Teens from Youth Shelter of Westchester Build Confidence Through Swim Program at SUNY Purchase

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Brian Hansbury, director of SUNY Purchase’s Aquatics Program, spoke to Backyard Sports Cares about the school’s community swimming program, as well as his experience working with BYSC to offer swimming lessons to troubled teens from the Youth Shelter of Westchester.

WATCH our interview with Brian Hansbury, director, SUNY Purchase Aquatics Program

BYSC: Tell us a little bit about what you do here? Why were you so eager to get involved with Backyard Sports Cares and help out some of these deserving young men?

Brian Hansbury: I’m the Aquatics Director for SUNY Purchase College Athletics, as well as the Head Coach for men’s and women’s swimming. I heard about the Backyard Sports Cares program involving the Youth Shelter of Westchester, and when Danny asked me if I was interested in helping them out with a swim program, I said, you know what? Lets go. Lets get in and lets get these guys going. I felt I got more out of the first session than they did. They were enthusiastic and engaged. It’s a good feeling. They got a lot out of it, too. It’s really good to see them walk out of here feeling accomplished.

BYSC: This is our second time doing a six week session of swimming with teen residents from the Youth Shelter. The Youth Shelter Program of Westchester is an alternative to incarceration program for young men here in the county. It offers them a second chance at life and a big part of what we do involves getting them out of their comfort zone, whether that’s swimming, yoga or even camping, these new activities are a big part of how they learn and grow. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Brian Hansbury: The nice part about this program here today is, I get to see a familiar face from last year. This young man joined the program last year mid-session and he wasn’t the happiest one in the pool — definitely out of his comfort zone. But today I watched this young man with his shoulders back, his head up high, smiling, and he walked right up to me and said, “Brian, how are you?” I felt connected. There’s a connection. I see it. I said to him, you look accomplished. You’re happier, you’re better in your skin. You are the man you should be. He said, “You know, I really do feel that way.” That to me is better than anything in the world. To see this young man who has evolved, bettered himself and to see him out there today helping the other swimmers was truly gratifying.

That young man is going to go on to better things. I know he is. He’s improved through the program, which exposed him to new ways of living life and he’s taking this second chance seriously. This is a challenge for some of them. But it’s a challenge that will enable them to walk out of here feeling accomplished.

BYSC: Tell us a little bit about the opportunities here at SUNY Purchase for swimming and some of the different aquatics programs that you offer kids and adults. 

Brian Hansbury: SUNY Purchase offers American Red Cross based lessons for youths, as well as adults. Usually, groups are about four to five kids with an instructor. We typically have a secondary instructor, a swim aid in the water with them. There’s always a lot of coverage. There is support and it’s a feel-good program. Parents are welcome on the deck with siblings. A lot of times parents will have one kid in one class, and they get the other one changed and they’ll drop that child in the other class. The weekends are packed. It’s been great. We have a long history of great success with the program.

The best way to reach out to us is to call 914-251-5938 or email me at john.hansbury@purchase.edu. Either I or my assistant, Lorena Peraulto, will be happy to help. We’re very excited about our swim program here, and we’re excited about building it into something beyond basic swimming lessons. We are looking to add pre-competitive swimming, an adult program and we’re dabbling with a Master’s program, so stay tuned.

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Categories afterschool programs, basketball, At risk youth, under-served communitiesTags

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Categories At risk youth, under-served communities, GaGa programTags ,

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Categories Backyard Sports Cares, inclusive sports, At risk youth

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