New program helps put youth back on the right road

Photo courtesy of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow

The southeast Queens community is coming together to help put their youth back on the right road – the Y Road.

The Jamaica YMCA, in partnership with Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT), is launching a new program, the Y Roads Initiative, geared towards giving youth ages 16 to 24 the little push they may need to get their lives going in a productive direction. It is designed to support roughly 300 young people who are neither employed nor in school and gear them towards a fruitful life.

“We want to build a plan for each student,” said Clare Dwyer, the Y Roads Center Director, “and figure out how we can get them to be successful.”

OBT staff and the YMCA have collaborated over the last several months to create a comprehensive one-stop service facility, building off of the Y’s strengths in youth work, counseling service and leadership development.

Y Roads will additionally provide job training and a GED model within a simulated corporate work environment.

Emergency housing units are available to participants, as well as mental health and lifestyle counseling, and recreational programming and childcare services.

“We really feel like the all-encompassing pieces are coming together,” said Dwyer. “Now we can offer all of the pieces, and that’s really what makes Y Roads special.”

The program will be held at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning on Jamaica Avenue. OBT has raised half a million dollars, which puts it 2/3 of the way towards its funding goal, and is enough to open the doors to the public.

“We think we have something that works,” said Peers. “This is really exciting. I think Jamaica has a really good advantage. This is where we want to be, we’re ready to roll.”



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