Hundreds of at-risk children attending this year’s YMCA Summer Learning Academies

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KERNERSVILLE, N.C. -- More than 600 at-risk children from low-income families in Forsyth County are attending this year’s YMCA Summer Learning Academies.

"We get to do a lot of fun activities," said 10 year-old Kenneth King, who loves math and dreams big.  "I want to be a game designer."

The 5-6 week program helps keep children who come from low-income families from falling behind in school by working with certified teachers who not only help them with their education but inspire them to do more.

"If they can see beyond there circumstance or their challenges they can say, ‘I can make my life better,’" said Bonita Patton-Judge, who oversees the program at 9 different schools. "They are learning about honesty, they are learning about what it means to work as a team, to have dreams and what it means to think outside the box."

Some of the students come from homes where there is not a lot of food. The program provides breakfast, lunch, several snacks and food for the children to take home for themselves and siblings on the weekend thanks to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

"Our little people have so many things they are facing," said Patton Judge. "So when they are going to school or coming to us they don't won’t to have to think of those things, this is a way of escape for them."

For most of the kids, they are not able to attend camps or travel, so the academies include field trips and swimming lessons.

"Kids that are at-risk, stats show they could drown," said Erin Craver with the Kernersvile Family YMCA. "When they first start, they are afraid to come on the pool desk and by the time we are done you see that melt away and they are fish."

Parents are also required to attend a class once a week where they learn skills that include eating healthy and budgeting their money.

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