Keep your healthy resolutions at the Mon Valley YMCA
The Mon Valley YMCA welcomes people of all ages to learn new skills, keep physically fit, stay connected to family and have fun.
Open seven days a week, the Carroll Township facility has an array of programs from water exercises for older adults to activities for toddlers and pre-school youngsters that are physically and mentally challenging.
In the planning stages for the 101 Taylor Run Road facility is an after-school program for kids to get help with homework and burn off some steam after classes.
YMCA program director Angel Gulick said parents will be able to drop their children off at the ‘Y' after school or, if they are enrolled in the Ringgold School District, they can arrive by bus.
“This is just getting off the ground,” Gulick said. “During this time, we can help them with their homework and have them do some physical activities.”
Gulick said starting dates and times for the new offering have not yet been finalized.
Two newer programs for 3- to 5-year-olds, Kinder Soccer and Kinder Gym, “are going over very well,” said Gulick.
Kinder Soccer teaches the fundamentals of soccer with emphasis on the “no-hands thing,” dribbling and passing.
“Kinder Gym is almost like gym class,” said Gulick. “It involves a different game each week, focusing on ball-handling skills, teamwork, taking turns and following directions while enhancing coordination and motor skills.”
The Kinder programs start at noon Mondays and Wednesdays.
New last year in the pre-kindergarten program, Zoo-phonics teaches phonemic awareness skills, the alphabet and how to read, spell and write to nursery-school-age kids. Phonemic patters, such as, bat, cat, sat, etc., are taught first rather than random word lists, according to the ‘Y' website. The program uses pictorial mnemonics (animal letters) and body movements, and teaches through physical games and activities.
Zoo-phonics meets from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 3 p.m., Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.
A two-day nursery is available mornings and afternoons Tuesdays and Thursdays and afternoons Mondays and Wednesdays.
Nursery-school children ages 3 and 4 learn letters, numbers, colors, shapes, nursery rhymes and songs as well as sharing, waiting in line, manners and taking turns.
“Teddy, Me and You” and “First Friends” are programs geared to those younger than age 3.
Annie's Art Shop introduces children ages 4 and 5 to various art media during an eight-week session.
For summer excitement, youngsters can take part in YMCA's popular two-tiered Day Camp. Little Camp is designed for campers ages 4 to 6 and Big Camp is geared for the 7- to 12-year-olds.
“This is a huge thing every year. We do seven weeks of a themed camp through the summer,” said Gulick, who said summer camp registration will begin in early April.
For families, the monthly Saturday Night Lives combine fun and physical activity for all members. They are held from 6 to 9 p.m. the second Saturday of each month.
“This is intended to be a family night,” said Gulick. “What they do is break off into age groups and have an hour of swimming and an hour of games in the gym, or they can go into the youth room where there are board games, ping pong and foosball. We always have a little snack, and a lot of times they will do a craft in conjunction with the snack time.”
Gulick said Saturday Night Lives have been offered for many years. They currently take place November through May and have attracted as many as 200 people. “February is usually our biggest month probably because people are starting to get cabin fever,” she said.
The YMCA also sponsors a Youth Swim Team for ages 6 to 18, with competitions, pizza parties, sleep-overs, a banquet and more.
In addition, morning and afternoon exercise and water exercise classes are offered for every fitness level, including Balanced Body, Zumba, Active Older Adult programs, Yoga and Jump and Wiggle for the little ones.
“The Mon Valley YMCA's mission is to make an impact on our community to ensure that the Mid-Mon Valley is a great place to live, work and raise a family,” executive director Jeffrey Vitale said. “Programs such as the after-school program, as an example, give youth in our area a place to engage in learning and social activities that will aid them in development and give them experiences that they might not otherwise have. The same can be said for our daycare program, which is licensed by the Department of Public Welfare, and our pre-school programs, which are licensed by the Pa. Department of Education or our JASP (Juvenile After-School Program) which works in conjunction with Washington County Child and Youth Services.”
Vitale said the YMCA exists to serve the community and its needs. “While to a lot of people we are merely a gym, and that's a big and important part of what we do, our mission goes far beyond fitness,” Vitale said. “The National YMCA slogan is: ‘We're for Youth Development, Social Responsibly and Healthy Living.' When the ‘Y' strives to reach the goals of that slogan, we are creating a positive impact on our community as a whole.”
In April, the local YMCA will join the national organization in promoting “Healthy Living Day.” It will include activities for children and camp information will be available.
The Mon Valley YMCA also helps raise funds and awareness for charitable causes.
This past September, it held a Zumbathon to benefit the American Heart Association and is planning a similar event for Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer awareness in May.
Among other programs, the 'Y' offers “Santa's Sitters” at Christmas time, an after-school program for at-risk children, Silver Sneakers events, Youth and Teen clubs and a Teen Leaders Club that promotes volunteerism. The local ‘Y' participates in the YMCA Military Outreach Program that provides free membership to members of veterans who are actively deployed.
Hours at the YMCA are from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays; 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 to 5:30 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, call 724-483-8077 or visit monvalleyymca.org.
Colleen Pollock is a freelance writer.