YMCA Essence Legacy Performing Arts Program Expands, Aims to Keep Kids Safe

Wilmington, DE – The YMCA Essence Legacy Performing Arts program aims to provide a safe outlet to area kids. Located at the Walnut Street YMCA in Wilmington, Essence Legacy has expanded from a Percussion & Drill team, to incorporate Step, Majorette, Color Guard and Cheerleading. A program that started in 2016 with just 16 participants of drummers and steppers, has grown to 90 performers enrolled within the five groups. The performers range from 8 to 21 years old.

“This program is very important because it’s an outlet,” said Gau-Wan Smith, Teen Program Director of the Walnut St. YMCA. “A lot of our students may deal with trauma, and different tough situations at home. Here, they know they are safe and a part of something positive. They are having fun, learning and building opportunities.”

According to the Wilmington Police Department’s CompStat Report, as of 9/11/22, Juvenile Shooting Incidents have increased 36% from 2021, and 200% over the past four years.

“I believe that Essence Legacy Performing Arts is saving lives,” said Kenneth Frazier, School Age Coordinator of the Walnut St. YMCA. “Most of the kids we serve live in Downtown Wilmington. We see the newscasts and the violence that is going on in the city. Having kids involved in after school programming is beneficial because some of our students live in rough neighborhoods. Coming here gives them a safe space where they can be productive.”

YMCA Essence Legacy Performing Arts has won multiple National Championships, as recently as the summer of 2022. In addition to competitions at various locations on the east coast, YMCA Essence Legacy performs throughout the year in the Wilmington area.

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