A LET Initiative: Youth Wellness & Sports

by Kafui Kemeh

Looking back to earlier last month on March 7th, 2023, the Leaders for An Equitable Tomorrow (LET) program led our first public event! 

The event was entitled “Youth Wellness & Sports” and our goal was to gather people, especially youth from the Woburn and Winchester communities together for two and half hours of engaging dialogue and an enriching mindfulness session. 

Starting off the event at 3PM, we met Sharon Marrama. She led the participants through a typical meditation, a guided meditation, and a couple of breathing exercises. We learned how to calm ourselves down by practicing a breathing technique that involved a 4-count inhale and 8-count exhale– which is meant to encourage full body relaxation that can only be achieved when you exhale longer. Sharon gave us so many helpful mindfulness tips and even showed us the benefits of essential oils by spraying us with them!

Our first speaker, James Morton, was the President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston for 8 years and is now retired. He talked about his upbringing in Wisconsin and the challenges that surfaced during his youth. He explained how participating in sports helped him get into college and expressed how athletics has always been an anchor for him. To this day he prioritizes wellness by being incredibly active and utilizes daily exercise as a self-care practice! 

Our next two speakers work at the same therapy practice, Therapists for Athletes, Unlimited Resilience. Jesse Schram, who was a former Division 1 athlete in soccer at Lehigh University, was our first speaker from Unlimited Resilience. He spoke about his own struggles with mental health as a D1 athlete and how seeing a therapist helped him overcome and learn to manage negative self-talk and anxiety when it was time to hit the field. His goals as a therapist in practice is to work with athletes to meet their personal goals, whether it be on or off the field.

Last, but certainly not least, we met Ariana DiPreta. She is also a licensed therapist at Unlimited Resilience, and has a competitive background in rowing and soccer. Although her athletic career had to come to an end due to injuries, she was able to receive the mental health help she needed to continue. In her current practice, she empowers athletes in various settings from high school to the collegiate level and helps them uncover their strengths through mental skills training and practicing mindset shifts. 

We were so lucky to have these 3 incredible and inspiring individuals talk to our audience about their experiences and answer all questions about athletics and wellness. The event could not have been possible without the support of SCI, the Network for Social Justice, the First Congregational Church in Winchester, and the LET interns. We again thank Sharon, James, Jesse, and Ariana for bringing their valuable insight to our event!

For more information about the YMCA of Greater Boston, click here.

For more information about Therapists for Athletes, Unlimited Resilience, click here.

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