YMCA in Gainesville reimagines its mission with youth and teenage heart

The YMCA in Gainesville is reimaging itself after a number of robust years, with a imaginative and prescient of branching out extra into Alachua County to fulfill the wants of younger folks.

Angela Howard, CEO of the North Central Florida YMCA, the YMCA’s aim is to strengthen the neighborhood by way of their three areas of focus: youth growth, wholesome residing, and social duty.

“Lots of people aren’t conscious of our goal and our three areas focus as a result of they see us as a gymnasium and a pool, so the final two phrases and our precise mission is for all,” Howard mentioned.

Kids ages 10-16 from YMCA’s Youth and Teen Heart program. Courtesy of John S. Rollins

The brand new enterprise mannequin might be extra inclusive and “purpose-driven” and can be sure that everybody all through the county can take part within the YMCA’s packages or take part in future packages that do not exist in the meanwhile.

The YMCA right here almost closed in 2016, however donations have saved it afloat because it reorganized following the arrest of its former high govt on embezzlement expenses.

“Beneath our Y we’ve got a pretty big territory, as a result of we’ve got all of Alachua County. So which means our rural communities, taking a look at totally different areas of going into the agricultural communities and really doing programming there,” Howard mentioned.

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Step one taken inside their enterprise mannequin was creating and implementing the Youth and Teen Heart with nonprofit group Motive8U of North Central Florida.

The Youth and Teen Heart launched in September and targets youngsters who ages 10-16.

Howard mentioned there’s quite a lot of programming for school-aged kids, nevertheless; by way of her analysis, she noticed that there wasn’t a lot for preteens and teenagers.

“And so once we checked out this analysis and noticed the juvenile arrest charges, and totally different stats, we mentioned okay,… 10-16 is the place we have to be,” Howard mentioned.

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John S. Rollins, CEO of Motiv8U and interim operations director of the YMCA, mentioned he has attended a number of conferences with teams in Alachua County corresponding to Kids’s Belief, the Alachua County Faculty Board and neighborhood associations the place it was recognized that quite a lot of youth do not have a protected place to go.

“The YMCA we’ve got an enormous facility, we’ve got quite a lot of area. We now have a mission that aligns with serving the neighborhood and it appeared like all of the items come collectively right here,” Rollins mentioned.

In keeping with figures from the Florida Division of Juvenile Justice within the 2019-2020 fiscal yr out of Alachua County’s 20,968 youth inhabitants — for ages 10-17 — there have been 699 juvenile arrests made. Black youth made up 83.3% of juvenile arrests, 15.2% of arrests had been white and 1.4% had been Hispanic youth.

The Youth and Teen Heart program operates from 12 p.m. to six:30 p.m. Monday by way of Friday, and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The middle hours begin at midday in order that the YMCA can cater to youth who could also be homeschooled.

College students who come by way of the middle have the chance to be taught primary cooking abilities and have had the chance to work in robotics. Presently, the scholars are engaged on portray a mural exterior the YMCA.

“Their subsequent venture is they’ll exit and plant a backyard and be taught what it means to develop your personal greens and have a tendency to them,” Howard mentioned.

It is a protected place the place youth can come and be a toddler, Rollins mentioned. The YMCA is trying to develop the middle to rural areas in Alachua County. Nevertheless, there are limitations that this system faces corresponding to transportation. If a toddler needs to take part in this system, their father or mother or guardian has to drop them off and decide them up.

“Our aim is to resolve our transportation challenge and make transportation obtainable as a result of we have heard from many who’re excited about what we’re doing that is that the problem they’re experiencing. If we might assist transport the scholars, we might in all probability serve extra college students,” Rollins mentioned.

The YMCA remains to be of their transitional section however going into the following yr they’re planning to have extra summer season camps within the rural communities that need and want their providers.

“I inform my crew, ‘okay, now, we’re on the point of transition. I want everyone to get their greatest tennis footwear out as a result of as soon as this transition begins transferring, we are actually going to start out operating,'” Howard mentioned.

This text initially appeared on The Gainesville Solar: YMCA Youth and Teen Heart involves Alachua County

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