By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
METROsquash, an after-school program in Hyde Park that uses the sport of squash as a vehicle for its students to excel physically and academically, has outgrown its current location and is working toward securing a new facility.
Over the past eight years METROsquash has served more than 150 students in 5th through 12th grade from schools across the city, including Kozminski Elementary, 936 E. 54th St., and Reavis Elementary, 834 E. 50th St.
The program meets in its academic space at University Church, 5655 S. University Ave., for homework and tutoring services, and then students head over to a gym at the University of Chicago for squash practice.
“Transitioning from one space to another with so many students, especially in the winter, takes a long time,” said David Kay, executive director of METROsquash. “The program has grown to 150 students so we have out-grown the space we’re in.”
He said that the lack of space has also inhibited the addition of new school partnerships.
METROsquash has found a new location in the Grove Parc Apartments that are being rebuilt between the 6100 block and the 6300 block of Cottage Grove Avenue.
The new location can hold at least 300 students, both study time and squash practice can take place at one location, time constraints will not get in the way of learning and, most importantly, the building will be a “safe haven” for kids, said Kay.
“[Students] can come in anytime they feel threatened or unsafe,” Kay said.
The program is wrapping up its yearlong fundraising campaign. The goal is $8 million. So far it has raised a little over $1 million and is requesting community support to reach its goal. The program’s lease is $1 for 99 years. Kay said the fundraiser is for equipment and other program resources.
For more information, visit metrosquash.org.