The Y: A Community Resource and Mutual Appreciation

My Y Story: Jamila-Ashanti Scales


Jamila-Ashanti Scales started working at the Y when she was 16-years-old. “My mom wanted my brother and I to have skills that would benefit us: First Aid training, CPR, AED training, lifeguard training.  After finishing her lifeguard training, she joined the staff and never looked back.

She’s now studying International Affairs and Political Science, with minors in Peace and Conflict Studies and Biblical Studies at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. “I am a Christian and I have always wanted to attend a Christian college. It was especially important for me to maintain my faith in college, in my developmental years. Being around those of the same or similar faith will keep me grounded in my beliefs, my morals, and my duty as a Christian and as a child of God.”

“I interned in the Office of the Mayor for his Chief of Staff when I was 16, a junior in high school. I think that it gave me a visual of what the realm of politics looks like: the work, time and energy that goes into running the city of Nashua, to make sure it works well and efficiently. It was a really good experience. This contributed to the reason why I went into international affairs and political science in college,” she shared.

“Being a lifeguard at the Y has been pretty rewarding. I have also lifeguarded and taught swim lessons since being in college. This has given me an outlet and allowed me to know where my strengths and weaknesses are. It’s helped me hone in on my skills and learn from others. Teaching is not for everybody, but I love the teaching part! It’s my favorite! Teaching someone how to swim is completely rewarding. I can see their progress each time I teach. It’s never stagnant. The instructor and swimmer are always growing together. It’s a learning experience for everybody. Every time you teach, you learn more about yourself and your craft.”

At the Y, Jamila-Ashanti teaches swim lessons for all levels of ability, in group and individual settings. “I think my favorite classes to teach are level 5 and 6 classes, and adult classes. I teach adults much older than myself. It’s a humbling experience. They humble themselves by taking the initiative to learn. They express being nervous, scared of water, etc… Yet, despite all that – they come in to learn. I appreciate them even more. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in their learning and development. The growth and development of adult swimmers is not only based on what the instructor teaches them, but also based on their desire to learn, and how much they want to put into the class. They have signed up and committed their time to this, they value and appreciate the class a lot. It holds more weight with them.”

I love teaching children, also. I learn more patience and yield to the children’s needs. With children I want to be an example to them at all times. And part of being an example to them is making sure they are heard and listened to. Showing patience is important. Accommodating them and yielding to each one of their personalities is part of the lesson. Each student’s development matters to me.”

If Jamila-Ashanti isn’t working at the Y, she’s often working out at the Y. “I think I live here!,” she joked. “I work-out a lot. I was a competitive swimmer for 12 years on the Black Dolphin Aquatic Team (BDAT) and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua (BGCN) swim team.”

She recently started as an Assistant Swim Coach for the YMCA STORM Swim Team in August of 2022. Jamila-Ashanti added that already having a relationship with many members of the Y helped her transition into coaching. “The familiarity that Erin (Head Swim Coach Erin Jeffers) and I had translated well into us working together. In general I know most of the coaches, so stepping into that role wasn’t a hard transition. Being a coach comes with more responsibility, duty, and dedication. I’m the youngest coach now, at age 19, turning 20 soon! I work with the Lightning, Thunder and (high school) Seniors and National groups.

“If you’re looking for a place that you can be familiar with, definitely join the Y. It’s a place for everybody. This place offers many opportunities for all. It’s easy to go to the Y. It’s easy to find a new hobby, as the Y gives you space to do so. The Y is a great community resource. I think the YMCA, just like the Boys & Girls Club, serves as a community safe haven, a safe place for the community to retreat to. That’s what it’s been for me. When I personally think of a place to be, a place where people appreciate me and I appreciate them, I think of the Y. It’s why I’m here so much, even when I’m not working. I couldn’t ask for a better community or staff. ” she said.


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