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YMCA: Helping parents help kids grow healthy, strong, confident

YMCA: Helping parents help kids  grow healthy, strong, confident For most people, the YMCA means swimming laps in the p’ool, lifting weights, a pickup game of basketball or maybe even a yoga class.

But for many, when they hear YMCA, they think “child care.” The YMCA of America is one of the largest providers of child care services in the U.S., with programs across the country designed to help kids grow strong, learn, stay safe, learn to live a healthy life, and to practice social responsibility.

“The YMCA’s mission is to build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities. We can think of no better place to start than in the early years of life,” said Robert “Bob” Green, Executive Director of the Ashland Area YMCA.

“We cherish each and every child who comes to us for care, and love them for their unique talents, thoughts and personalities,” Bob Green said. “We strive to provide a responsible, loving, caring, honest and respectful environment in which children can learn and grow.”

The Child Care program at the Ashland Y is a year-round, state-certified program that offers age-specific classes during the school year. The day care program serves infants and toddlers, from 12 to 36 months of age. The pre-school program serves kids from age 3 to kindergarten, with a focus on school readiness.

The Y provides afterschool programs for students kindergarten through sixth grade as well as summer day camp experiences.

The Y’s school year begins in August and is tied to the start of the Ashland Independent school year. Students are registered full-time status, five days per week. An annual registration fee is due in August of each year. Child care fees are pre-paid at the beginning of each week.

Children who are fully potty trained, age 2 and up, have the added advantage of swimming lessons, taught by certified Y lifeguards. “We put an emphasis on swimming because it’s more than just a recreational activity,” Bob Green said. “It’s a skill that can save a life and we think it’s critical that kids begin to learn how to swim as soon as possible.”

The Ashland Area YMCA is the only child care program in the area that provides swimming lessons for its students.

The child care program begins every morning at 6:30 a.m., when students begin to arrive. At 8 a.m. daily, students receive a nutritious breakfast, provided by the Y. Following breakfast, kids participate in activities designed to help them learn, develop social skills, and develop healthy habits. Lunch is served beginning around 10:30 a.m., depending on the child’s age. Parents are responsible for providing a nutritious lunch that includes vegetables, fruits and proteins.

Lunch is followed by rest time, then with free time, structured play/lessons or physical activity. “We believe that children learn through play. Therefore, we provide an environment that allows children optimal opportunities for self-exploration and hands-on learning.” Student-teacher ratios for children 12 year to 36 months are 6:1; for kids over the age of 2, the ratio is 10:1.

Special programs are held throughout the year to celebrate holidays, including Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, etc.

School-age program
The Y’s afterschool program runs 2:45 to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Bus transportation from Poage, Oak View and Hager elementary schools is provided. Students enrolled in the afterschool program receive help with homework, and participate in structure play, arts and crafts and free play. An afternoon snack is provided by the Y.

The Y also provides Day Camp programs for school-age children during teacher in-service days, select national holidays, school vacations, and bad weather days.

YMCA child care staff members undergo a criminal background check and drug testing. Certification in infant, child and adult CPR is required, as is first aid training. In addition, YMCA child care staff undergo a fifteen-hour training program focused on health, safety and sanitation.

“We are proud of the quality program we provide at the YMCA,” Bob Green said. “And we invite you to learn more about how the Y can be your partner in caring for your children.”

For more information about child care at the Ashland Area YMCA, to arrange a tour, or to learn more about requirements for enrollment, please stop by the membership desk; call the Center at 606-329-6784 or email child care Director Kelly Hunley at khunley@ashlandareaymca.org.

The Ashland Area YMCA is located at 3232 Megan Neyer Way, Ashland, KY.

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