Shared space facilities are becoming more common in community recreation, and the YMCA of Greater Louisville has used this principle to their advantage greatly. Completed in 2016, the YMCA at Norton Commons became a first-of-its-kind facility in the state of Kentucky: a YMCA and an elementary school under one roof.
While unconventional, this shared space facility has been very well-received, as both the fitness center and elementary school are able to cover a continuum of services for members of all ages in a convenient location.
For more insight on the unique partnership between the YMCA and elementary school at Norton Commons, we spoke with Mike Bramer, a district executive director with the YMCA of Greater Louisville:
What led to the decision to combine a YMCA with an elementary school?
MB: Norton Commons is one of the few communities around the country with an elementary school attached to a YMCA. We wanted to provide a facility that’s a great resource for any community — our organization is always investing a significant amount of resources because we know it’s needed and people deserve it. It’s a cutting-edge facility delivering programs that meets so many young people’s needs.
What are the benefits of this shared space? What role does the facility play in wellness?
MB: We can provide tutoring, childcare and other services for the school. This allows the school to focus on education, and not have the distraction of the extracurricular activities that are typically handled by teachers and administrators staff. For instance, our YMCA handles the school’s cross-country programming, after school programs, various clinics and even swim lessons. We also have a lot of group fitness classes and a lot of social things for members and youth, because it’s about more than just getting on a treadmill for everybody to be healthy.
The building is also constantly being used. Most school buildings sit dark on the weekends, but the Norton Commons Y gets used pretty much every day from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. – the whole space is really open and vibrant.
How has this facility helped the Louisville Y expand its health and wellness offerings?
MB: We’re having a huge impact on the community with all these services under one roof. We’re seeing it’s very positive — going to the Y is a fun thing for a lot of people. I think this facility will hopefully raise everybody’s quality of life and be an example for how other facilities can do the same.
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