Caroline, Caleb, and Josh L.

Lakewood Family YMCA

After moving from Kenya to the United States, Caroline and her sons, Caleb and Joshua, didn’t have any family or close friends nearby. The boys had a difficult time making friends in school and were often made fun of because of their accents. Disconnected from a community, their host family recommended they join the Lakewood Family YMCA to give Caleb and Joshua a place to be social and exercise.

Staff at the Y connected Caleb and Joshua to 678 Nite, where they immediately felt accepted and able to be themselves.

“The boys really look forward to it,” says Caroline. “It became a constant in their life. Staff looked out for them and gave them a sense of belonging. They learned their difference was not something to be embarrassed about, but something to be proud of.”

In addition to Late Nite, the boys discovered other activities at the Y they enjoyed. Josh loves to play basketball and Caleb loves to swim and even joined the swim team. Seeing her children thrive motivated Caroline to take charge of her own health and wellness, so she started meeting with a health coach and signed up for weight training classes.

“[The Y has] really helped my boys socialize and build their confidence,” Caroline says. “It’s helped us feel like we’re part of a community and it’s made healthy living part of our family discussion."

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