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Thursday, August 18, 2022

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Safety, Assurance & Enrichment Found in YMCA Before & After School Enrichment Program

With all of the uncertainty surrounding school, two things are for sure — kids need to learn and parents need to work. As an organization dedicated to youth development, the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA knows how important it is for children to have a safe and enriching place for learning and growth. As many students transition back into schools, the Y is pleased to be able to provide them a safe space, allowing their invaluable social, emotional, physical and academic growth to continue long after the school day ends.

The Tampa YMCA’s Before and After School Enrichment (BASE) program focuses on nurturing a child’s development by providing a safe and healthy place to learn foundational skills for students in grades K-5. Kids develop healthy, trusting relationships and build self-reliance through the Y values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility during a range of activities, including:

  • Academic enrichment and homework assistance
  • Structured outdoor activities for physical activity
  • Engaging indoor activities
  • Free healthy snacks
  • Arts and crafts ​​​​

During BASE, the Tampa Y will continue to follow the same CDC guidelines its staff practiced during 22 consecutive weeks of Youth Relief Care and Summer Camp. The Y collaborated with Hillsborough County Public Schools, American Camp Association and the YMCA of the USA to create safety protocols, educational resources and tools for youth programs. Also engaged in the process was an independent expert panel with specialists in pediatric medicine, epidemiology, infectious disease management, biological safety and industrial hygiene.

In doing so, the Y was able to provide over 308,800 hours of safe fun to 7,720 total children during Youth Relief Care and 1,300 campers per day in Y Summer Camp. The Y will continue to keep kids safe by implementing the following safety guidelines:

  • For the safety and well-being of others in program, those running a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher cannot attend.
  • Face coverings are required for staff and participants indoors.
  • Access to hand washing and ample hand sanitizer, especially when entering program, before snacks and after restroom use.
  • Y staff will intentionally teach and encourage good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and follow a strict sick child/staff policy.
  • Significant disinfecting of supplies and activity areas.
  • Children will remain in their same groups throughout the week.
  • Spaced out activities to practice safe social distancing where possible when inside. Limited sharing of supplies.
  • TEXT to curbside pick-up at select sites.

“Our greatest concerns are our children, our families, our staff and our community’s health and well-being,” says BASE Executive Director Sarah Hays. “We will continue to monitor, evaluate and seek guidance from school district, government and health officials regarding our practices and will share any changes that might be necessary.”

“We are honored to have the ability and support to provide an equitable, safe learning environment for Tampa Bay’s children to grow and thrive, says Sarah. “As we navigate through this pandemic together, we will continue to look for ways the Y can best serve everyone in our community.”

To find the right BASE program for your family, choose from 26 Hillsborough County Public School sites or 3 YMCA locations at:

About the Author: As the senior communications director, Lalita Llerena oversees all internal and external communications for the Tampa YMCA and YMCA of the Suncoast. Before starting her public relations career, Lalita managed a 24-hour local TV news team as an executive producer. Prior to her nine years in the Tampa/St. Petersburg market, Lalita produced, reported and anchored for TV and radio outlets in Orlando and Gainesville. Lalita graduated with a communications degree from the University of Florida. She lives in Riverview with her husband, Danny, their daughter, Daniella, and son, Logan.


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