Hi Rowan County! I’m back with you all to share the great news of what we have going on in Rowan County. It is no surprise that our many community-based organizations have stepped up to fill the needs of our community. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to check out some of my previous blogs like this one: Heroes, health, and supporting our Seniors in Rowan County. We can’t tell you enough how lucky we are to have organizations like Rowan County Meals on Wheels, Rufty Holmes Senior Center, and the Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA’s to help our seniors.
I’ve found out about more great programs that began this fall to help our families and youth! First, please know that as the world changes around us, countless Rowan County organizations are stepping up to the plate to help our neighbors in need. These two examples are just that – examples of the work being done across our community. I am so proud to be from Rowan County and to be a partner in the great things we’ve planned for students and families.
With that – let’s jump into it! First, I’d like to share about a new program being offered by our local YMCA’s – Y Academy. With virtual classes becoming part of the “new normal,” YMCA leadership recognized the call to action as they were hearing that many families needed extended childcare this school year. The Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA has created the Y Academy to help families in their time of need. Y Academy is a combination of day camp and afterschool services that offers virtual learning time, homework time, and STEM programming in a safe environment. In addition, participants will be able to go swimming, take fitness classes, do arts and crafts, play games, and more. Each program is capped at a certain number of students based on the square footage and space available to spread out. What I love about this opportunity is that students get to see and interact with each other in a safe and controlled environment. Rowan-Salisbury Schools have been doing an amazing job with two in-person class days and three virtual days, but we know that schedule may not work for every family.
Y Academy creates a great place for families that allows them to send their children to a great learning environment and not have to worry about coordinating or juggling schedules. Having this opportunity is extremely important to support businesses in our community.
“We are excited to provide Y Academy to our community and things are going well. The kids love the fun physical activities and games and they are learning while they are playing,” says Regional Executive Director, Richard Reinholz. Recently, the Cabarrus and Rowan YMCA sites combined to form the Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA, which has been beneficial for added connectivity for the two communities.
Our local YMCA’s, as a standard practice, will not turn anyone away due to an inability to pay. Financial assistance will be available for those who need it. If you are able, please consider sponsoring this critical program so that each child has the opportunity to be in a safe, fun, supervised environment.
Adventure at the Y!
In addition to providing a safe environment for students, the YMCA is taking it a step further by ensuring that this time is put to good use for our youth. Healthy Rowan, our local coalition working to make Rowan County a healthier place to live, has a program called “Adventure Rowan” that we’ve shared before. Our circumstances have made us innovative in the approaches we are taking to promote health to youth in the community.
Megan Hargis, Healthy Rowan Program Coordinator, meets with students weekly at the J. F. Hurley YMCA site to provide education and promote physical activity. We know that students are adjusting to a very different lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean the ways we can stay healthy have changed. Through the Adventure at the Y! program, students receive information about nutrition, sleep, healthy eating, stress management (yes, even kids get stressed!), and physical activity.
The YMCA’s Y Academy provides the perfect environment to do this. Not only are we helping build up the health of local Elementary to Middle School students, we’re also training the facilitators – many of whom are college students taking online classes. The goal with the Adventure at the Y! program is that students feel supported and have fun when it comes to learning about their health.
In the coming months, students will be exposed to different types of physical activity and different types of fruits and vegetables. In addition, they receive parent handouts that encourage the lessons to continue at home with tips and tricks for healthy living.
Jennifer Burroughs, the Youth Development Coordinator at the J.F. Hurley YMCA, said, “We are excited to provide Y Academy to our community and things are going well. The addition of Adventure Rowan has been fantastic. The kids love the fun physical activities and games and they are learning while they are playing.” Jennifer allowed the J.F. Hurley YMCA to be the pilot site for the Adventure at the Y! program. She also leads the many facilitators and staff for the Y Academy program.
Families who might be interested or in need of the Y Academy services can still enroll their children in the program. Each YMCA branch in our new Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA system offers the program. Contact Jennifer Burroughs at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!