story & photo by Marjorie Turner Hollman, Contributing Writer
The Keough Memorial Academy, serving students in Bellingham and surrounding communities from grades 7-12 who struggle with emotional and learning needs, recently moved into the old Keough School building on Harpin street. The facility was not well set up to provide for physical education for the students, and so school officials reached out to the Y for help in solving this issue.
The Hockomock YMCA agreed to provide a program tailored to the student’s needs, giving each student a full Y membership so students are able to take part in numerous activities offered at the Y in Franklin. Kim Jennings, Director of Children’s services at the Y noted that “the students are able to take Zumba classes, yoga, weight training, personal training, and any other program we have at the Y.” But getting the students back and forth daily from the school to the Y was complicated and expensive.
At the same time, the Y was looking to replace some of its vans, and found it had an extra van, which it offered to donate to the school department. Kim Jennings, Director of children’s Services at the Y, was instrumental in making this donation happen. Now the van travels back and forth from Keough to the Y, bringing a separate grade to the Y each day for physical education opportunities.
Jennings explained, “Keough had a need so we worked with the school department and donated the extra van that we had. We learned the school had a need and we had the opportunity. We collaborated to make this program come alive for the children. Together we have created a program that is helping change the lives of the Keough children.”
David Cutler, Principal of Keough Academy, noted, “Through our partnership with the Y, students are learning lessons that will benefit them well beyond the confines of school - things like having a positive body image.” He continued, “This is a great opportunity, and the students are seizing it.”
The van has been used for Bellingham High school field trips as well, and has become an invaluable resource for the school department.