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YMCA Buffalo Niagara launching mobile 'Y on the Fly' summer program

Staffers and volunteers will travel to different locations to bring the YMCA to underserved communities in Western New York.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The YMCA Buffalo Niagara is going to be on the move this summer with a new, free program that aims to reach children in underserved communities in Western New York.

Y on the Fly will travel to Lackawanna, Buffalo's East Side, and Niagara Falls several times a week all summer long. 

The YMCA got a starting gift from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield's Blue Fund grant program. They were able to buy a van and equipment to take to the different locations.

"When we looked at locations we wanted to take into consideration food deserts because getting food to the kids and families is a big part of the mission of this. Also, we wanted to be somewhere where they didn't have to travel so we chose locations where we are right in the neighborhood [near houses]," said Penny Snell, YMCA Buffalo Niagara vice president of youth development and program quality. 

The YMCA has six branches in Western New York, but Y on the Fly will allow the Y to meet the needs of more children and families across the region who don't live close to a brick and mortar location.

You don't need to make a reservation to participate. If you spot the van, you can come over and take part in the activities. 

Y on the Fly will offer sports and games, art and STEM activities, snacks and lessons on how to make healthy snacks at home. The program will also include food giveaways for families.

Geoff Falkner, vice president of strategy and marketing, says the goal of the program is to nourish kids' minds and bodies, as well as develop a greater sense of community.

"It's all about the interactions,"  Falkner said. "It's not just the games, not just learning skills and drills for basketball. It's also learning teamwork, learning social responsibility, meeting new people, and meeting other people in your community. It's meeting the Y and meeting your fellow neighbors. This is the meeting point to do that on a mobile basis."

A kickoff event is scheduled for Saturday, June 5 at Taggart Playground in Lackawanna. It runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Y on the Fly will start its full schedule on June 29.

  • Taggart Park in Lackawanna, Tuesdays and Thursdays (June 29 to September 2) from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
  • Liberty Park in Niagara Falls, Wednesdays and Fridays (June 30 to September 3) from 9:30 a.m. to noon
  • 70th Street Park in Niagara Falls, Wednesdays (June 30 to September 1) from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
  • Corner of Clark Street and Kent Street in Buffalo's Broadway/Fillmore neighborhood, Tuesdays and Thursdays (June 29 to September 2) from 9:30 a.m. to noon

Click here for more information on the Y on the Fly program.