YMCA of the Prairie


Every week, the Orthman Community YMCA in Lexington and the YMCA at Gothenburg Health come alive with the laughter, chatter, and energy of a special group of individuals served by South Central Developmental Services. They go to the YMCA three times a week, fostering a sense of belonging and enhancing their overall well-being through physical activity and social engagement.

“Our mission is to provide the individuals we support with the same experiences that anyone else would have,” said Kathi Yeng, South Central’s Day Service Coordinator. “I enjoy my membership at the YMCA and so do they. It is as beneficial to them as it is for anyone to be healthy both physically and mentally.”

Participants of South Central visit the YMCA in Lexington at least three times, and on Wednesdays, they make a special trip to the Gothenburg Y for swimming and other activities. The program supports 14 individuals between the ages of 28 and 70. These outings have become a highlight of their weekly routine, providing them with opportunities to engage in a variety of activities.

While at the YMCA, participants have the freedom to choose activities that interest them. Some prefer using the equipment for their workouts, but the majority enjoy walking on the track and shooting hoops. The social area, where they can sit down with a cup of coffee or water and chat, is another favorite spot. These visits typically last for a few hours, giving participants ample time to enjoy both physical exercise and social interaction.

The South Central group has been enjoying these YMCA visits for about three years.

“They look forward to the experience,” Kathi said. “They sign up on our activity board for the activity of their choice, and the YMCA is one of their favorites. It aids in their weight control, supports communication and social interactions, as well as independence.”
Regular exercise at the YMCA helps participants manage their weight and improve their physical fitness. Just as importantly, these visits foster vital social interactions and a sense of community. Participants enjoy being part of a broader community, interacting with others, and feeling included in communal spaces.

“We appreciate having the YMCA in our area where we can all belong to our community,” Kathi said.
This partnership not only benefits the participants but also enriches the community as a whole, promoting inclusivity and shared experiences.

In the bustling spaces of the YMCA, the participants of South Central Developmental Services find more than just a place to exercise; they find a place where they belong, where their well-being is nurtured, and where they can experience the joy of being part of a community.