Visitors to the Warren County YMCA's activity room are finding more than just a new look, they're finding a new mission.
Following a recent makeover, the activity room features a brighter, more modern look.
Gone are the drab white walls and worn furniture. In there place visitors are greeted with vibrant tones and durable, deco art furnishings. Gone too are vending machines full of chips and soda, replaced with new machines offering healthier choices.
Photo by Jacob Perryman
Students relax after school in the YMCA’s activity room with the new after-school program coordinator; (back L to R) Hailey Brewer and coordinator Belinda Brohm, Logan Orr and Sarah Satcho (front L to R) Zach Bennett, Michael Bero and Jeremiah Satcho.
The makeover wasn't just physical though; the YMCA is working to generate new programs to help young people grow and develop.
Every weekday, from approximately 4 p.m. until 6 p.m., the YMCA is hosting an after-school program complete with a program coordinator and activities.
"What we're trying to do is get the kids more invested themselves here and hopefully more invested in their community," YMCA Grant Writer Kim Slocum said. "Rather than just a place to hang out, although it's that too, hopefully, they'll volunteer in the future."
One part of efforts to grow programs included hiring a coordinator to be on-site during after school activities.
"What's unique is, we now have someone here to help with the program and provide some mentoring," Slocum said.
According to Slocum, the YMCA lucked out when it started looking for someone to fill the position when they found Belinda Brohm.
Brohm holds a fine arts degree from the Tyler School of Art, a part of the Temple University system, which can come in handy when organizing activities to keep young hands and minds busy.
"It's been proven," Brohm noted. "If you can get kids doing something creative it helps with brain development. Art and science go hand in hand more than people realize. Science is very much a part of art."
Since the program's inception about four weeks ago, Slocum said the YMCA has already seen an increase in use of the activities room during program hours.
"This has taken off," Slocum said. "We had more kids help with our Halloween party than we've ever had before."
"It's exciting for me," Brohm noted. "I see it as an opportunity to inspire kids."
"We really let them (the kids) be a part of the process," slocum added. "Rather than it being another thing they come to and are told what to do when they get there. It's something we're hoping to see grow."
Slocum noted community generosity is the propelling force in making the activities room, and accompanying programs, a success.
"This project is really happening just from the donations and grants we've gotten from people," Slocum noted, citing major contributions from Wal-Mart, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Frank Gehry Modern Furniture. "We wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for them."