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Changes await Young People's Place

Contributed photo Young People's Place will soon be located inside the new YMCA. It will have a designated room for each of its programs. This is the new preschool room for children ages 33 months to 4 years old.

Dawn Block is looking forward to June 1 when the doors of the new Young People's Place childcare center will open in the newly constructed Alexandria Area YMCA.

Block, the early childhood director of Young People's Place, is excited because all three current locations of the childcare center will be located in one building.

Young People's Place currently has facilities at the Spirit Building on Aga Drive, at Bethesda Lutheran Church and Center East on Jefferson Street.

Young People's Place is a state-licensed facility that has been in the Alexandria community for the past 30-plus years.

The early childhood center is licensed for 96 families with its current arrangement. However, once it is relocated, it will be licensed for 132 families, noted Block.

"Our facility needs are now going to be addressed," said Block. "And we will be able to service more families."

Once the move is complete, there will also be changes to the number of staff members, which will increase from the current 18 to anywhere between 26 to 30, including full and part-time.

Besides staff and facility changes, Block noted that a major change would occur in programming.

By being a part of the YMCA, she said Young People's Place is able to offer more programming needs to the families it serves.

In addition, YMCA uses a creative curriculum that is specifically designed for each age group and classroom.

There are five different age group categories, including:

•Infant - 6-weeks old to 15-months old.

•Toddler - 16-months old to 32-months old.

•Preschool - 33-months old to 4-years old.

•Kindergarten readiness - 4-years old through kindergarten age.

•School-age - grades K-6.

Block noted that through this summer, Young People's Place plans to continue to use the Spirit Building on Aga Drive part-time for the school-age program.

Students will spend time at the Spirit Building for arts and crafts, science experiments and other activities, while using the YMCA for recreational swimming, outdoor hiking/walking, community garden and outdoor games, among others.

Next month, on May 1 and 2, Young People's Place will be looking for volunteers to help set up the playground equipment.

Block said she is looking for about 30 handy men and women to help install the equipment at the YMCA location. About 20 people are needed for the installation and prep work and 10 for miscellaneous work, she noted.

Those interested in helping on May 1 and 2 should call Darren Lichty, YMCA property manager, at (320) 834-9622.

Volunteers will also be needed to help move boxes and other belongings from each location to the YMCA building. Interested parties should call Block at (320) 763-7252.

Block noted that Jeff Bartholomew, YMCA executive director, will be giving tours of the new YMCA facilities every Wednesday in April and May at 5:30 p.m. For questions about the tours, contact Bartholomew at (320) 834-9622.

For more information about Young People's Place, call Block at (320) 763-7252 or visit