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The North Cass Street home for every member of the family

Apr 04, 2017 12:46PM ● Published by Steven Hoffman

Gallery: YMCA [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

When David Halley, the director of the new Middletown Family YMCA, was part of a dedicated team that helped to start the YMCA in the Bear-Glasgow area a few years ago, he kept hearing the same chorus of need.

“It seemed that as soon as we built the Bear-Glasgow facility, it was quickly followed with, 'What about Middletown now?'” Halley said. “With every event I attended, with every survey we read, the call to establish a YMCA in Middletown was overwhelming.”

In October 2016, when the YMCA of Delaware announced that it would expand into Middletown, the decision was not only practical -- it would serve one of the fastest growing regions in the state -- it was also undertaken with the idea that the content of its curriculum would take direction from its future constituents.

“When we began to plan the Middletown Family YMCA, we thought, 'What can we design that will best be able to accommodate the needs of our families?'” Halley said. “While we made the decision to have preschool, summer day camp, babysitting services, fitness classes for children, as well as classes for adults and seniors, it was crucial for us to leave room for feedback. Leaving that room will enable us to eventually fill the needs of our members even more efficiently. We want to make sure that we don't miss anything.”

Ask any of the Y's more than 1,800 members and they will agree that those who created the 6,400-square-foot facility on North Cass Street have not missed a thing. A state-of-the-art fitness center, movement studio and a fully supervised Kids Zone complement a full slate of classes and activities targeted to every member of the family. The facility features services that come free to members, including a child care area for children six weeks to 12 years old. They also offer a variety of workout classes, such as Zumba, Bodypump, Cycle, Yoga, Bootcamp, Bodycombat, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and LIFE (Low Impact Fitness Experience), which is a class designed specifically for seniors.

Even before the facility officially opened on Jan. 3, Halley had begun to sense a great anticipation for the new Y.

“YMCA officials were inundated by requests to be 'Founding Members' when the announcement was made, and more than 1,000 people took advantage of the membership with benefits,” he said. “On the morning of Founders Day, a large corwd of members were lined up at the door, waiting to get in.”

Beginning this summer, the YMCA’s day camps will provide a wide range of camps from Traditional, Sports, Specialty, and Teens. Campers will experience a variety of activities including arts and crafts, environmental education, literacy education, team building activities, field trips, character development, outdoor games, swimming and more.

“Our camps give children ranging in age from kindergarten through tenth grade the chance to grow in their self-confidence and character," Halley said. "They will play a variety of games, meet new friends, and have the opportunity to go on field trips and swim.”

Sports camps, for grades 2-7, will introduce the basic skills needed to succeed in each area of the sport they choose. Campers will learn the fundamentals of the game along with various positions, rules and regulations.

Specialty camps, for grades 4-7, will include a variety of themes from animals to cooking.

The fact that the Middletown Family YMCA is neighbors to several schools makes it a perfect partner for collaboration. This year, two programs specifically for students in the 8th through 10th grades will be introduced: a Youth in Government class is designed to introduce students to how the government works; and a Team Leaders program, that will encourage students to develop and then cultivate their skills in order to become future leaders.

One of the missions of the YMCA of Delaware is to go where the people are. Deborah Bagatta-Bowles, CEO of the YMCA of Delaware, said the current facility is the YMCA’s initial investment into the community. She said construction of a $10 million-$12 million facility should be a reality in three to five years. Funds are already being put aside for that future project, she said.

“This is how the Bear-Glasgow branch started,” Bagatta-Bowles said. “We hope to duplicate that in Middletown. The next step in that project is to put together a local board and start fundraising efforts.”

While the Middletown Family YMCA anticipates extended growth and more services, Halley believes that the success of the new location is measured by properly serving one family at a time.

“Middletown is very much about families,” he said, “and we want to keep that in our forefront.”

The Middletown Family YMCA is accepting registration for its first summer day camps, which will be held at Silver Lake Elementary School and Park (200 E. Cochran St., Middletown). Participants will enjoy weekly sessions that will run Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. To 4 p.m., from June 19 through Aug. 11. Youth who attend camp also have the option of participating in “before and after care” for no additional cost between 7 and 9 a.m. And 4 to 6 p.m.

To learn more, visit www.ymcade.org/middletown, or call 302-616-9622. The Middletown Family YMCA is at 404 N. Cass St., Middletown.

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