Hartford YMCA aims to keep kids off the streets, offering scholarships for summer camps

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It is a beautiful day out, it is hot summer is here schools are letting out and camps are ramping up. Here at the YMCA camp, they got a huge shot in the arm from one single donor who is giving $100,000 in scholarships so that students can go free to the camp.

“I really grew up in the YMCA system in terms of going to camps since I was a little kid and it was something that was a huge part of my childhood,” James Martin, financial planner.

Martin says the YMCA played a big role and keeping him on the right path, and now he is in charge is a charitable fund that is giving $100,000 to the YMCA for summer camp scholarships.

“I hope the kids enjoy it as much as I did, it’s a great foundation, and I hope the kids that get to go here, come back and pay it forward,” said Martin.

The YMCA is much more than just sports camps, they teach kids life skills.

“We have a tech center, where students can learn to be artistic and creative we can tie that into music and dance and storytelling, we also talk about social media and how they can present themselves,” said Harold Sparrow, CEO for the YMCA.

And at a time when juvenile crime is on the rise, they are transforming a neighborhood, one youth at a time.

“This YMCA was built to be the shining light and beacon for this community. Before this was here, it was an empty lot and known as the hub and drug central of the drug deals in Hartford, that is no longer,” said Sparrow.

The Willis Gray YMCA Is located in the north and neighborhood next to downtown Hartford. It’s on Albany Avenue, and you can see candles from a vigil from someone injured over here. This is the neighborhood they are trying to take care of, they are trying to make a difference in a young life.

With the scholarship dollars and the kids that are going to camp here, they hope they will be able to turn it around.

“This is the heart of the city there are good things that happen in this neighborhood and bad things that happen in this neighborhood as well, but our intent is to picture every kid as a possibility and a dreamer and hope that someone’s Dream comes true and that they have a place to belong,” said Sparrow.

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