Many children enjoyed the delights of the YMCA Club play scheme over the summer, but the fun doesn’t have to end when they go back to school. Why not book your child onto one of our many after school clubs where they can learn a range of skills from art to trampolining? Muminur Jalil, Assistant Children and Young People Manager, gives us the lowdown…
What are your term-time courses?
Aikido (a form of martial art)
You’d be hard pressed to find such a wide range of after school clubs under one roof in London. Each class is 45 minutes except for swimming, which is 30 minutes.
Who can access this service?
Any child aged between 4 and 13 years old. It’s on a first come, first served basis.
Our children’s programme is one of the most diverse I’ve seen. Our services are not exclusive to the people who live in the area, though we do provide services to the local five state primary schools and one private school. We have children from all backgrounds – there’s a good social, ethnic and cultural mix. Anyone can access us. We also work with children who have learning or physical disabilities.
What’s the difference between the YMCA Club play scheme and the YMCA after school clubs?
Our term-time courses are about teaching children new skills, techniques, coordination and learning a sport or discipline. A child’s social development is also important to us. Our play schemes however, are more focused on having fun and playing games rather than skills development, so a basketball session on a term-time course will be very different from a basketball session during the play scheme.
Why is it important for kids to get active early?
A lot of gyms have primarily been set up for adults, but studies have found that when a child has been exposed to exercise and they incorporate it into their lifestyle at an early age, they are more likely to continue exercising into adulthood. As 4 to 12 year olds develop, our courses help them to become multi-skilled and their coordination improves. We provide everyone with a journey from a very young age into adulthood. Many children who’ve come through our programmes have become adult gym members, sometimes even staff. It’s amazing.
Will my child be in safe hands?
All of our coaches are qualified and very experienced in what they do. All staff have had DBS checks and have undertaken safeguarding training. We train staff to be the best version of themselves. It’s not just a tick box exercise about gaining first aid, coaching badges or youth qualifications, we operate a holistic approach and interact with every child effectively in every given situation. We make the most of the relationships we build with them.
Some parents are nervous, so they visit us first. A lot of worry stems from their child being in such a big facility with so many adults and so much going on. I reassure them that in the three years that I’ve worked here, we’ve never had a major incident, missing or seriously hurt child. We don’t have the bad behaviour, bullying or swearing that you can find in schools. We have processes in place which reassure parents such as registration and escorting children to the toilet.
Parents don’t have to disappear - they can wait in the café or observe the classes. Once parents know this, it helps to calm their nerves.
How do you recognise a child’s progress?
Sometimes a child progresses so well within their age group that they go up a class where the children are slightly older and are at a more advanced level. Friday Football for instance is predominantly for seven-year-olds, but some six-year-olds are also in the class because they’re playing football at a higher level than their age group.
What if my child wants to change courses?
Our term-time courses are a great way for children to discover different sports and skills. Parents can sign up their children for a different course after a term - they are not a yearly commitment. Ultimately, it’s the child who decides what sport they enjoy and what they want to pursue.
What happens after the course?
Each child learns, practises and takes it further if they want to. Some of our students who’ve learnt Street Dance at the Club have gone on to perform in the West End. I know of others who first learnt trampolining and basketball skills here as children and have become more advanced as adults. Our term time courses are not just about giving kids something to do after school, it’s about laying a foundation, which might become a lifelong passion.
What do you love most about your job?
I absolutely love it! The biggest draw for me is seeing children have fun, develop and enjoy themselves during our activities, which we’ve planned. I enjoy influencing a child’s health and fitness and developing them in sport and coordination. It really gives me that ‘feel good factor’. As stressful as it can be at times, my job is really rewarding.
Why do parents choose the YMCA Club’s term-time courses?
They love the variety of the activities that we provide for their children and the planning that goes into it. One of our selling points is our swimming pool - there’s not many play centres in central London where children can go swimming.
Their kids love it because our staff love it. Any time our staff run a session, they exude high energy levels, which mean the children are always active, always on their feet and always running around.
What’s your main message to the parents considering the YMCA Club’s term-time courses for their children?
Come and give us a go! We are the most enjoyable, varied and diverse play centre in central London. Other centres might specialise in swimming or trampolining for kids, but don’t do much else, whereas we’ve got the whole spectrum. The range of activities, level of our experience, and staff motivation and energy is unparalleled to any other organisation. We are the best at what we do!
How much are the courses?
There is an annual membership fee of £30 for every child (aged 4 to 12 years).
All courses are £100 per term except for swimming, which is £90.
How do I pay?
Please pay in person at Club Reception.
Call us on 0203 994 9600 or email us if you have any questions.