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Sewickley Valley YMCA set to improve space for child-related programs

Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

As needs change, so has the Sewickley Valley YMCA.

Later this year, YMCA leaders will launch renovation of space at the 109-year-old facility that is used for child care and other child-related programs.

The $2.5 million project includes modernizing spaces used for several age groups, relocating some child care-related office space and putting into use about 2,500 square feet on the third floor — an area that has remained empty for at least 40 years, CEO Trish Hooper said.

Utilizing the third floor space - which last served as dorms for men returning from war - will mean the Y can enroll 40 more children in its child care programs, bringing the center's on-site enrollment to about 140 kids, Hooper said.

Overall, about 220 children, ages six weeks old through fifth grade, are enrolled at on-site and off-site programs, including at Moon Area School District's five elementary schools and middle school, and Ambridge Area School District's State Street Elementary School. “We like to say that's probably the best kept secret of the Y,” Hooper said of the programs. “Most people don't look at our Y and think that the child care program is that extensive. It's an important aspect of how we serve the community.”

Hooper said about $1.3 million has been raised for the project, including donations from foundations.

“We've got broad community support,” she said. “We're looking to broaden that support more.”

YMCA leaders plan to start construction later this year, with work expected to be completed by spring 2014, Hooper said.

The renovations will allow the Y to use its child-care space more efficiently.

On the main floor, renovations will unify food preparation space, allowing staff to offer healthier snacks for children, Hooper said.

Right now, a kitchen is tucked into a closet and a microwave sits across one of the child care rooms.

The long-vacant third floor requires more extensive work.

“This is a little bit more intense than (DIY Network's) ‘Yard Crashers,'” Hooper said. “‘Crash My Attic' — that's what this would be.”

It could be converted for school-age children to do homework and for activities for children in other age groups, she said.

“Without the renovations, and without adding the space on the third floor, we're out of space,” she said.

Spokeswoman Amy Richardson said families throughout the Sewickley Valley use the Y's child care services.

“Every year, there's a waiting list of families who need our help,” she said. “The worst thing we would want is for a child to be going home alone after school.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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