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“I don’t know what power they had on my son, but if they said tomorrow the sun will be purple, he’d believe it.”|
In his rookie year at YMCA summer day camp, Corbin Thompson learned to tackle his fears and come out a winner.
The first week was horrible. “He cried because kids picked on him and called him fat,” says his mother, Latisha. “He complained about having to walk to the swimming pool, saying walking should be outlawed!” Having tried many times to gingerly motivate her son and make him feel good about himself, she asked the camp counselors to give it a try.
“I was impressed,” she says. “He stopped complaining about the kids: he stopped complaining about walking.” The Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation led football drills with the kids and gave out souvenir T-shirts and posters. Corbin loves football, and this was one of the highlights of his summer.
His mom credits the entire camp experience for giving her son a confidence he never had before. “My son never played tennis. Now he loves tennis. He was afraid to go to Six Flags, crying, ‘I’m gonna die!’ Everything was ‘I’m gonna die.’ The counselors told him it would be fine and to try it. He had the most fun in his life with them.”
Since Corbin is an only child with no father around the house, Latisha was thrilled her son was exposed to so many positive, male role models. “Having a man tell a boy, ‘You could do this,’ really made a big difference.”
By the time day camp ended, Corbin was a social butterfly, lost 20 pounds, changed his eating habits, and changed his views of himself. If kids talk about him at school, it doesn’t bother him anymore. Latisha says, “He’ll tell me at home, ‘Kids called me fat, but it doesn’t bother me, because I feel good about myself.’” For the first time, Corbin can stand up in front of his church congregation and sing.
Arthur M. Blank Family Youth YMCA