Pictured: Renovations are currently underway on the interior of the new Sedro-Woolley Rec Center to prepare the space for new YMCA programming in Summer 2022.
The Skagit Valley Family YMCA is expanding its reach further in Skagit County.
The Skagit Y will now have a presence in Sedro-Woolley, where we’ve just taken over the old Central Library location at 802 Ball Street. The building, which the YMCA is renaming the Sedro-Woolley Rec Center, will house youth programming starting this summer, with hopes to expand programming for all ages in the future.
“The Skagit Y is thrilled to partner with the city of Sedro-Woolley,” Skagit YMCA CEO Dean Snider says. “This opportunity to expand the Y’s reach into Sedro-Woolley and provide programming for youth aligns with our mission and our commitment to youth development.” The Skagit Y currently provides youth programming out of its Hoag Road center in Mount Vernon; programs for teens seeking stabilizing services through YMCA Oasis in Mount Vernon; has childcare sites in Mount Vernon, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley, and Anacortes; and runs multiple summer camps.
Summer 2022 Programming
The Y will offer two free programs in the Rec Center starting this summer: a free drop-in center for youth ages 12-17 with enrichment activities and educational opportunities, and a running program for youth entering grades 5-12. Participants in the running program will get free running shoes and gear and will learn from local coaches. Both programs will run for 8 weeks (June 27 – August 19).
The Y is also launching Flag Football in Sedro-Woolley this summer; games and practices will take place at the Winnie Houser Playfields.
Combined, these programs will provide youth ages 6 years old to 12th grade with healthy programming.
“We know the entire valley needs more pro-social spaces for young people to connect safely with their peers,” says Skagit YMCA Director of Advancement, Kat Lohman. “I am excited to see the connections youth make in the space with each other and everything the Y has to offer, from Oasis shelter to healthy living programs and more. It’s a win all around, especially for young people and their families.”
The YMCA hopes to operate the drop-in center long term, offering programs designed to give kids good, healthy options outside of school hours. “We see these programs as something that should continue past this summer as a preventive measure to keep kids in a positive mindset and learning positive things that can help them launch into adulthood,” Snider says.
The Y in Sedro-Woolley: A long time coming
Plans for a YMCA building in Sedro-Woolley have been in the works for a few years now. Back in 2018, the Y and the City of Sedro-Woolley began talks about how the Central Library space might be utilized to serve SW residents after the new library was built. Interest was high in programs and activities for youth. The City put out a survey to parents in 2019 asking what types of activities they were most interested in for their kids, and parents responded overwhelmingly in favor of recreation.
Enter the COVID-19 pandemic. Conversations between the YMCA and the City ground to a halt.
In the fall of 2021, the City approached the Y again with a new opportunity for grant funding through the Washington Recreation & Park Assocation’s Summer Experiences and Enrichment for Kids (SEEK) Fund. Funds from this grant are intended to benefit communities and families who might not otherwise have access to paid summer activities, helping bridge learning gaps made wider by the pandemic.
The Y team pulled together an application for a drop-in center and running club – both designed to be low-barrier opportunities for life-long skills building. The program would cover running kits for each student so that families without the funds to purchase such items wouldn’t face barriers to participating. Meals would also be provided on site. The inclusion of the drop-in component was also designed so that youth who might not have the stability to commit to eight structured weeks of running would still have opportunities for recreation.
In January 2022, the City and the Y received the good news that the program was fully funded, effectively greenlighting the Y to begin planning out the program.
“It is rewarding to emerge from these last two years with this exciting partnership in growth mode,” says Snider. “The Sedro-Woolley leadership has been a joy to work with!”
Incorporating community feedback
The running program and drop-in center are the inaugural two programs that will operate out of the Rec Center, and the hope is to expand programming in the future. A survey will be sent to program participants and the greater community in late summer to gauge interest in future programs that would benefit the town most. The Y will take that feedback into consideration when planning future programming.
“There are a lot of possibilities for the space, and we look forward to working with the community to see what the real deep needs of the community are,” Snider says.
Open house and ribbon cutting
A ribbon cutting will take place at 1:00pm on Wednesday, June 22 to officially “open” the new space. Members of the YMCA, the Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Sedro-Woolley will be on hand to celebrate.
A few days later, the Y is hosting an open house from 11:00am – 1:00pm on Saturday, June 25th in the new space. This event is free and open to the community, and families and Woolley residents are invited to tour, meet YMCA staff, and learn more about the programs taking place this summer.
Donations of like-new and gently used activity items for youth are wanted from the community to support the program! Items like a foosball table, pinball machines, TVs, and lawn games are all needed. Donations coordinated and accepted by appointment only.
For donations and questions about the new Rec Center or summer programs in Sedro-Woolley, please reach out to [email protected].
Registration is still open for our free, 8-week running program for youth entering grades 5-12 beginning June 27 (don’t forget, each student receives a free running kit including fitted running shoes!). For more information about our SW programs, click here.