JIS News

Located at the busy intersection of Hope and Trafalgar Roads, the Kingston YMCA over the years, has had its share of trespassers, especially around the area of the pools. This became a major source of concern for both management and users alike.
The fencing around the area, which initially had been erected to stave off problems associated with trespassing, had fallen into disrepair, allowing for trespassers to access and even frolic in the pools, much to the dismay of the YMCA staff, who in turn, had to become increasingly vigilant to prevent any accidental drowning.
This situation changed early this summer at the premier swimming institution, which can trace its involvement in aquatics from the early 1930s, when it facilitated a water polo team.
The Sport Development Foundation (SDF) responded to a written request by Sarah Newland-Martin, General Secretary of the Kingston YMCA, to assist in the repair and in some cases, the erection of new fencing around the two pools, as well as by the entrance to the compound.
As Mrs. Newland-Martin remembers it, the YMCA approached the SDF two years ago out of the necessity to address the dilemma. At the time, the General Secretary tells JIS News, a response was received stating that the 84 year-old institution had been added on a waiting list, and once funds were available, their request would be considered.
“About six months ago, we got a call and then during the summer of this year, we were notified that persons from the SDF were coming in to assist,” she recalls.
With the estimates from various contractors submitted, the project got underway in mid June, and was completed by the end of July, while summer camp was in full session.
“The contractor [Guardian Fence Systems] worked around us, so there was really no challenge. Activities continued and we were doing swimming just the same. Overall, they were able to work without obstructing any of our programmes,” the General Secretary points out.
The improvements were effected at a record pace at a cost of $325,000. The fence that surrounded the entire area of the pools was improved immensely. “There was some fencing there that had the proper structure, but just needed reinforcements, while some areas required new fencing” Mrs. Newland-Martin explains.
As a finishing touch, barbwires were affixed to the top of the entire fence surrounding the pool to deter persons from scaling it. “Nobody can actually jump over the fence, so we are better able to monitor everything from that aspect,” Ricardo Gordon, Programme Director for the Kingston YMCA informs JIS News.
“The improvements have helped us in a big way in the sense that, we are now able to better monitor the flow of traffic in the area of the pools and on to the compound. It is one way in and out, because we are now able to lock all the other gates,” he adds.
With the new atmosphere created by the fence, which has a brand new silver coating in some areas, Mr. Gordon says that the YMCA felt compelled to improve the area around the pools by adding more plants and grass for beautification purposes.
For the persons who are affiliated with the Kingston YMCA, the expression of appreciation is evident. According to both Mr. Gordon and the General Secretary, the users of the facility are generous in their praise about the improvements made to ensure their safety on the premises.
“Persons are very pleased and congratulating us on the new look, especially by the poolside. They also feel more secure now that the place is better controlled as it pertains to who enters the compound, especially around the pool area, which opens from 5:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. at nights,” Mrs. Newland-Martin says.
“I had to write to the SDF expressing our appreciation for the way in which they helped us,” she adds.
When asked about the next item on the agenda in terms of improvements, the General Secretary says that there is need for new lane markers, and also for repair work on the pools, due to erosion of the material located on the bottom of them.
These improvements, she points out, will facilitate the further development of the swimming programme. Currently, the YMCA organises two development swim meets, one of which, the Learn to Swim Programme, accommodates over 1,000 children from nearly 30 schools.
“We want to develop swim meets to accommodate the younger age group,” Mrs. Newland-Martin says.The SDF, which was launched in 1995, is committed to help build the nation through sports and, is sustained by the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund.

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