NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Hundreds of students in the Elm City are exercising their body and mind while school is out with New Haven’s LEAP Program.
LEAP, which stands for Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership, keeps kids busy during the summer.
Briana Gaines, LEAP site coordinator, explained how LEAP offers a high-energy start to the day to kick-start the mind.
“We just yell and scream and get that energy up early in the morning, get my news out for the week, we do energizers, shake the body out so the kids can wake up before they start their day,” Gaines said.
The program include reading, swimming, and a number of other activities.
“My kids have gardening and cooking, African drums, stuff like that,” Gaines said. “So its a variety of all the stuff that we do here.”
Parents may sign their kids up for this program in the summer to keep them busy and learning, but its the students experiencing all the programming and all it has to offer. They quickly realize there’s a great opportunity to grow here.
After joining several years ago, Ni’efa Williams said she’s a different person than when she started.
“It’s nice to see how you evolve,” Williams said. “You meet new people and change throughout the program.”
Williams now looks forward to mentoring others.
Tanner DeJesus learned to swim at LEAP, and while learning new skills is the goal, he’s found he’s now a part of a safe community.
“This is like a family,” DeJesus said. “Like a second home. If I’m having trouble, I can talk to Ryan. Like, it’s a family. I like everyone here.”