YWCA expands programs, remodels building
Mitchell’s YWCA is expanding its programming and has reopened after remodeling in 2013.
“2014 is going to be pretty big for us,” said Christine Perkins, office manager.
Throughout 2013, the building received a cosmetic lift with new carpeting, a new office area and a kitchen, which it did not have before. This gives the YWCA — located at 1109 N. Main St. — a better space for its expanded programming like fitness and cooking classes.
The nationally affiliated nonprofit in Mitchell was chartered in 1920 and carries the same mission today — eliminating racism and empowering women. The nonprofit is partially funded through Mitchell United Way, fees from Kids Klub and Begindergarten Boost, private donations and memberships.
The YWCA recently wrapped up its first Zumba class, is planning a second class for April and hopes to start a new fitness class later this spring.
Zumba is a popular type of dance aerobic exercise, which Perkins thought would draw a younger crowd.
“It drew the older women,” she said with a laugh. “And most of them plan to come back for the second session.”
Zumba starts again April 7 with eight classes. It runs every Monday and Thursday for four weeks.
“Fitness is a huge part of that. Zumba is just fun. It’s something to do with your girlfriends and it doesn’t seem like working out,” she said.
YWCA Marketing Director Gianna Lantero leads the class. Perkins hopes to expand the class to Zumba Kids, and Zumba Gold, which is a more advanced program.
Aside from Zumba, Perkins said Executive Director Kaylee Nicolaisen is working to start a “Functional Fitness” program, during which participants use their own body weight for resistance rather than equipment. Nicolaisen is also a certifi ed personal trainer and could offer oneon-one training, group or both.
As planning for fi tness programs move forward, Perkins hopes to incorporate small dance and fitness classes for children, and nutritional classes as well.
This fall, as school begins, the YWCA plans to begin the Z.O.N.E (Zero Out Negative Activity) program for sixth- and ninth-grade girls to help build confidence and character as they enter middle and high school.
“We’ve studied this quite a bit,” Perkins said. “Yes, we want to be able to promote self-confidence and self-awareness in younger girls, but we want the girls to have fun doing it.”
To start with, Z.O.N.E. will consist of fitness, teaching girls how to cook and bake, and how to start managing money. Girls don’t have to sign up for the whole program, rather they can take portions of it.
“The program and curriculum is still being developed,” Perkins said. “But some girls may not be interested in baking but want to do fitness. They can do that.”
Perkins said the goal is to better integrate learning through participating in activities.
“We feel we can get through to them better when they’re preoccupied,” she added.
Kids Klub is an after-school program that incorporates learning and play in a safe and fun environment at Mitchell’s three public elementary schools and John Paul II Catholic Elementary School. The program has 125 students enrolled. It is run by staff with state certifications in early childhood or elementary education, or college students who are working on those degrees. The staff runs at a ratio of 1 per 10 or 15 students, Perkins said.
The program is available every day school is in session and students typically take part in a scheduled educational activity, snack and play time — either in the gymnasium or outside.
“We try to get them outside as much as possible,” Perkins said.
Scheduled activities usually cater to a theme each month. Perkins gave the example that February was National Children’s Dental Health Month, so the kids learned about teeth and how to take care of them.
Kids Klub also offers a summer program with full- and part-time options. The program is available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday all summer. Starting this summer, Perkins said they will have daily and monthly rates.
“It’s just a great, fun program for all kids to go to,” Perkins said. “At the same time it helps parents.”
Begindergarten Boost began three years ago as a complementary program to Begindergarten at Mitchell’s elementary schools. Begindergarten is a transitional grade between home or daycare and kindergarten. It runs a half-day every day and the YWCA found this as an opportunity to fill in the gap.
“This is ideal for those parents who can’t pick up children at 11:15,” she said, referring to when begindergarten ends each day. “It helps parents, but we work closely with teachers to be able to pick up where they left off with the students.”
Those who run the program are certified in early childhood or elementary education, or are working toward their degree. They work with begindergarten students on anything they may have issues with like writing their name, learning their numbers or simply tying their shoes.
The students get recess, nap time and reading time to occupy their day from 11:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
“We also like to work on the social aspect of preparing them for kindergarten,” Perkins said. “Learning to stand in a line, not to push the kid in front of you, walk down a hallway and not grab everything off the wall, how to behave on the playground and lunchroom.”
A free program offered at the YWCA is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Any family with children ages birth to 5 can sign up to receive one free book per month until their fifth birthday or they move out of Davison County, Perkins said.
All they have to do is fill out a short form with children’s names, gender and date of birth in order to receive gender and age-appropriate books, she added.
Funding through Mitchell United Way makes it possible to provide Imagination Library. Currently, 354 families are signed up for the program, which has been offered for years, Perkins said.
Teddy Bear Treasures
A program for expecting and new mothers, Teddy Bear Treasures offers a points plan for participants as an incentive to get prenatal care. The points can be used to purchase items for their baby through the program like diapers, strollers, wipes, toys and more. Mothers must either be pregnant or have a child younger than 18 months to participate.
To sign up, women can go to the Davison County Offices at 1420 N. Main St.