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Y expands youth fitness opportunities

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News / October 01, 2020

The South Boston/Halifax County YMCA has been growing its list of available programs for area youth, recently adding outdoor soccer and a lifestyle program named Girls On The Run.

The cool thing about both of these programs is they allow kids to get back out and enjoy sports and fitness, all while maintaining COVID-19 guidelines. And with that has come the opportunity for the community to rediscover some type of normalcy in life.

The Y held its first outdoor soccer matches recently to great success. Kristen Zerbato, executive director of the local YMCA, said player participation was high as was the number of people who came out to watch the games.

“I’m so very grateful to be able offer youth soccer for kids ages three-18 years old,” Zerbato said. “It’s so very important we keep kids (and adults) moving, now more than ever after the last seven months of COVID and the lack of activity, which can affect you emotionally as well as physically.”

Zerbato expressed that it was good to see kids, “out and moving,” at the games. She also noted the socialization factors that the soccer league provides — it was good for kids to get out of the virtual world sometimes.

With schools going online, Zerbato understands youths are missing out on so much socially. The league plays games on Saturdays, while the rest of the week is set aside for team practices. Teams currently play in a three-on-three of four-on-four format.

“It was so beautiful to watch them all interacting and engaging with each other,” Zerbato said. “Lots of smiles.”

The outdoor soccer league at the Y is seeing a resurgence after several area youth-soccer organizations didn’t offer fall sports. One of those organizations was the AYSO soccer league; several participants from that league now play with the Y.

Zerbato said the size of the soccer program this year was stunning, in comparison to years past.

“This is the first time in decades that the Y has had an outdoor league this large and engaged,” she said. “None of it would be possible without the help from all of the volunteers and head coach, Bertram Cuffley.”

The GOTR program also welcomed a great turnout on opening day. This is a program that features fitness through running and the learning of life skills for girls in grades 3-5. The curriculum includes three parts: “valuing ourselves, establishing healthy relationships, and understanding how to connect with and shape the world at large.” GOTR lessons focus on building social, emotional and physical skills in girls while encouraging healthy habits for life.

“Girls On The Run program started Monday, we have 11 girls (our cap was 12)” Zerbato exclaimed. “They had a great time. Parents sent us some great responses from the kids after the first day.

“I’m grateful and honored to be able to bring more opportunities like these to Halifax County,” Zerbato said. “Honestly, I don’t know how to put it into words how proud I am of this Y.”

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