After deciding to permanently close the youth center at the Wapakoneta YMCA, the fitness center is looking at other opportunities to reach local youth.
YMCA Director Josh Little said the previous youth development center was not being utilized, so they are looking into other opportunities to reach the “tween, teenage” age groups.
“One of the pillars of the YMCA and our focus is on youth development,” Little said. “We want to continue to serve that population.”
Another conference room will be opened up with many of the same features as the youth center — a television will be mounted on the wall with gaming systems available. Card games, board games, among other activities will be available in the room.
The only aspect of the youth center that will not carry over to the conference room is that a staff member will no longer be monitoring.
“We’re always listening to what our community needs and what our members desire,” Little said, “and we know that youth development — space for youth to go and have fun is an important aspect of our membership and our community.”
Little said there are many ways youth can stay engaged at the YMCA.
Starting at age 10, all youth are granted free access to the YMCA to play in the gymnasium, swim and participate in activities.
The previous youth center location was a part-time aerobics room, which Little said was not a benefit for the youth center. He said closing the center has opened up more opportunities to schedule youth-centered fitness programs.
Little said many times teenagers visit the YMCA looking for independent activities, so he hopes the new youth room and fitness classes fill that need. Youth classes are geared for ages 8-12.
Youth pilates is held every Monday and Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Youth zumba is held at 3:30 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday. Youth cycle and core is held every Tuesday and Thursday at 4 p.m.
“Even though we’re closing the physical space of the youth center and moving it, I think the Y has a pretty good selection of activities to keep teens and tweens engaged at little to no cost.”
Other youth-centered activities at the YMCA:
• The second Monday of the month, youth are invited to the YMCA for “game night,” which includes games such as Scatterball, Capture the Flag, among others. Members to the Y are free, and non-members are $2.
• Youth activity night will be held from 7-10 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25 for second through fourth graders. Activities include Wii games, swimming, arts and crafts, dodgeball and other gym games. Non-members pay $3.
• Little said the YMCA’s pick up dodgeball on Monday evenings has brought in nearly 50 teenagers each event.
“For that hour and a half that they’re in there, they’re constantly active, they’re moving, and it’s one of our most popular activities,” Little said.
• Teen Lock-in will be held on from 9 p.m. - 7 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the YMCA for fifth through eighth graders. The night will feature a DJ in the gymnasium, swimming from midnight to 3 a.m. and free pizza and soft drinks. Games and inflatables will be available in the early morning hours. The fee is $13.
Free transportation from the Wapakoneta Elementary and Middle Schools, along with Cridersville Elementary School to the YMCA is available after parents sign a permission slip.
“We’ve been focusing over the past year to offer more fitness classes to the youth population, and we will continue to take suggestions for classes and continue to analyze our schedule and offer as much as we can.”
Little said the YMCA is continuing the search for youth activities, and is currently looking into youth fencing with a fencing club out of Columbus and bowling with Astro Lanes in Wapakoneta.