Stamina. We have heard much about this word and character trait during the election season. Who has it? Who does not? Dictionaries define stamina as “the energy and strength for continuing to do something over a long period of time…the resistance to hardship.” As St. Stephen’s Youth Programs (SSYP) launches our seventeenth year of the B-READY Afterschool Program, it seems appropriate to think about the endurance and vitality it takes to keep a youth program running for nearly 250 young people for the 180+ days B-READY is in session. In our programs, I see two groups of people who display the quality of stamina.
Staff Members and Volunteers...
The staff members and volunteers of B-READY are amazing. Every day, they show up ready to love the young people in all of their exuberance, joy, and complexity. Lead Counselors help youth tie their shoes, complete their math homework, stay safe on the monkey bars, and become a great team player with their group. Thanks to ongoing training and development, Leads are advancing their skills as positive youth workers and talented out-of-school-time educators. They also coach our teen Counselors-in-Training who support the growth of younger students, develop professional skills needed to get and keep a job, and learn more about what it means to be a engaged civic leader. Senior program staff members develop high-quality academic programs that advance the literacy and math abilities of elementary schoolers, the leadership and life skills of middle schoolers, and the artistic creativity of all ages. Adult staff are helping forty-three seniors develop realistic and fiscally responsible plans for their post-high school lives. Scores of volunteers are part of mentoring pairs, building relationships with high school sophomores and juniors and helping seventy-five alumni of SSYP stay enrolled and succeed in college. College students, close to eighty of them, from Boston College, Lasell College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, and Wellesley College come weekly to play, teach, learn, and build connections with everyone at SSYP. All of this takes a ton of energy, a great ability to overcome obstacles, and the “power of sustained endurance.” The staff and volunteers of B-READY have stamina.
The Young People!
The young people of B-READY are equally remarkable. Every day they arrive from seven hours of school, still with smiles, hugs, and laughter. They hang up their backpacks, eat a healthy meal, and reconnect with friends before retrieving their homework and getting to work. Short essays are written, Spanish skills are practiced, pre-algebra worksheets are finished. Then it is on to other enrichment activities: practicing mindfulness skills and yoga, learning computer programming using Scratch, engaging in cool science experiments (and learning about liquids and solids in the process), and planning and carrying out a super-fun Halloween party for the whole neighborhood. The young people are learning and teaching other the skills of patience, kindness, and good communication that make for a healthy community. The young people of B-READY have grit and stamina.
As early voters wait in lines to mark ballots, let us celebrate the energy, strength, and resilience of our B-READY youth and staff. Stamina lives at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs!
--Liz Steinhauser, Senior Director of Youth Programs