State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie
The Southside YMCA invited me to tour the recently renovated facility, check out their summer programs, and offer me a thank-you card for my years of service in Springfield.
They chose Thursday, July 12 because it’s National Summer Learning Day. Watching the children work on projects, from the day campers figuring out the catapult, to the day care crowd investigating legos made my day. There were too many day campers to count, but they worked industriously in groups of eight or ten.
The pre-school program uses a mixture of Head Start and state early learning funds to provide working parents with full-day care for their children. The facility has room for about 45 youngsters at any given time, and it operates in the school year as well as during the summer months.
In conjunction with IIT, Southside Y operates a special summer program, for approximately 12 girls, who are learning the ropes in science, education, math and technology. They work on their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon when they join the other day campers for swim time and outdoor play.
This YMCA is a full service operation. There are baby-sitting services for moms and dads who want to use the workout facilities; there’s a Silver Sneakers program for seniors who want to stay fit. And after-school programs for children continue throughout the academic year.
The Y works closely with other organizations in the community, opening their doors to other programs and avoiding service overlap. They also work closely with the Chicago Food Depository. The third Tuesday of every month features an abundant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Depository—the whole community is welcome to pick up a share of the goodies and enjoy them at home.
I was impressed with the staff. Cherese Ledet is in charge of the whole operation. She has able assistants: Stanley Wilkerson is the director of youth development; Kenne Jefferson is the member experience director; and Bobbie Dickens is in charge of child care. We also met with Jill Edelblute, senior director of government relations for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.
If you haven’t stopped by the Southside Y lately, I suggest you give it a look. It’s in the heart of the south side, at 63rd and Stony Island Avenue. It offers a full range of programs and activities for all ages and interests. And I’m delighted it’s in the 25th District, the one I represent