As the end of summer nears and a new school year begins, we reflect on what an amazing summer it was for YWCA Lancaster! Our highly successful and engaging summer enrichment activities ignited a passion for learning and exploration among its young students. These activities have not only bridged the gap from one school year to the next but also provided an avenue for students to discover new interests and cultivate their skills. Throughout the summer, YWCA Lancaster hosted our TechGYRLS Program, two Empowerment Days, and partnered with the Touchstone Foundation to host the Rise Above Youth Summit! Here are some of the highlights of our summer!
TechGYRLS is a hallmark program of YWCA Lancaster. We focus on empowering female-identifying students ages 9-14 to pursue STEM activities and careers. People of color are under-represented in high-paying jobs in the STEM fields. A lack of female-identifying folks in these fields means fewer role models, especially for young students still forming career choices. This year we offered two TechGYRLS camps, a Zoology Camp and a Tech & Robotics Camp.
Our young campers joined us for an exploration of circuits, and interior and exterior design, and they learned how robots work, and how to build animal habitats and an amusement machine! The TechGYRLS program builds not only engineering skills but also confidence and empowerment with students who share a similar interest. Our campers had an awesome time learning about each summer program and connecting with one another. With many field trips and local excursions, our campers walked away with new friends and a wealth of new tech knowledge. Our goal is to inspire our students and give them memories that will last a lifetime. We are already excited for next summer! Stay tuned this spring for info on how your young one can become a TechGYRL!
This summer, we were thrilled to bring back our hit Empowerment Day! Last year we had such a great time and engaged with so many awesome students that we decided to have TWO Empowerment Days this year! Our Empowerment Day camp is a free day-long experience for female-identifying children ages 9-14. The day focused on self-love and empowerment by building connections with others and exploring one’s own experiences. Throughout each Empowerment Day, students participated in morning yoga, arts and crafts, and discussions on topics such as gender roles, self-esteem, body image, and drug and alcohol prevention. They even had a local field trip each day in downtown Lancaster City!
We truly had a blast this summer with our amazing kiddos. Connecting as a group was a special experience each camp and our thought-provoking discussions and conversations shed light on important issues in the lives of children and we all had an opportunity to learn from one another. Our camper went home with many prizes, books, and a new understanding of self-worth and value. For more info on our Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center and its many programs click here!
Rise Above Youth Summit
This summer we collaborated with the Touchstone Foundation and hosted the Rise Above Youth Summit! Throughout the summer intensive, students were challenged and encouraged to understand different perspectives in relation to mental health. They also participated in creative experiences conducted by participants of our 2023 Black Artist Waystation!
Each week, our students met on Tuesdays and Thursdays at YWCA Lancaster for the summer intensive. Each day began with a Racial Equity Institute presentation led by trainers from our Center for Racial and Gender Equity! Topics covered included implicit bias, stereotypes, mental health, and its relation to race, and much more. Students were led through the book ‘This Book is Anti-Racist’, by Tiffany Jewell. This text served as the foundation for the themes of the Racial Equity Institute presentations.
Our participants also visited local organizations throughout the city including The Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition & The Loop, the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, and the Ware Center. We also participated in workshops led by the four Black Artist Waystation participants, Keisha Finnie, Thunda Khatt, Dominic Jordan, and Kearasten Jordan. Our students learned about spoken word, creative writing, and poetry, and were guided through art and writing activities.
We were thrilled to be part of such an amazing summer experience and thank the Touchstone Foundation, the REI facilitators, and the student participants. To learn more about the many programs hosted by the Touchstone Foundation click here!
YWCA Lancaster remains committed to providing a well-rounded education that extends beyond the classroom, and the success of these summer enrichment activities is a testament to that commitment. As students return to school, the enthusiasm for learning ignited during the summer will continue to flourish throughout the school year. This was made possible by the dedication of experienced teachers and instructors who went above and beyond to ensure that each student had a rewarding and memorable summer break! We thank them and the many families that became part of the YWCA Lancaster family this summer. We hope you have an amazing school year!
Want to join our team and help shape the next generation of changemakers in Lancaster? We have full and part-time staff and director level positions available!