By SHERIDAN CYR
The Southington-Cheshire YMCA celebrated 90 years with a week-long birthday party open to the entire community. Last week, each day from Monday to Saturday featured different themed activities including a pool party, senior day, a birthday picnic, health and wellness, a teen party and Sloper Day.
“It’s not every day you turn 90,” said executive director John Myers at the birthday picnic on Wednesday, May 9, celebrating the actual day the YMCA was founded. “This week has been great, and everyone has been getting involved. That sense of community is a big part of why we’re here today.”
Wednesday’s event was orchestrated by the YMCA Learning Center, a preschool and daycare center. Children and their families played lawn games like bean bag toss, volleyball, kickball and Newcomb. There were two bounce houses, arts and crafts, a gladiator dodgeball pit, a face painting station, and the popular “Sloper Express” mini train making its way through the Main Y Back Field.
“We wanted to bring the whole community together by treating this whole week like an open house,” said marketing director Brittney Tripp. “We wanted to thank everyone for supporting us for all these years by opening our arms and inviting everyone to see us doing what we do best.”
School Age Child Care director Nicole Guerra and School Age Child Care Coordinator Caroline Roy lead the activities on the lawn behind the YMCA. Guerra accredited all the staff members involved in planning and executing the birthday party celebration.
“I stay involved because I love the Y and what it stands for,” Guerra said. “The passion is here. We have such a wonderful team, all of our members are great, and it just feels like a family. It’s one of those jobs where you enjoy it so much, you never feel like you’re actually working.”
Across the street at the YMCA Learning Center, Director of Childcare Development Katie Sherman kept a watchful eye over the playscape and indoor bounce house. Inside the hallway, guests peered over six enormous scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings and photos of the YMCA through its 90 years of history.
“We are thrilled to celebrate this historic day for the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA with our friends in the community,” Sherman said. “The Y has been a pillar in the community, and we are looking forward to the next 90 years and beyond.”
Sherman said she has been involved in the YMCA since she was a child, and takes joy in seeing children benefit and grow through their years of involvement.
“Kids today spend so much time on their tablets and other technology. I believe they do need these preschool skills and aftercare,” she said. “These are life skills that stay with them longterm.”
The YMCA’s preschool and afterschool program features a full curriculum including lesson plans, targeted goals, parent conferences and more. It is staffed with certified teachers, with two teachers assigned to each of the eight total classrooms.
“From birth to age five is the most crucial period for brain development,” Sherman said. “We are so lucky to have such a dedicated staff to teach children these necessary, critical skills.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by JANELLE MORELLI