Youth Development Programs Return with Renewed Focus this Fall at the YMCA

Group of Youth at State Capitol

As mental health struggles continue to plague youth in our community, the YMCA will bring back key teen and preteen programs with renewed focus. 

West Chester, PA – The YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW) will bring back key programs focused on teens and preteens this fall, helping young people to connect, engage and get involved in their communities. 

“We know that our youth are struggling, even if they’re unable to voice it. Adolescence is a challenging time in a person's life, and it is being compounded by the pandemic and subsequent increase in screen time and social media use and decrease in opportunities to engage with adults outside of the home or classroom,” says Erin McDonnell, board certified behavior analyst.  

Youth development is a key part of the YMCA mission and programs focus on developing underlying abilities such as resilience, self-awareness, resourcefulness and philanthropy while providing opportunities for mentorship, growth and connections.  

Programs returning this fall include Youth & Government, Earth Service Corp and the 7th Grade Initiative, as well as numerous career opportunities and programs such as Jr. Lifeguards. While these programs vary in their topics, they share a consistent goal of empowering young people to make a difference in their lives and in their communities.

“Now more than ever, we recognize the importance offering youth in our community a variety of opportunities to get involved, explore their interests and passions and build meaningful connections – all in a safe space,” says Denise Day, president and CEO. 

Programs Enrolling Now 

Youth & Government is an experiential civic engagement program where participants debate, discuss and draft legislation. The program culminates in a model conference where teens debate bills on the floor of the legislature.  

Earth Service Corps connects teens with the environment and through service projects, field trips, and outdoor adventures, students become strong, confident, and responsible environmental leaders. Studies show that spending time in nature, especially during the pandemic, has a proven positive impact on mental health.  

Free YMCA members are available for 7th and 8th graders through the 7th Grade Initiative. These teen members can enjoy our indoor gyms, wellness centers and more – providing a safe space to engage in activities and gather with friends. 

 YGBW also provides teens beginning at age 15 an opportunity to enter the workforce and start developing their professional skills through jobs such a lifeguards or child watch coordinators and volunteer opportunities at events and programs.  

To learn more about the teen and preteen programs offered at the YMCA of Greater Brandywine visit or stop by one of our locations throughout Chester County.  

Category: Press