The YMCA of Greater Boston recently held an association wide essay contest, asking teens to tell us about their dreams, aspirations and how the Y is helping them reach their dreams.  We wanted to share the winning essay, a moving story by Kasandra Babtista, and let you know how you can contribute today to making dreams like Kasandra’s come true.

Kasandra Baptista

Age: 17 

Branch: Huntington YMCA

“I'll be fine, don't worry about me,” she says every time she has a rejection. My older Sister, Shajvanie Moses, is a miracle child who was not supposed to live past her fifth birthday.  She is my family’s bubble girl who has been in and out of the hospital her entire life due to surgeries and complications. Shajvanie has to take more than twenty pills a day and live in a sterile environment away from my family.

I remember going out in public as a child and noticing everyone whispering, pointing, and laughing at my family because my sister was different. She was born with spinal bifida. This caused Shajvanie to have kidney and bladder problems. Growing up, she used crutches to walk and had braces on her legs. It always bothered me when people looked, but it never bothered my sister. She would always say, “It's okay, just smile and look away.” I used to feel embarrassed, but as I grew older I embraced her upbeat and accepting attitude; she taught me to accept others for who they are. When she was fifteen, Shajvanie was enrolled in the Massachusetts Hospital School in order to receive the specialized care that she needs. Shortly after she was placed there, I started to feel lonely and felt like I did not have many people there for me until a friend introduced me to the Huntington YMCA, Teen Center.

The Huntington YMCA shortly became my second home. I started to come here every day after school to do my homework and hang out with my friends. The teens were all nice and made me feel welcomed. They soon became my “family” and the people I would go to when I needed something or just someone to talk too. The teen center’s director started a Ladies Achievement Academy for us girls to come together twice a month to talk about different topics on leadership and personal development. The LAA meetings helped shape friendships that would last a lifetime. I am a current youth employer at the Teen Center. I was hired because I am a great leader, creative and someone that people look up too. I really enjoy working here because it is a place for me to be myself.

The YMCA has helped me achieve my goals because it is a quiet place that I can do my homework. Also, there are a lot of people here that are waiting for me to succeed so they always make sure I am on top of things. The YMCA has inspired me to study psychology because I want to be able to give back to the kids what the YMCA was able to give me. With the YMCA as my inspiration, I will approach the next four years of college with an open mind and the willingness to learn more. I know it will be difficult to obtain my degree, but it will not be anything compared to what Shajvanie been through.

Dream Big: Make Dreams Reality

The YMCA of Greater Boston believes that all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve.  In Greater Boston, the Y provides nearly $2.1 million in direct scholarships for children and teen programs.

The Dream Big Party, being held on October 23, 2013, will celebrate the BIG hopes and dreams of the youth in our programs, and funds raised will help the over 35,000 youth who will take part in our quality programming next year.  Our goal is to raise over $500,000 to support our high quality programs for youth and teens.  Please join our fourteen, already committed, corporate sponsors in helping youth, like Kasandra, DREAM BIG and reach their goals.

Related Links

Dream Big Party

YMCA Teens

YMCA Giving