Before opening its brand-new facility in March 2012—now the first all-inclusive community recreation center in the nation—the Champaign County YMCA was literally operating in an old home. While the building was large, it was old and in need of repairs, and the Y was also leasing another facility. Working out of two locations was proving challenging, says COO Kim Webb, and attempts at successful capital campaigns had failed.
“Our staff time and resources were spread, and there was not much space to expand—unless we expanded into the parking lot,” says Kim. The Y considered a complete renovation, but when they received a gift of land from a local hospital, they turned to Daxko T2 Consulting for strategic planning guidance, feasibility studies, and facility design and development to begin planning for its new home.
A PLACE FOR ALL
Through 1,000+ phone calls, Daxko’s membership consulting group “began asking ‘What does the community want?’” says Kim. “Daxko was a driving force. They made recommendations from the data they gathered, and we were able to make informed decisions when we looked at membership rates and how we structure programs. We’d never been through a process like this.”
“The Daxko T2 team impressed us with their experience and background. We laid out strategic goals and sought creative partnerships,” Kim says. The Y and Daxko’s team also began to coordinate with member Amy Armstrong and her group, Larkin’s Place, a place where those with disabilities, including Amy’s daughter Larkin, could come and enjoy recreational activities alongside members of the community. Amy’s vision stemmed from a growing need to provide a contained and safe environment for those with disabilities—essentially, a “place” where her daughter Larkin could go for security.
Daxko worked with Champaign County’s local architect to ensure universal design and accessibility. “Daxko and Amy guided us to the kind of facility we needed, and opened the door for us to be the first all-inclusive recreation center in the nation.”
With natural light, soft colors, wide hallways, and rubber flooring, the new facility meets not only the needs of disabled individuals but of the older population, as well. The Y also features sensory rooms, therapeutic rooms, and dedicated space for parents and caregivers to work one-on-one with children. Even the facility’s waterslide is accessible to all.
A COMMUNITY WITHIN A COMMUNITY
“Inclusion is a big piece, and it’s important our programming is inclusionary,” says Kim. “We planned to roll out specific programs that are designed to be inclusionary, but it began happening organically without any specific programs in place.”
In anticipation of its new facility grand opening, the Y saw a “huge growth in membership in a short amount of time,” says Kim, adding that the number of member units had doubled by the beginning of 2012. Camp registrations have also doubled, and Kim reports programs are growing and volunteers have increased.
“This is a facility where everyone can come together, and we’re reaching a community within our community. We’ve been able to attract people we would have never attracted before, because we’re serving the community the way it needs to be served.”
To learn more about Daxko’s T2 Consulting Services, please visit daxko.com/t2 .