Rick Lane with McDowell Builders works on the changing areas for the Danville Family YMCA’s new Family Universal Locker Room project.

DANVILLE — The addition of a Family Universal Locker Room at the Danville Family YMCA will have many benefits for YMCA members and the community, officials say.

Construction started Dec. 28 on Phase 1 of the locker room project and will continue for the next few weeks. Initial usage of the new locker room, between phases, could come by mid-February.

Linus VanderWyst, who has been executive director of the Danville Family YMCA for four years, said this was a project that continued to be mentioned.

When the Cerebral Palsy of Vermilion County group disbanded years ago, it gave the YMCA $40,000 toward a locker room project like this, VanderWyst said.

He said they’d look into renovations, but costs were too high.

“We wanted to figure out a way in moving this forward to make it work,” VanderWyst said.

Danville Family YMCA Senior Program Director and Head Swim Coach Joyce Bruett also would see this as a constant at other YMCAs around the state, as she’d attend swim meets and events. They all would have universal locker rooms.

Instead of a huge, costly building renovation to make one work here, Bruett suggested converting the girls locker room into a universal locker room for all genders.

“This has potential,” VanderWyst said they then thought. They also can do it in phases as funding allows.

In addition to the $40,000, the Danville Family YMCA also received a $20,000 grant for Phase 1 work through the Vermilion Healthcare Foundation.

Phase 1 construction is consisting of taking out the long benches, redoing the floor and building five private changing rooms.

Bruett said this is the “dry phase.” For Phase 2, the “wet phase,” they’ll be adding some private showers and making other improvements such as with the toilet and sink areas. This second phase also is estimated at $60,000.

The Family Universal Locker Room could help in a variety of situations, such as a parent taking their opposite gender child to the YMCA for swim lessons. It eliminates the need for them to go to different locker rooms.

Bruett said the new locker room also can benefit, for example, families with special needs adults and children, with space to be together; caregivers and those they are providing care for; senior citizens who might need additional help from someone, like their spouse; the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community; children in child care, summer camp and the days off/out-of-school program; and those in aqua physical therapy through local healthcare systems.

“It’s all for more flexibility for our members... and our community,” Bruett said.

VanderWyst added that the locker room will be for any age and gender to use.

Flooring and painting of lockers renovations were completed last year in the women’s and men’s locker rooms. More renovations are still planned for those rooms.

The Danville Family YMCA moved into its current building at 1111 N. Vermilion St. in 1972.

YMCA officials continue to look at the needs of members and the community.

“We will continue to evaluate what to do next to accomplish all of our goals for the community,” Bruett said.

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