Central Florida is fortunate to have many great youth organizations, but it’s only at the Y – as the crossroads of our community – that at-risk youth get to experience the other side of life.
Not long ago, one of these youth, Jason Towne, dropped out of school and was lost on the streets, until he found his way to the YMCA of Central Florida.
Thanks to a Y scholarship, Jason was able to play sports, get involved in programs, and mix with a different crowd – people from all walks of life who genuinely cared and mentored him.
“At other youth centers, I was only around kids that were just like me,” Jason said, “But being at the Y introduced me to business people, doctors, lawyers, and others who really inspired me. Several of them became mentors and helped turn my life around.”
With encouragement from his “Y family,” Jason earned his GED and then began working with other at-risk youth at Y. Realizing the power of education, he enrolled at Seminole State College, transferred to the University of Southern California and graduated magna cum laude.
Following graduation, Jason went on to publish the critically acclaimed book, Conversations with America's Best Teachers, became a nationally recognized speaker on education, and in 2011 he came full-circle, returning to the Y to help lead its new Youth Development initiatives.
“Whatever success I've had, I owe much of it to the Y," Jason said. “I don’t know any other place that could have given me the perspective, support and experiences to so completely change my life.”