PHOTO GALLERY | Adams Youth Center 2013 family fun day at The Range in North Adams


ADAMS - Youth Center Inc. in Adams is all about outdoor fun, youth activities and teen leadership. All of which was on display on Sunday as the center and its community sponsors held an annual family fun day and miniature golf tournament at The Range in North Adams.

In addition to golf and batting cage activities, teen volunteers and camp counselors organized and supervised activities like a bounce house, face painting, candy art and more, while adults manned a barbecue lunch tent.

Melanie Richard and Rob Matte of Adams -- whose four children, ages 5 to 21, are involved with the center -- brought their 14-year-old Appaloosa horse Stella to the golf course to give families horseback rides in the back field.

Zack Lillie, 9, and his mother, Paula Cadrett of Adams both took turns taking a ride with Stella, and said they liked being able to connect with the center.

"It's really nice," Cadrett said.

"Our kids benefit from the youth center, so we felt like giving back," said Richard. She's also painting a chair for Youth Center Inc.'s upcoming benefit chair auction, which will be held on Oct. 20.

Proceeds from the family fun day and auction all go to Youth Center Inc. programs. Director Sonia DiSanti said programs have expanded this year to include this summer's Cool Critters Camp, a Thursday night teen group, indoor youth tennis instruction and matches, and a new preschool basketball program, which will begin this fall at C.T. Plunkett Elementary School.

Kuwanna Bobbitt, 17, became involved with Youth Center Inc. during the middle of this past school year. She said there are now about 10 members in a teen group that meets each Thursday, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. This year, they've also gone bowling, held fundraisers to take a trip to New York City, and, on Monday, they went tubing down the Deerfield River.

"It's helpful to have this, I just wish more teens were involved and knew about this," Bobbitt said.

She, like other teens there, got involved in the center as kids and have come back as volunteers to help with programs.

The center also gave young adults work opportunities this summer to help with the new Cool Critters Camp. Jessica Sweeney, 24, is one of those people who took advantage of the summer job offering.

"I work with the little ones, which is a lot more work than I thought it would be, but the kids are so, so wonderful," Sweeney said.

Sonia DiSanti's sons, Mike, 16, and Bailey, 13, also help with the program. Despite their mom being the director, they said they like helping out the younger kids.

"Each week has a different theme. We do music, science, sports and art," Mike DiSanti said.

Mike and Bailey said now that the kids know them, the youngsters stop and say hi to them when they're out and about in the community.

Sonia DiSanti said Youth Center Inc. has 215 members from Adams, Cheshire and Savoy, but serves about 1,200 kids and teens year-round through seasonal programs and special events.