WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Area Y Achievers Program will host its annual kick-off orientation for new and returning students on Oct. 15 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the main YMCA facility at 220 Clark Street.
“We want the children to come to the program to benefit and do well,” said Janice Carthens, senior director of member services. “Parents are always invited.”
The Westfield Area Y Achievers Program offers students age 13-17 in grades 9-12 college preparation and job readiness as well as multiple community service and networking opportunities. Originally focused on helping minority children in particular and called the Black Achievers Program, the name was changed last year to be more inclusive of all young people in the surrounding area.
The first program of its kind was started at the YMCA in Harlem in 1968. The program made its way to the Westfield Area Y in 1997 and was started by Natalie Tyler, Laverne Moore and Al West, whose son was in the original group of Achievers.
One of the main goals of the Achievers Program is college acceptance and readiness for all of its members. In the past the program members also had professional etiquette classes, fed the homeless at the Plainfield YMCA during the Holiday Season, volunteered at children’s hospitals and collected Christmas presents for disadvantaged children, among other activities.
“We had Wells Fargo come do a financial literacy program last year and the kids also took part in an Autism Walk,” said Carthens.
The Achievers Program also includes recreational activities and a free YMCA youth membership. The group also collaborates with the Achievers Program in Summit for a historical black colleges tour that includes Howard, Morgan and Hampton Universities.
The kick-off orientation will offer students and their families light refreshments, a Learn to Earn presentation and information session and a college class “cheat sheet."
“Everyone gets a cheat sheet paper that tells them what classes to take in high school while they are still free,” said Carthens.
Registration for the program will be available during the course of the evening.