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YMCA, park districts planning winter activities

Cortland resident Kara Piazza’s 5-year-old sons have boundless energy, which can make keeping them busy a Herculean challenge.

Piazza called the twins’ weekly swim lessons a godsend. Jayden and Hunter Piazza have swim lessons every Friday at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, 2500 Bethany Road in Sycamore.

“It seems to be the one thing that puts a dent in their rowdiness,” Piazza said. “The instructors there are so great, and I also have the peace of mind that they now know how to be safe around water, so it’s a win-win.”

As colder temperatures make outdoor activities less appealing, parents have several opportunities and choices available to keep their children active.

The DeKalb and Sycamore park districts are drafting and finalizing their brochures of their winter programs. The Kishwaukee Family YMCA also has programs available for parents looking to keep their kids engaged while indoors.

“It’s important to keep kids moving and grooving to keep them burning energy,” said Lesley Feyerherm, youth development director at Kishwaukee Family YMCA. “If we didn’t have these places, they’d just be sitting around and be bored.”

Jackie Belmont, who manages the Haish Gym at 303 S. Ninth St. in DeKalb, said in addition to the normal sports offerings, the DeKalb Park District offers new hip-hop dance classes. She added that the programs listed in the park district’s fall program guide will be repeated in the winter session.

DeKalb 4th Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher said his daughter, Siobhan, stays active in the winter by playing club soccer at the DeKalb Park District. His older son, Rory, plays in the pep band at DeKalb High School, while his younger son, Ciaran, plays the piano and builds Origami models.

“We keep my kids extra occupied,” Gallagher said. “People think I have lots of energy. My kids have double the energy.”

The Sycamore Park District also offers a similar variety of programs. Superintendent of Recreation Bart Desch said they will host their second free-throw contest this winter, as well as different levels of tae kwon do.

Desch encouraged parents to sign up immediately.

“Parents should register their students when the book comes out,” Desch said, adding that some classes have a size limit. “Don’t register the week of the class.”

At the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, parents can leave their children at the Kid Zone or Activity Center, Feyerherm said. Both are supervised by YMCA employees, she added, and both allow children from different communities to connect and become friends.

“No day is the same in the Kid Zone,” Feyerherm said. “There’s always different activities happening there.”

Both park districts also offer different opportunities to meet Santa Claus this December.

On Dec. 8, the DeKalb Park District will host “Breakfast with Santa” at the Hopkins Park Community Center, 1403 Sycamore Road. Belmont said children and parents can come and go from the free breakfast, but they need to register beforehand.

The Sycamore Park District is holding a “Cookies with Santa” event Dec. 14 and 15 at the Sycamore Park District Golf Club, 940 E. State St. Desch said children will get their picture taken with Santa Claus while enjoying cookies and hot chocolate.

The event is free, but eventgoers are asked to bring a nonperishable food item or an unwrapped toy to donate. The food will go to the Sycamore Food Pantry, while the toy will go to the DeKalb Toys for Tots program.

And if all else fails, there’s always outside. Gallagher recounted the different activities children can do outside once the snow falls, including sledding, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

“It’s great to walk around outside during the winter,” he said.

For information

For information on different winter programs offered by the DeKalb and Sycamore Park Districts, as well as the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, visit their websites:

DeKalb Park District:

Sycamore Park District:

Kishwaukee Family YMCA:

What: “Breakfast with Santa,” co-sponsored by the DeKalb Park District and DeKalb Rotary Club

When: 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 8

Where: Hopkins Park Community Center, 1403 Sycamore Road, DeKalb

How much: The event is free, but participants need to register beforehand. To register, call the Haish Gym at 815-756-8560.

What: “Cookies with Santa,” sponsored by Sycamore Park District

When: 3 to 7 p.m. Dec. 14; 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 15

Where: Sycamore Park District Golf Club, 940 E. State St.For more information on different winter programs offered by the DeKalb and Sycamore Park Districts, as well as the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, visit their respective websites:

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