By Laurin Stroud
Two months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Northwest Gibson County YMCA, eliminating its vital children’s programming as well as its fitness equipment and classes.
Earlier this month, the Y reopened with restricted hours and strict guidelines.
“We are maintaining social distancing, staff are using gloves and masks, screening people before they come in, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning,” said Center Director Melissa White, “We do have a 15-person maximum, and appointments to work out are not needed.”
“There are no personal trainers at this time, but we do offer virtual workout videos through our website. We are also not offering services to guests at this time. You must be a member,” White added.
On June 8, the Y will extend its hours, open the pool for open swim and water aerobics, and begin some group exercise classes. There will be no swim lessons this year.
The YMCA has received a grant to provide free childcare for all essential workers. The daycare is open Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to children ages 5-12.
The free essential childcare has helped many in the community. “School was let out unexpectedly 2 months earlier than normal,” Kelli Allen said, “We had budgeted for childcare over the summer, but not for the additional 2 months. My husband and I are both essential workers, and the childcare at the Y has helped tremendously. Childcare for 3 kids adds up, and this has been such a stress relief knowing that they are being taken care of while enjoying such wonderful activities that the Y has to offer. The kids love the program.”
“The childcare has been a blessing,” Dana Holmes said, “My husband and I are both essential workers, and if it wasn’t for this program, I would have had to quit my job to watch our two children.”
“Children are required to maintain social distancing,” said Director of Childcare Courtney Petty. “They have arts and crafts, play outside, physical activities, and manipulative play centers. The grant is through June 5 as of now, but we are hoping to get it extended throughout the whole summer. However, registration is open until the end of July. People can register online, but there might be a waiting list.”
The summer childcare program is usually held at Trenton Elementary, but this year, due to school closings and the grant, the program is being held at the YMCA.
“I’m hoping that we can fully open in a few months,” said White. “We truly miss our members.”
To find out more about joining the YMCA, virtual work outs, group exercise schedule, and information on essential childcare, visit https://www.ymcamemphis.org/locations/branches/northwest-gibson-county-ymca/ or call 420-4277.