Champaign YMCA, IL
The new Stephens Family YMCA facility is a complete replacement of an existing 1930s building in the downtown core as the YMCA had outgrown its previous facility. Immediately adjacent to municipal park venues, the new site offers opportunities to partner with the city for outdoor programming and activities on existing ball fields and new fields developed as part of the project. Funded through generous donations from the local community, the YMCA and Larkin’s Place was able to provide a new 75,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility. Universal Design Standards were incorporated into every aspect of the design from the color palette, sensory rooms, therapy pool, art studios, and the country’s first accessible water slide, resulting in a calm and welcoming environment for multi-generational recreation to all. Larkin’s Place, a non-profit focused on providing recreation to families affected with disability, has a clearly defined mission statement: “We believe that everyone has a place. In this world. In this society. In this community.” It was a natural fit that the two non-profits teamed together to provide an inclusive destination serving the Champaign County area. Among the facility components are three indoor pool tanks, gymnasium, wellness center, child care and after-school classroom wing, teen center, multipurpose rooms, indoor walking/jogging track and exercise studios, and a 2-story indoor climbing wall. Through a remarkable partnership, the Stephens Family YMCA and Larkin’s Place have created a community center that welcomes all; wounded warriors, those with autism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, elderly, amputees, those recovering from surgery or cancer, have a home at the facility. Everyone in the Champaign County community uses the YMCA facility together, without separation or compartmentalization, leading to a stronger community through greater knowledge and understanding. The Stephens Family YMCA in association with Larkin’s Place is a shining example of what is possible when an entity has a goal and vision that is supported by strong leadership and an active population, making a dream a reality for the betterment of a community.