Before there was a Children’s Center, there was a need. In 1982, parents asked the McGaw YMCA for a physically active preschool option for 3 year olds. Parent and volunteer Vickie Burke stepped up to begin the “Just for 3s” program. The twice-weekly gym-and-swim program started with nine children but quickly doubled in size. Then, parents asked for a 4-year-old option, followed by a program for 5s, and “Discovery Preschool” was born.
Within three years, Discovery Preschool had almost 80 children and offered Lunch Bunch and Enrichment Mondays to extend the programming. The “Alive with 5s” participated in a pilot program with National Louis University, and was recognized as a model Kindergarten program by the NAEYC. But Discovery Preschool had taken up every available space in the McGaw YMCA building.
So, by the fall of 1987, Discovery Preschool moved to the building owned by St. Mary Parish across Lake Street from the McGaw building. The center’s name was changed to the Children’s Center several years later, and expanded its services to include full-day and part-day options serving infants, toddlers, preschool and school-age students.
To learn more about the McGaw YMCA history, click here.