Sunday, April 21, 2024

YMCA to rise again

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The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) is dreaming big.
The organization has plans for a covered multisport facility, along with a gym, swimming pool, administrative building and auditorium – all at its long-time Pinfold Street location.
But the YMCA, which has been contributing to the development of men and women in the island since 1880, needs over $3 million to fund the project.
General secretary of the organization, David Norgrove, recently said: “We want to provide sporting facilities for the young people that are attractive to them . . . . Which youngster is going to want to pass by here and say, ‘Wow, what is going on here? I want some of that’. It is not going to happen,” he said.
He said the YMCA’s location, in the centre of the inner City, provided the opportunity to reach children who needed the services. 
The general secretary said the association’s facilities were old and becoming run-down. Though uncertain about the age of the building, he said the YMCA had been occupying it since the 1940s, when, in his view, it was not a new building.
He said the building needed to be replaced completely since its condition did not lend itself to renovation.
“Some people may look at it and say, ‘It is a nice old building, why not fix it up?’ But [it] looks like a solid limestone building, but it is made of rubber wall and red brick,” Norgrove said.
He lamented that many skills classes, such as cooking and pastry making, as well as academic classes and sports programmes, were discontinued because of the condition of the facility.
Norgrove said the new plans envisaged efficient use of the space so as not to interfere with the cricket and football field.
He said the main facility would be the basketball court since basketball continued to be an important part of the YMCA. In spite of the condition of the facility at the “Y”, Norgrove said, it is still used almost daily for local basketball games both at national and school level. 
In addition to the physical development, the expansion of academic and skills training programmes was also proposed.
Norgrove said that fundraising efforts for the new facility started over a year ago.
“We have not kicked into high gear in terms of fundraising. We are seeking first to get approval for the plans from the Town and Country Planning Department, so [we] can go to the public with something concrete,” Norgrove said.
Norgrove also said that since the YMCA had played such an integral role in the development of young people, “we are really going to be leaning heavily on Barbadians who have a heart for the future of the society and its development”.
In terms of the near future, the “Y” will this summer offer an early childhood learning intervention programme (ECLIPS) targeting pre-Common Entrance Examination students who are experiencing difficulties in coping with the academic requirements, Norgrove said.
That will supplement the literacy intervention programme for teenage children who have learning difficulties.
“[We] need to take care of other social issues and behavioural problems which make it difficult to teach them academics, so the ECLIPS will deal with the early childhood before it reaches that stage,” Norgrove said.

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