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New YMCA facility is a place to build community

May 15th, 2013 9:25 am by Debra McCown

New YMCA facility is a place to build community

As the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA celebrates its 30th birthday this year, its brand new facility opens May 15.

The bright, new two-level facility on Meadowview Parkway features wellness areas with a view, group exercise classes for all ages and ability levels, community spaces, a child watch center for those using the facility and a three-story play structure for children. It shares a building with the new Kingsport Aquatic Center.

To celebrate its grand opening, the YMCA is hosting free events all weekend, May 17-19, including a kids’ concert, healthy family day, and joint ribbon-cutting ceremony with the aquatic center.

A membership at the YMCA, which can be purchased on a month-to-month basis, includes full use of the aquatic center. Though the aquatic center is a separate entity operated by the City of Kingsport, the YMCA has an agreement that allows its members to use it with no additional fee.

The YMCA is open seven days a week and offers financial assistance on a sliding scale for those who qualify.

“We want people to see that the Y is so much more than just a place to come and exercise,” said Abigail Weaver, marketing and communications director for the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA. “It’s a place where they can come and belong, and everyone is welcome.”

On the first level of the new facility is the lobby, child watch center and play structure, gymnasium, community spaces and members-only locker rooms.

On the second level are group exercise studios and wellness centers that are open to adults and teens. The wellness centers overlook Bays Mountain, the Cattails golf course, the aquatic center and the play structure. The second level also has a social area and a Wellmont physical therapy clinic.

“We provide physical activity and wellness for every age, every shape and size. We celebrate people where they are and help them become healthier,” said Weaver. “If they’re 50 and run marathons, there are classes for them. If they’re 80 and have arthritis, there are classes for them.”

The aquatics center includes an outdoor water park and an indoor swimming complex with a family pool/play area, a warm-water lap-swimming pool that’s wheelchair accessible, and a 50-meter lap-swimming pool.

The YMCA also operates its signature Afterschool and summer camp programs for elementary and middle school-aged children. Weaver said the program is ranked in the top 5 percent of YMCA programs nationwide in its proven impact on the well-being of kids.

But more than just a place for wellness programs and youth development activities, the YMCA is a place for the whole community to connect, said Weaver.

She said this can be especially true for empty-nesters, those middle-aged adults whose kids have grown up and moved out, who are looking to reconnect beyond a social circle that may have been defined by their kids’ activities.

With numerous activities, volunteer opportunities and places to socialize, she said the YMCA offers plenty of places for empty-nesters to plug in and make new friends.

“Once your kids leave,” she said, “there’s still a place for you at the Y.”

The Greater Kingsport Family YMCA, the local branch of a national nonprofit focused on strengthening communities nationwide, was opened in 1983 with after-school programs and summer camps to help meet the need for safe, affordable, high-quality child care.

Fundraising for a permanent facility for the YMCA began in 1996. In 2005, a leased facility opened off Eastman Road. It closed May 5 for the move to the new building.

After more than 15 years of fundraising, the new facility opening May 15 was built with some $6 million in donations – including large donations from Wellmont Health System, the Eastman Chemical Company Foundation, and Sam and Delois Anderson.

Over the years, Weaver said, the social connections formed at the YMCA have been just as important to its members – and their overall health and wellness – as the physical fitness component.

She said the stories are incredible of how the YMCA has impacted people in Kingsport and met the needs of so many. She said it has connected troubled youth with desperately needed mentors, provided struggling families a recreational outlet, and helped seniors improve their health.

For more information on the YMCA membership, programs and grand opening festivities, visit online or call (423) 247-YMCA.

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