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Westfield Area Y Kicks Off Its 16th Year of Achievers Program

Patricia Harris

Thursday, October 3, 2013 • 6:14pm

WESTFIELD, NJ — Operating on the belief that it takes a village to raise a child, the Westfield Area Y continues to offer its Achievers Program for high school students who aspire to college and rewarding careers.

The program offers a series of workshops, activities and keynote speakers designed to help students achieve their goals. They can learn about finances, receive college prep tutoring and essay assistance and participate in community service projects.

Students ages 13 to 17 and their parents are invited to learn more about the program at a kick-off session on Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Main Y facility, 220 Clark Street in Westfield. Refreshments will be served.

“The whole thing is about believing you can accomplish anything,” said Janice Carthens, senior director - member services/quality management for the Y.

This year marks the 16th year the local Y has offered the program, which began at the Harlem YMCA in 1968. At that time, black adolescent boys were placed as interns with doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

Over the years, the program been broadened to include girls and all races. Participants are encouraged to become community leaders, and financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

“The focus is still education and developing self-esteem and confidence,” Carthens said.

Three of the four students who completed the program last year are now college freshmen and plan to come back to speak to their fellow students, according to Carthens.

Among the graduates is Zayna Allen, now a freshman at Delaware State University, who is being recognized this week as the Westfield Y’s Youth of the Year. A graduate of Union County Technical School for the Performing Arts, she worked diligently during her high school career to raise funds for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, organizing pizza sales and a benefit performance.

Zayna was in the Achievers Program for six years and was a lifeguard and swim instructor at the Westfield Area Y.

“She’s a good egg,” said Carthens.

For more information, contact Program Coordinator Nadya Lawrence at 908-456-6409 or yblack.achievers@yahoo.com or nlawrence@westfieldym.org or contact Carthens at 908-233-2700 x 227 or jcarthens@westfieldynj.org.

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