CLAY Connections brings inner city and suburban middle school youth together to participate in outdoor activities, adventure
and enrichment. The program strives to break down barriers and prejudices between youth from different backgrounds and economic classes by cultivating relationships through shared experiences.
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CLAY Connections was created by the Clay Soper Memorial Fund, in honor of Clay Soper, an individual who valued diversity, equity, and inclusion. CLAY Connections aims to bridge the gap between suburban and inner city youth by fostering relationships, sparking conversation, and encouraging kids to step out of their comfort zone. This unique program strives to break down barriers and prejudices between youth from different backgrounds and economic classes by building friendships through shared experiences. Creating an awareness and dispelling stereotypes between cultures and backgrounds is the core of this program.
HOW IS THE PROGRAM STRUCTURED?
The Clay Soper Memorial Fund has partnered with Youth Enrichment Services (YES) a sports adventure youth development nonprofit located in Boston, to create CLAY Connections. CLAY Connections is a four week, after school (Sping/Fall) outdoor adventures program for 7th grade middle school students. Each week the students will work together on team building and participate in sports based activities from rock climbing to cross country skiing. Through these events they build relationships and gain an appreciation of their differences while recognizing their shared similarities. Each weekly activity is structured around a different theme: Adventure, Trust, Kindness, and Passion — core values that Clay's believed in deeply.
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE AND ARE THERE COSTS?
Ten 7th grade students from a suburban middle school and ten 7th graders from an urban middle school comprise each program. Communities are selected based on logistical proximity to one another. A simple application for participation is required for all students in participating schools. Any school interested in participating should submit inquiry form found at top of page.
After a short hiatus due to COVID 19, the CLAY Connections program will resume in Fall 2021. We will be accepting students from both suburban and urban middle schools to participate. Stay tuned for more info about our 2021 CLAY Connections program!
"Richard Williams, the founder of Youth Enrichment Services (YES) believed in the idea that humans helping humans is a powerful thing that can change lives for the better. I couldn't agree more with him and through my time at YES my belief in humanity has risen."
- Clay Soper, 2014
A little background on Clay...
This very special program was established in memory of Clay Soper who served as a junior volunteer with Youth Enrichment Services (YES) throughout his high school years. Clay’s volunteering experience was much more to Clay than community service; YES provided Clay with an opportunity to grow as a person and his love of connecting and appreciating people from different back- grounds was recognized. Clay learned early on that people are more similar than different, and if given the opportunity, their interactions can result in lifelong learning experiences and friendships. Clay's appreciation of differences and love for learning about people's back- grounds grew during his time with YES. We hope with CLAY Connections to expand Clay’s legacy of acceptance, kindness, and understanding of differences. Bringing people together was Clay's passion. Creating an awareness of different cultures among young people was something Clay believed in deeply. We are extremely proud of this program and look forward to its continued growth.