I had the pleasure of walking through the Methuen YMCA a few days ago and sitting with the Executive Director Anne Whalen to learn about the facility that I look at on a daily basis through my office window. It is amazing to be so close to the Methuen YMCA but have no idea of the amazing programs they have available to Merrimack Valley Families. Since I was so impressed with what Anne has done, I thought I would share with all of you all that the Methuen YMCA offers.

The Methuen branch of the Merrimack Valley YMCA opened in 2003 after renovating the former Stephen Barker Elementary School into the building we see today. The center now has a toddler, preschool and school age child care center, a gymnasium, a teen center and a wellness center with a complete Nautilus strength training circuit, treadmills, elliptical trainers and life cycles.

The Preschool Child Care center at the Methuen YMCA provides full day care enrichment programs for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners. The programs address the individual interests and abilities of the each child by focusing on emotional, physical and cognitive areas of development as well as arts & crafts, dramatic play, games, gym time, music, outdoor play and nutritional meals. I was able to peak into the toddlers and preschoolers and was immediately taken by the children as they all worked together with the teacher in the classroom activities. The preschool room was sectioned off into different areas of interest so that each child has an opportunity to learn as much as they can.

The School Age Child Care programs at the Methuen YMCA are for ages 5-12 and offers a variety of activities to promote learning and fun through sports, games, arts & crafts, and homework assistance. Transportation is provided from the Methuen School and full day programs are available during holidays and school vacations. This program provides a safe environment for children and peace of mind for parents while they work. The summer “School is Out” program is an all day youth development program during the summer months that include field trips, swimming, art, sports, tournaments and community service opportunities.

The Methuen YMCA has many youth programs including sports, art, cooking, science, dances and kids night out. Special events that include the family are Family Nights, Healthy Kids Day, Touch A Truck (which is coming up on May 19th!), Trunk or Treat, Breakfast with Santa, Valentine’s Day Dance, Recycling Events and Blood Drives.

The Teen Center is a safe place where teens ages 13-18 can come after school with access to pool tables, ping pong games, video games, computers and homework assistance. During the summer there are frequent trips to the Lawrence YMCA pool and Music Clubhouse plus trips to amusement parks, laser tag, mini gold and more!

I think the most important program that I learned about is the program Anne Whalen has brought to the Methuen YMCA that is for parents, friends, brothers, sisters, teachers, everyone! It is called Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children and it is a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention training program for adults in the Merrimack Valley. It is the only evidence based child sexual abuse prevention training proven effective in educating adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. It is SO important to have everyone in the community come to this training and help protect the helpless children who are suffering or are at risk of becoming a victim. We, the Merrimack Valley Adults, need to know how to prevent this and keep the children out of harm’s way. The next training at the Methuen YMCA is Tuesday, April 10, 2012 from 6-8:00 pm. It is a free training, please RSVP to 978-683-5266 or at www.mvymca.org.

*for other training dates please refer to the www.mvymca.org website.