"Working for Detroit's Youth" -  "Believing, Achieving, and Succeeding"

Parents Laud Safe, and Nurturing Environment at WCYC

Whether itís attending their childís soccer game or volunteering as a field trip chaperone, parents have many ways of demonstrating their rock-solid support for the Woodbridge Community Youth Center.

Parents and other family care-givers like the comprehensive nature of the program, its nurturing atmosphere, educational emphasis and recreational opportunities. They also value the safe environment and faith-based orientation of the curriculum.

They consider the center to be a community asset that addresses critical needs unmet before it opened in June 2007.

Here are perspectives from three Woodbridge Community Youth Center families:

Teanna Jones: "This center is a Godsend for our community."

For Teanna Jones, the positive impact of the Woodbridge Community Youth Center begins with its founders, Michael and Margaret Wilson.

She and her granddaughter, Markquitta Reed, 10, a regular participant at the center, are huge fans of the Wilsons.

"Markquitta is crazy about Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Wilson," said Ms. Jones. "If she canít go to the center, she gets very upset. There is something about the Wilsons - they and my granddaughter have just clicked. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that she has trust and confidence in them."

A fifth grader at neighboring Edmonson Elementary School, Markquitta has been going to the center since the doors opened.

Sheís especially fond of the recreational program, including soccer and basketball. "Whatever they ask her to be in, she gets involved and loves it," said Ms. Jones. "She has become a real team player and overachiever."

Ms. Jones, who volunteers at the center, called it "a Godsend" for the Woodbridge area because it provides a much-needed school enrichment program and serves as a safe haven for young people.

"This gives Markquitta something to do after school, itís a safe place for her to be and keeps her off the streets and out of trouble," she said. "This is the only youth center around here and itís become an important part of our community."

Bobby Johnson: "For the sake of the kids, I hope theyíre here forever."

Bobby Johnson has a lot more peace of mind these days, knowing that the Woodbridge Community Youth Center is there for her granddaughters.

She likes the idea that a comprehensive after-school program is available for them only a half block from home.

RayZhana Johnson, 10, a fifth grader, and Destiny Brock, 6, a first grader, have participated in the program since it began. Both attend Edmonson Elementary School next door.

"Iím so glad the center is here for them," said Ms. Johnson. "This is a blessing - we needed something positive in this area for the kids. They need someplace to go after they get out of school where they can learn, play sports and have extra activities. Thatís a lot better than just hanging out."

She is relieved to know that her granddaughters receive academic support, especially homework assistance, as well as enrichment experiences.

RayZhana and Destiny also enrolled in the centerís "Skills for Life" summer day camp, a six-week program that covers a wide range of classes and activities designed to provide meaningful educational, recreational and social benefits.

Ms. Johnson couldnít be happier about having a neighbor like the Woodbridge Community Youth Center. "For the sake of the kids, I hope theyíre here forever," she said.

Monique Griffin-Gonzales: "My sons started listening to each other instead of arguing."

Monique Griffin-Gonzalesí prayer was answered when she searched for a quality summer day camp for her two sons.

She believes divine intervention steered her to the Woodbridge Community Youth Center.

"I prayed and the Lord told me to come here," recalled Ms. Griffin-Gonzales.

Fifth-grader Joseph Gonzales, 9, and his sixth-grade brother Miguel Gonzales, 11, enrolled in the "Skills for Life" day camp last summer. They attend Gesu Elementary School in Detroit.

About half-way through the six-week session, Ms. Griffin-Gonzales noticed a significant change in her sonsí behavior toward each other.

"My boys started listening to each other instead of arguing and being at each otherís throats much of the time," she said. "I could see the change begin after the third week of camp. They helped each other out, shared things a lot more and even helped around the house together."

Ms. Griffin-Gonzales, an Oak Park resident, attributes the behavior change directly to the camping experience. "Expectations for the kids were made clear, a certain discipline was followed and there was an emphasis on getting along and sharing. That had a real impact on Joseph and Miguel."

She also was impressed with the positive reinforcement provided throughout the camp, especially the numerous awards given to children for their achievements. "It was a wonderful way to build their self esteem," she said, "and certainly contributed to a summer of growing and learning for my sons."

Children also benefited from new and varied experiences made possible by field trips, such as attending a NASCAR Sprint Cup stock car race at Michigan International Speedway and experiencing a Camping trip to Black Lake near Mackinaw Island.

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