Alexa had a tough start to the school year. Two of her best friends moved and she was not looking forward to the school year without them. By October, she was skipping class regularly and was feeling depressed and alone. Her mom had witnessed a huge change in Alexa and was starting to get worried. She encouraged Alexa to go to the Youth Development Program (YLD) being held at the YMCA in her neighbourhood. Skeptical at first, Alexa agreed to go if she could bring a friend along. “I was so nervous going in,” said Alexa. She was convinced that she would try it out once and then never go back. 

After that first day at YLD “something weird happened,” reflects Alexa. “I really enjoyed it, I couldn’t believe it!” Alexa decided to go back the next week with or without her friend and after those first few sessions she was hooked. “I never miss YLD unless I am deathly ill.” Even though most of the other participants had been going to for years, they made Alexa feel welcome and like part of the family. From the games and conversations to the caring supervisors and supportive peers, Alexa absorbs all she can from each session and leaves each week being inspired to love herself and to live her best life. “I’ve changed a lot since I joined,” observes Alexa. “I’m much more vocal and my friends have noticed that I’m more energetic and I smile more.” Alexa’s mom notices a big difference as well claiming “she acts like she loves her life again”. And she does! “I tell everyone how great the Y is and that I love it so much. I truly believe that it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It’s the highlight of my week!” 

Next week is Alexa’s 16th birthday and she is thrilled that it falls on a YLD Day. “I can’t think of a better place to spend my birthday.