

On Thursday January 8th, the Y had our first inter-agency SONYC basketball game between our Y Teen Program basketball team and Harbor Heights Middle School basketball team.  This was designed to bring both teams together in friendly competition.
The Harbor Heights Middle School team is part of the DYCD Nike League. The students were required to try out in order to be on the team, and will train to play against other DYCD Nike League teams across the city starting March 1st. On the other hand, the Y Teen basketball team is strictly recreational, made up of local teens that come every week to develop their skills under the guidance of Y staff and coaches.
 The most important thing that impressed me was the respect and the sportsmanship before and after the game. It was a close game, but at the end our Y Teen team won the game by three points.
This was a good experience for our Y teens that have not had the opportunity to play against any other team beside ourselves, especially a competitive team. We hope to continue hosting opportunities of this kind to help our youth increase their self-esteem and to elevate the spirit of the game.

-Abraham Palma, Y Teen Program Director

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hidden Talents

It's not often that an organization can boast having an international Jewish singing star in their midst, but having 2 is unheard of!

Both Ari Lewis (Marketing Director) and Mordy Prus (social work intern) are current members of the Jewish A Cappella group The Maccabeats. Ari works full time at the Y, and Mordy splits his time between the Y and rabbinical school at Yeshiva University. Mordy works in the Y Nursery classrooms to help children with special needs to be part of the inclusive program. He also works with a Holocaust survivor providing support and care at the Y. Both Ari and Mordy work as much as they can as Maccabeats on nights and weekends due to their full-time work and school obligations.

A Capella, Latin for "the choir", is a form of music without instruments. This type of music lends itself to more creativity and expression through the human voice. Music without instruments has been a part of Jewish culture for centuries. For example, many synagogues use a "chazan" to lead services with beautiful tunes and melodies. Some synagogues today even use full choirs, a custom which started as early as the 16th century. A full choir at services dates back to the time of the Jewish holy temple. 

Ari and Mordy are both part of the original Maccabeats group founded in 2008 at Yeshiva University. A Cappella has been a staple of collegiate life for almost 100 years, with groups of boys and girls singing for their fellow students in archways and theaters all over campus. Groups of Jewish students jumped on the bandwagon and started forming groups of their own, which led to the creation of the Maccabeats.

The Maccabeats are unique as they are an all-male group. This is due to the religious restriction of Jewish males not being able to sing alongside females. It forces the group to get creative in producing a well-rounded sound. 

In 2010, The Maccabeats released a Chanukah video titled "Candlelight", a parody of the pop-hit "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. After receiving a million views in the first few days, the video quickly received national attention with radio play and TV interviews. This year, the video has just passed 10 million views. 

Since then, Ari and Mordy have been touring the country and the world with the group. The group has been to 39 states, and countries including England, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Canada, and more. Ari and Mordy both agree that juggling family, work, and Maccabeats can be tough at times, but agree that their love for music and support from their family make it all worth it. 

Ari (bottom center) and Mordy (top right) perform in the Maccabeats video "Miracle"