Youth spaces a highlight of wellness center


In addition to serving older adults, the Seward Wellness Center aims to enhance activities for youth.

The center, expected to break ground this fall, will offer a variety of spaces geared toward youth of all ages.

It will be used for youth sports as well as after-school care, and families will be welcome in all areas of the center.


Before, after school

Wellness Center Executive Director Joel Brase said the facility will fill a gap left when the former Seward Youth Center closed.

The youth center was located directly across from the former middle school, making it easily accessible for kids after school.

When the middle school moved locations, it was no longer ideal.

“The youth center was a big part of Seward for a long time. We think that will be great to bring back,” Brase said.

The wellness center will be built just across Waverly Road north of the current middle school.

It will offer before- and after-school care for kids. They can make the short commute between the center and the middle school or be bused to or from other school buildings.

“We want to make sure we’re offering a great experience for kids where there’s supervision and activities,” Brase said.

The program will have a designated room where students can check in after school. They can do homework or participate in planned activities where they will be able to use the entire facility.

“We think being in this space, it works perfectly to use all the different areas for activities,” Brase said. “It won’t be like they’re staying in one room.”

Kids will be allowed to spend time in the pool on certain days and in the gym on other days. They may utilize fitness studio space or have relays on the track.

Brase said after-school activities will be structured and scheduled so the public knows when those spaces are being used for the program.

A fee will be charged for before- and after-school care, but the cost and hours have not yet been determined.

“We are looking at examples in other communities,” Brase said.


Childwatch area

Separate from the before- and after-school care space, a childwatch area will allow parents and guardians to drop off their kids for a fee while they go exercise.

“There will be a separate security entry for that room,” Brase said. “Parents will have a specific keyfob they’re given to come pick up their child when they’re done.”

The area will be staffed and only available during specific times of day.

“We’ll narrow down windows when it will be busiest,” Brase said. “There will be lulls throughout the day, so we don’t want to have something sitting in there.”


Youth activities

Children under a certain age will have to be accompanied by an adult when using the wellness center, but Brase said those specifics haven’t been nailed down.

“We’re going to pattern it similar to what other facilities have had success with and adjust it to fit Seward’s needs,” he said.

The facility may be used for a variety of youth sports throughout the year, from basketball tournaments to swim meets.

On those days, likely on weekends, the before- and after-school space will be used as a concession area.

“We’ll have TVs in those spaces, if someone is sitting and having a snack, we could have a game on for them, or it could be a staging area if we have a swim club meet. The TVs could show their results and different things throughout those meets,” Brase said.


Membership rates

The wellness center will be open to members with different fees for different ages.

“We intend to have different levels of membership for youth, young adult, adult, seniors and families,” Brase said.

Rates have not yet been set, but membership fees will make up the majority of the center’s operating budget.

“We’ll be deciding on that in the next few months,” Brase said.

Seward Changing the Game, the organization behind the center, and the City of Seward also plan to work out an arrangement so that people who may not be able to afford memberships can still access the facility.

“We’ll have some processes to ensure we work with those families so they can use the building,” Brase said. “We don’t want to exclude anybody.”

Day passes also will be available for those visiting from out of town or those without year-round memberships.