LIVINGSTON, NJ — In addition to the return of many of Youth Appreciation Week’s (YAW) annual favorites, like the Town-Wide Campout, the Diversity Festival and building blocks workshops, the West Essex YMCA will present a free new program for youth and teens entitled the “EMPOWER Program.”

The program launches on May 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Livingston Senior & Community Center with inspirational guest speaker Jen Croneberger, a renowned author and a sports psychologist. Her discussion, entitled “The Five C’s of a Champion,” will focus on living courageously and confidently, in school, sports and in life in general.

Corporations, schools, organizations and teams from all over the country, according to her biography, seek after Croneberger, who is traveling from her home in Pennsylvania to visit with Livingston’s youth. According to Cheryl Francione, Associate Executive Director at the Y, Croneberger's talk is intended to encourage youth and adults alike to “show up as your best you every day.”

Sign Up for E-News

“So many teens & tweens struggle with the pressures of school, sports and friendships,” said Francione. “This program is designed to help them manage those stresses, and focus on feeling happy. It’s important that they always believe in themselves, and feel confident about their ability to succeed.”

ON behalf of the Y, Francione thanked the Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee (LMAC), whose recent grant enabled the Y to expand this new youth-and teen-development program. 

The program continues with a special Teen Night at the Y on Friday, May 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. as part of YAW. Teens are invited to participate in a demonstration of the Y's new "EMPOWER" kickboxing class, which is designed to help local youth develop confidence in themselves by drawing out their inner strength.

"EMPOWER is designed for young boys and girls hoping to become stronger both mentally and physically while also having fun," said YMCA Health Enhancement Director Barbara Santola. "We are hoping that teens of all genders and abilities will take advantage of this opportunity to try out our new program."

Other activities will also include swimming, teen talks, free snacks and more. 

Teen talk breakout sessions during the event will focus on helping kids tap into their personal skills and gain the confidence that they need to succeed in life.

“Youth Appreciation Week is the perfect time for our Livingston kids to start getting 'EMPOWERED,'” said Francione.

Pre-registration is required for EMPOWER Teen Night. Contact Family and Enrichment Director Lisa Sheafer for more information at

For more information about Jen Croneberger, click HERE.