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Building more than muscles

Bethlehem YMCA and High School admin team up for after school program

If you're a Bethlehem Central High School student and you're sent to see Assistant Principal Scott Landry, you should probably start worrying.

But not if you're in the I Can program. Landry, with the help of the Bethlehem YMCA, has been meeting with a small group of students after school, four days a week for about seven weeks. Last week, 10 of the 17 students who started the course completed it, and were rewarded with free one-year memberships to the Y.

Landry said he was pleased to see such great enthusiasm for the program, especially since these students aren't receiving school credit.

This is more of a partnership with the school instead of a school program, he said.

As one might imagine, a lot of the I Can program focuses on physical fitness. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the students met in an aerobics studio at the YMCA branch and Landry led them through a intense, full-body workout. At a recent session, Bethlehem YMCA Executive Director Derek Martin sat in on a class.

"I took the class a couple of weeks ago and I was hurting," he said. "It's been absolutely fantastic having the kids come through the door because it has literally changed their lives."

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The idea behind I Can is not just to improve students' self confidence through physical fitness, but to also foster connections with other students and improve language skills. Many of the students invited to the program are English as a second language students, hailing from countries like Yemen, Egypt, Ukraine and India, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays the group would convene to do some running and then work on reading and language comprehension skills as a group. Some shared stories about their native lands.

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