KANSAS CITY, Mo — The new Kirk Family YMCA in downtown Kansas City is finally opening its doors to the public.
The facility, which was under construction for two years, and was completed last December. It is partially opening with a summer camp for working families and kids who need extra schooling before fall.
President and Chief Executive Officer John Mikos said this 10-week educational summer camp was a need expressed by parents.
Remote learning has brought new challenges for their kids, and according to Mikos, staff have seen increases in behavior issues most likely associated with isolation.
“I can’t imagine what these children are going through this last year,” Mikos said. “So we thought ‘Hmm, we have a brand new building sitting right downtown, there seems to be a tremendous need of being able to serve children in the downtown area, and since we weren’t using this building for anything right now, what better opportunity to fill this building that’s not being used for children.’”
Matt Postlewait is the summer camp director at the YMCA.
He said his curriculum this year is all about getting the kids back together and learning again.
“Every single day we try and incorporate reading of some sort… STEM, math, science, engineering, mathematics; we’ll do a lot of art activities as well,” Postlewait said. “I kind of strive to do things that are very creative — activities that’ll kind of let your mind go wherever it wants.”
COVID-19 is challenging summer camps across the nation, but Postlewait said bringing back safe spaces like this is crucial for the success of the kids and their parents.
“There’s a difference between surviving and being successful, and our kids are going to grow from being successful more than they would be if their parents are just surviving," he said.
Mikos said YMCA also kicked off an intensive summer program last week called SPARK. It operates out of three metro locations and targets students who have openly expressed falling behind in remote learning.
Mikos said it is much more educationally-based with the intent to get students caught up before the next school year.
If you would like to donate or offer financial assistance for children in your area to participate in educational summer camps, the YMCA is always accepting donations for future scholarships and programs.