Swimming, workout space, children’s and youth programs, youth sports and Camp Reed. These are just a few of the programs offered by YMCA of the Inland Northwest.
On April 18, the YMCA at Mirabeau Point in Spokane Valley will celebrate a new program with the grand opening of their Green Way program and on-site greenhouse.
The Green Way program aims to get people of all ages and abilities back in touch with soil and plants and rediscover the joy of growing things.
“We need to get the kids away from the video games and back into nature,” said Ann Jackson-Avery, the program director and certified horticulture therapy assistant. “It is going to be a program where we have plant- and horticultural-related activities for kids, seniors, people in wheelchairs, at-risk youth; anybody really can join us.”
The program will be housed in the new greenhouse on the north edge of the YMCA’s campus. Built with financial help from the Spokane Valley Sunrise Chapter of Rotary International and local businesses and community members, Jackson-Avery, YMCA staff and volunteers spent the winter building the 30- by 48-foot structure and planting the first crops of annuals and vegetables.
“People will be able to learn about everything from the naming of plants, growing things in mini-greenhouses, starting vegetables and flowers and working with indoor plants,” Jackson-Avery said.
Because the greenhouse is at the edge of the YMCA campus, it’s only a few steps from native trees and grasses of the rocky area behind the YMCA. Jackson-Avery is working with students from the Barker Center to develop a nature trail and native plant identification area.
The first programs in the new greenhouse have already started with a series of indoor garden craft classes that let people explore plants and nature as they make colorful and creative projects. The next class will be May 1 to make flower-pot picture frames.
Throughout the rest of the year, Jackson-Avery is planning seasonal horticulture projects that will let people learn other garden crafts like forcing bulbs and branches, pressing flowers, making holiday wreaths and leaf prints. There will be ongoing projects to grow annuals, vegetables and houseplants from seeds and cuttings to teach people propagating skills.
During the summer and after school, students in the Y’s day camp and after-school program will be able to spend time in the greenhouse. Jackson-Avery also wants to develop hands-on programs for school groups, home-school families, people with disabilities and at-risk youths.
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