Ridgway YMCA in the process of renovating

Artist Conception for a rock wall at the YMCA — used with the permission of Mary Lynne Bellotti
Brian Stockman
Staff Writer

It was another busy day for Mary Lynne Bellotti, executive director of the Ridgway YMCA, as she showed off the ongoing renovations designed to finally bring a play area inside the YMCA dedicated to toddlers, preschoolers and other children up to 8 years old. 
"That group was one we really lacked age-appropriate spaces for," said Bellotti. "So when the opportunity presented itself we really researched what was available to help fulfill the core goals of the YMCA."
Belotti went on to explain that the "Y" is a cause-driven organization that is for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. 
As part of this latest renovation, one of the two racquetball courts on the second floor was removed and the space is being transformed into a kid-friendly environment, including adding a window to allow in plenty of natural light. A "rock wall" will be the centerpiece, along with a "net climb"  "swing walk" and crawl-through structures designed for their age group.
Through a generous grant from The Frank Varischetti Foundation, this $80,000 project will allow toddlers through kindergarteners a play space all for them.
The tentative date for opening these new areas, including a much smaller one on the first floor is mid to late February.
Along with having space for these children to play and exercise, "Increased hand-eye coordination, along with strong fingers helps children learn to read and write more easily," said Bellotti. The YMCA will also have "Child Watch" which means there will also be an adult in these new spaces to make sure children are safe.  Stressing that this is not a baby-sitter-daycare situation, Belloti said, "...it will enable parents to be able to come in and work out on their own exercise routines, such as attend a yoga class, while knowing their children are safe and protected just a floor or so away."