Lead to Positive Behaviors
At The Y, we believe in nurturing the potential of every child and teen by helping youth to cultivate the values, skills, and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and achievement. It is because of this belief and shared focus on improving the community’s well-being that we have developed the YMCA Achievement Center at Hudson Memorial School, a youth development initiative designed to aid children in grades 6th, 7th and 8th establish skills to develop positive lifelong habits.
In 2016, we launched the YMCA Achievement Center (YAC) at Hudson Memorial School. Y leadership and the Hudson School District developed the concept of a YAC to address needs of 6th-8th grade students through providing social and emotional learning and creating an overall culture of positivity within a middle school setting.
The YMCA Achievement Center is grounded in Positive Psychology and Positive Youth Development and as such focuses on the important role that positive experiences, relationships, and environments have on the development of youth. The YMCA provides the middle school with a full-time staff person to lead the program in their own classroom environment, which means hundreds of students are able benefit from the program throughout the school year. The YAC is an innovative way to address the needs of middle-schoolers through creating an environment that focuses on helping students to experience positive emotions, teaching character values, and identifying student strengths. Each day, students in the program will participate in activities designed to help build self-esteem, enhance positive character traits, and foster a sense of belonging and support
Research shows that when students experience positive emotions and are able to utilize their strengths, they develop important social and psychological assets to draw upon, which can be effective in impacting long-term academic outcomes. Rivier University’s Department of Education is providing formal, independent program evaluation to assess short-term measures of happiness, self-esteem and grit as well as long-term changes in student attendance, behavior infractions, and academic performance before and after participation in the YAC program.
Results from the first round of data collection for the program are very promising, demonstrating that most students experienced a boost in their self-esteem (64%), happiness (56%), and grit (49%).
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