By Matt de Simone
The Botetourt YMCA Early Learning Center (ELC) officially opened its doors holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Botetourt Family YMCA in Daleville last Friday.
Earlier this year, the Rockbridge Area YMCA launched the first ELC in the Blue Ridge region. Soon after the project was announced for Rockbridge, staff leaders of Botetourt’s YMCA inquired about opening an ELC.
The ELC is located in the former conference room and an auxiliary playroom utilized in the facility’s “Stay and Play” room. The learning center features a play area, desks, and walls filled with educational imagery.
During the ceremony, Botetourt Family YMCA Branch Executive Director Rob Lough welcomed guests and visitors. He explained the Y’s involvement within the community, more notably, their involvement with local schools in developing programs for the youth.
“No matter what challenges face our communities, country, and our world, education is going to be part of the solution,” Lough said during the ceremony.
Lough explained the power, hope, and possibilities of education and how it transforms a community noting that the ELC was created from a group effort of individuals.
He thanked the Botetourt YMCA’s Board of Directors, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Khari Ryder, the United Way, and the staff at the Y for their help in making Botetourt’s ELC a reality.
YMCA of Virginia’s Blue Ridge CEO Mark Johnson spoke about his initial meeting with Botetourt community activist and former School Board member John Alderson over a cup of coffee. That first meeting spawned the YMCA eventually coming to Botetourt County in 2019. From there, Johnson mentioned his joy in adding the ELC and working with the individuals responsible for bringing the educational facility to the Daleville Y.
“Today is a realization of the Y and the partnership in this community keeping the promise that [the YMCA becomes so much more than a wellness center],” Johnson noted before the ribbon-cutting.
The ELC provides a safe and welcoming environment that focuses on developing essential physical, cognitive, social, and emotional skills through creative play and hands-on experiences with the focus on building the four Y core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.
All staff members are trained in First Aid/CPR, management of communicable disease, and recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect.
For more information and how to register, please visit https://ymcavbr.org/bocoearlylearningcenter.