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Northwoods YMCA opens new youth development center

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Rhinelander, Wis. (WAOW) -- The YMCA of the Northwoods unveiled its recent expansion Tuesday.

The expansion has been in the works since 2018, when officials at the Y were looking to aid economic expansion and community development in the area.

Ryan Zietlow, the CEO of the Northwoods Y, said they identified lack of childcare as a major hindrance to that effort.

"It really became apparent early on that child care was one of the core critical needs that we face," he said.

Oneida County is considered a child care desert, meaning there aren't enough care options for young families. The Y's new facility is hoping to change that.

Shannon Nelson, an area mom, said she's grateful for the care the Y offers, and excited to utilize the new facility.

"To be able to walk through those doors with my own children, we easily feel a sense of calm knowing they're in a great place with great people," she said.

The building will have an early learning program for ages six weeks to five years. It will also host school age children for before and after school programs. The building has classrooms for each age group, a full gymnasium and a playground outside.

Zietlow says it will be better suited for childcare in the age of COVID-19.

"By coming into this location it is a great open spacious facility that, through some fast-track renovations, we were able to get the core function of our childcare center moved over," he said.

He also said the new building will hopefully allow for more opportunities to expand programming in the future. For now, they're still working on meeting their $2 million goal for the project.

Natalie Sopyla

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