They are the future of our community and a local non-profit has unveiled plans to help the littlest Siouxlanders.
"So we're investing in our youth of Sioux land for our future, right? That's what we're doing." The Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA unveiled plans for a 12,000-foot expansion and building renovations. They are currently in Phase 1, renovating part of the existing building to better serve the youth and programs they currently have. They've begun the fundraising portion of the new development, all of which will be dedicated to youth development.
"So we're trying to be unique and really taking a look at the true need of Siouxland to see where those gaps are and then The Y wants to be able to fill that to the best of our ability," said Rhonda Robson, CEO of the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA.
This expansion will include several classrooms and child care areas for babies as young as 6 weeks up through the Y's preschool program that they launched this year. They also have plans for a large indoor play area, which they hope to make a unique space in the tri-state.
They will offer traditional childcare and also different types to give working parents options for finding a safe place for their children.
"what we're looking at doing is actually extending that and making it earlier. So that second shift worker could so the second shift workforce, the entire workforce could possibly have care even into the evening, the y's already open. So why not be able to do that?
And if you don't need full-time child care, they will have part-time options, too.
"What we're going to do is we're going to have drop-in childcare as well," said Robson, "so that those parents who maybe have a part-time job or a second job will be able to do that."
This project is one Robson and the Y team have had in the works for several years, with a goal to fill a gap in child care offerings, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the progress of the plans. But now, the Y team is dedicated to creating a space for all kids and parents.
"We're in a childcare desert and what that means is essential there are more children who need care than there are spots," said Robson.
They will be adding over 80 new spots for child care as well as hiring several more full and part-time positions within the Y. All with one goal in mind: creating a place for Siouxland kids to learn and grow.
"This is really a project that we're investing in Siouxland, because 85% of all brain development happens before the age of five, so zero to five," said Robson. "So the YMCA and this project and people who donate to this project and support this project will be investing in the future of Siouxland. So that's what I think is super cool is that we're investing in children and we're investing in our future."
And with this expansion, they hope to bring in more programming for not only the smallest Siouxlanders, but the older kids as well.
"So we first started in after-school care, and then we went to preschool and now we're looking at taking on the younger generation, even smaller of the babies and all the way up to teens," Robson said. "Because we're talking about leadership programming too, as well."
The Y has begun the fundraising portion of the expansion and relies fully on donations to make this possible. If you'd like to contribute or learn more about how you can help make this happen, you can contact the Y directly.
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