EARLY YEARS: YMCA’s Beacon Reset Summer program offers free enrichment activities for middle schoolers

It runs June 20th through August 10th
Gym time, swimming, field trips and more are available for free
Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 5:31 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Like other YMCA branches, the Gainsboro chapter in Roanoke has long served the needs of young students. But in 2019, it came up with a plan to do more.

”We’ve been serving elementary school kids for years at the YMCA. We really felt like there was a great need for some support for middle school kids,” says Gainsboro YMCA Branch Executive Jonathan Pait.

After a community survey and a workshop with Addison Middle School students, Pait says the Beacon Initiative launched as a pilot program last spring with about 18 kids.

“We had community partners that came in. We had Mill Mountain Theatre came in and did some workshops. The science museum came in. The Jefferson Center came in and did some music lab work with the kids,” says Pait.

The after-school program has since expanded to James Madison Middle. Now, rising 6th through 8th graders can enjoy the same amenities in the Beacon Reset Summer program.

“We have, as of this morning, we’ve got 21 kids, but we’re still getting a lot of applications coming in for that program,” says Pait.

It’s happening at the Gainsboro YMCA on Tuesdays and at Kirk Family YMCA on Thursdays. Kids also get a free membership to the Y during their time with the program.

“It’s really an incredible opportunity for the kids. We’re going to do some swim classes, some free swim, we’re going to do some gym time with them, group x instruction with them. We’re going to introduce them to pick ball, introduce them to Zumba,” says Pait.

Participants will also enjoy college field trips, along with cooking and gardening classes, swimming and more.

To find out more about the free YMCA Beacons Summer Reset program, call the Gainsboro YMCA at 540-344-9622. Or, you can click here to register, or just get more information.

It runs June 20 through August 10 from 3:30 to 6 pm.