Youth Emergency Service (YES) continues to benefit from a passionate and committed member of their staff, David Chaney, Sr. David, a Community Outreach Worker at YES, is also a board member of the Columbia North YMCA. Through this relationship, and with the support and commitment of Bertram L. Lawrence, Group Vice President, Freedom Valley YMCA, YES became a site for Y Without Walls. Y without Walls offers programming outside of the Y for youth who are at risk. The Y recognizes the significance of engaging youth in activities that can build skills that will help with decision making and focus on health.

For the past few weeks youth at YES have been learning about the value of focus and discipline through boxing, skills that can serve them throughout their lives. While they study the techniques of the sport they discuss when to use self defense and why it’s important. “My favorite part about the program is how different it is for them” said Nafis Heyward, the Y Without Walls Boxing trainer. “I like working with youth, you can see when they’re excited about a sport and that’s when I can tell they’re learning.”

boxing 2

(Heyward wearing red sparring mitts training at YES)

Decision making and health? Absolutely. One of the young men participating in the boxing said, “I am learning to strengthen my left side with the work out. I am right handed so I am working on my weak side. I am also learning how to choose when to use these moves. I feel stronger already”

boxing photo 1

The partnership will continue throughout the year and encompass many of the offerings that are available only at the YMCA. “There isn’t a big difference between teaching here [at YES] compared to the facility. A benefit of this program though is that the youth feel more comfortable. You bring the action to them. It’s not so much about where the program is done, it’s more about what you make it” said Nafis. Each activity will run for a few months before a new sport is introduced. The youth are currently learning boxing, with dancing, basketball, and soccer coming next.

Thanks to David for his advocacy, YES is a partner with Y Without Walls.