New YMCA to be first of its kind in the U.S.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s the first of its kind in the country and it’s coming to West Michigan.

The new YMCA, approved by Cascade Township last week, will be built at the southwest corner of Kraft and Burton.

Plans for the new YMCA show a universal design, meaning it will offer the same facilities for those with and without disabilities.

The president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, Ron Nelson said it’s the only YMCA of its kind in the country.

“We’re going to dedicate one full size gymnasium for wheelchair sports,” Nelson said.

The new YMCA will also offer private spaces to work with caregivers and a new pool design to allow swimmers to get in and out independently.

Nelson said there will be a hard surface softball field where both kids and adults who use wheelchairs can play.

The new facility will feature a farm, greenhouse and teaching kitchens.

The entire design is geared towards making it more accessible for everyone.

“There will be soccer fields, outdoor fields where someone may just want to be a spectator or they may want to use the gardens themselves, they might be a wheelchair athlete in the Fifth Third River Bank Run and they want to learn how to fuel their bodies,” Nelson said.

The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids hopes the new YMCA will serve as a model for other facilities across the country.

“I’m sure we’ll have a lot of people who will want to see what we have to offer,” Nelson said. “That was one of our reasons for doing this, we do think it’s important and we would like to see it expanded across the country.’

The new YMCA is expected to open in October 2015.

The YMCA is currently working to raise $22 million for the project.

The YMCA recently announced that it is increasing its membership costs next month, but fees are not set to increase again when the new facility opens.

If you’d like to become a member but cannot afford the fees, there are programs to help.

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