Plano Star-courier > News
YMCA name change hoped to expand Plano membership
Kelsey Kruzich / Staff photos -- Russell Creek YMCA, now known as Plano Family YMCA, hopes to cast a wider net over the community with a new name and a full schedule of outreach programs aimed at communities throughout the city.
For the past 47 years, the YMCA has been a Plano fixture.
The club's origins in the city go back to 1966, when it began operating as an extension of the Richardson YMCA. In 1973, the Y moved into its first permanent location on Glencliff Drive, a facility now known as the city of Plano's Liberty Recreation Center.
In 2000, the facility moved to the Legacy Park neighborhood, and a location in the Russell Creek area opened six years later. The Legacy Park location closed in 2010, leaving Russell Creek as the only YMCA facility in Plano.
Now, the club is looking to boost its profile in the city by renaming its remaining facility the Plano Family YMCA, said Jayson Killough, vice president of operations.
"What we've seen is the broader community hasn't always identified with Russell Creek, and so going to Plano Family YMCA has such a broader reach," he said. "We don't want folks to miss out on the opportunity to participate in the Y or know that the Y is in the community."
To celebrate, the Y held an unveiling ceremony Thursday morning, complete with snacks, bounce houses, family fitness activities and giveaways. About 75 people showed up for the event, Killough said.
The 30,000-square-foot building features a fitness center, two group exercise spaces, a spin cycle room, a family-sized gym, an on-site preschool with the capacity for 63 children and a child watch area for exercising parents.
But it has been the Y's legacy, not its amenities, that have kept the club alive for the past 47 years, Killough said.
"Anywhere I go in the community ... there's always someone that you meet that has a history with the Plano Y, and a lot of those go back to folks that were part of the Guides and Princesses program," he said. "That, at one time, was the largest Guides and Princesses program in the country, and so our reach from that program has been tremendous over that 47 years, and folks are tied to us in that way."
As a part of the facility's re-launching, the Y will ramp up its outreach efforts, starting with a spring initiative to bring soccer programs to under-served communities in Plano.
"I think now we are really beginning to spread our wings and reach out further than we have probably in the last 10 years," Killough said. "We have not been secluded, but we have been very much focused internally around doing things within the four walls of the Y, and the Y's about much more than that. The Y's about getting out in the community and actually taking the services we provide and bringing it to those in that community that might not be able to come to us otherwise."
The club will also go to different apartment complexes in the city to teach children how to swim at no cost. The goal is to teach 500 children to swim this summer, Killough said.
"The Y knows that the risk that's associated with kids being around un-lifeguarded pools during the summer is tremendous, and every year there are kids who drown in apartment complex pools, so we are trying to provide a resource to those apartment communities to again minimize that risk that is there, and to just teach more kids how to swim," he said.
Ralph Stow, a member of the Plano YMCA's board of directors for the past 17 years, said the board has referred to the name change as a "return to our roots."
"This was always planned to be the Plano Family YMCA," he said, "and the name 'Russell Creek' -- while it certainly denotes where we are and the nearby community we serve -- the YMCA as a whole, through its programs and facilities, really services the entire city and area of Plano."
The Y is also initiating a membership push this month, cutting the dollar amount of the joiner fee down to whatever day of the month a resident signs up. For example, if a resident signs up Jan. 6, their joiner fee would be $6. The club is also offering 47 days of free membership to former members.