The YMCA keeps residents healthy and engaged in more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the country, but it traces its American origins to the streets of 19th-century Boston. Here, Thomas Valentine Sullivan carried on the mission started in London by George Williams: providing affordable recreation and residence to young men from cities and country towns alike. Over the last century and change, the organization's mission changed to keep pace with the evolving times; today, the YMCA of Greater Boston welcomes anyone interested in furthering the causes of "youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility."
This modern mission combines the Y's signature programming with new initiatives designed to keep citizens one step ahead of an ever-changing world. Members stay fit and active with everything from organized sports and fitness classes to lifeguard, CPR, and first aid lessons. But the Y's developmental programs go far beyond bodily strength; their enrichment and leadership courses equip youths with the confidence needed to take charge in their everyday lives, and ESL classes help newcomers to English embark on the next step of their linguistic lives.
With a springy-cork floor spattered with nontoxic paint, Mama & Me's facilities encourage tots to explore and create. Classes offer options for students age 6 months to 3.5 years and boost creativity and exercise motor skills in a variety of play structures and arenas. In the Little Movers course, rugrats romp across brightly colored foam obstacles. Parents can also participate in classes, helping tykes build social groups and remember what their invisible friends wore to last season's tea party.
Sullivan's Rhode boasts an Irish lilt and a vibrant, sporting atmosphere where cold brews are savored and traditional pub fare warms bellies. Among the murmur of sporting debates, affable servers float plates amid the glow of nine 50-inch plasma TVs that display basketball, hockey, and full-contact tic-tac-toe. Providence College basketball games precede Thursday-night karaoke, and locals shake a leg during Wednesday's DJ dance party. Minutiae masters host Monday-evening trivia, where guests must flex brain muscles and refrain from taking advantage of Sullivan's free WiFi to look up the answers.:
Founded by a childbirth educator recently profiled in Worcester Mag, Mothers & Company’s natural-parenting community center supports expectant and new moms with relaxing yoga classes while its store supplies them with organic and natural baby products. The store's collection of cloth diapers, baby carriers and slings, pumps, and other accessories facilitates a natural and organic transition into parenthood. The store’s homeopathic, all-natural Hyland's Calms Forté sleep aid soothes parental nerves with chamomile, slipping them into restful sleep filled with dreams about even more sleep ($7.50); a pair of absorbent, washable Bummis training pants stretches with Lycra to fit around little legs and bellies as they trot toilet-ward ($11).
Housing 5,000 square feet of play structures and interactive activities, Kidz Kastle incites imaginative play in youngsters as old as 10. The center showcases its dedication to child safety by cleaning toys multiple times throughout the day with a chemical-free sanitizing system and provides parents with a WiFi-equipped viewing area so they can maintain vigilant watch over their chubby-cheeked cherubs or fantasy foosball team. Kids romp through an indoor playground, complete with custom-designed playhouses, a costume corner, karaoke and performing arts stage, fantasy teacup ride, and foosball and air-hockey tables. Through interactive revelry and activities, kids are provided with a means to develop creativity and social skills, as well as a welcome diversion from normal routines spent trying to grow goatees.
The teachers at Weston Wayland RWA Success Learning Centers have a variety of backgrounds and credentials, from early childhood education to advanced physics degrees from MIT. The staff use their vast experience and knowledge to help students tackle tough subjects and prepare for exams. They specialize in math (all the way through calculus), reading comprehension, and elements of effective writing, including grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary. They also guide students toward academic success with exam-preparation programs for the SAT, SSAT, ISEE (Boston Exam School Test), and SAT subject tests.