North Suburban YMCA Raises Money for Strong Kids, Youth Fitness Center

The North Suburban YMCA Northbrook IL is raising 300000 to turn an unfinished room pictured into a wellness center for kids and families Photo courtesy of the North Suburban YMCA
The North Suburban YMCA, Northbrook, IL, is raising $300,000 to turn an unfinished room (pictured) into a wellness center for kids and families. <i>Photo courtesy of the North Suburban YMCA.</i></p>

The North Suburban YMCA, Northbrook, IL, is hoping one fundraising success will lead to another.

Last week, the Y held a fundraising dinner and auction for its Strong Kids Financial Assistance Fund and raised $253,000, the most the facility has ever raised through the annual event.

The Y is hoping that fundraising momentum will benefit another project, says Ali Friduss, director of marketing and communications for the North Suburban Y. The Y is currently trying to raise $300,000 to convert an existing room into a youth and family wellness center to help fight childhood obesity.

The facility was left with the 800-square-foot room after a renovation last year. After brainstorming potential uses for the space, the Y decided to convert it into a youth and family wellness center. The facility received a challenge grant from an anonymous local donor that will provide them with $75,000 and match up to $75,000 of what the Y raises.

The center will feature kid-friendly fitness equipment such as jump ropes, speed ladders, plyo boxes and a TRX Suspension Training system, as well as cardio equipment designed for children. It also would house group exercise classes for kids and programs for members with disabilities.

Friduss says the Y thinks the center can help fight childhood obesity in the communtiy and motivate kids to stay healthy, which can be a struggle.

"No problem getting the adults in the building to exercise, but the kids, how do you keep them engaged, especially during the winter?" Friduss says.

Keeping kids engaged is especially challenging because it can be hard to find space for youth programming and risky to let kids into the main exercise area, says Casey Schmit, youth and adult fitness director for the facility.

The North Suburban Y hopes to finish the center by next fall. Although Friduss admits fundraising can be difficult in the current economic climate, she is confident the Y will the raise the money necessary to complete the center, especially after the success of last week's fundraiser.

"We're fighters," Friduss says. "We leave a big footprint, and we help a lot of people."

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