Lincoln Academy Alternative Education students with CLC YMCA pre-K teacher Sally Farrell (top left) and her students, who dressed up for Halloween.

For the past three years, the CLC YMCA has allowed Lincoln Academy’s Alternative Education students to utilize the Y facilities during winter months in exchange for the students’ volunteer service.

In the past, service projects have included construction and maintenance of trails behind the Y, and other volunteer work on facilities and grounds. Starting in September of 2018, Alternative Education students have had the opportunity to volunteer​ ​in the YMCA’s new pre-kindergarten program.

“This connection has benefited both the high school students and preschoolers,” said Luke Suttmeier, Director of the LA Alternative Education program. One group of LA students spends several hours hours every other Wednesday morning playing games, doing art and reading stories with the pre-K kids at the YMCA. Another group helps with lunch clean up and nap preparation for the preschoolers.

Both the preschoolers and high schoolers look forward to their time together. “It’s fun to go over there and socialize with the younger pre-K students and help make their day more enjoyable and give them something to look forward to,” says senior Wyatt Poland.

Senior Zoe Cowan added, “I think it’s fun to be able to spend the day with the little kids. The kids remember us and they get so excited to see us.”

On Halloween the high school students helped the preschoolers trick or treat for healthy snacks within the offices at the YMCA, according to CLC YMCApre-kindergarten teacher Sally Farrell, who added, “already the kids are forming special bonds with each other.”

“This is a win-win for both programs, said Suttmeier. “We are fortunate to be able to bring these kids together, and getting to use the Y facilities is an added bonus.”