By: Matt Austin
October 25, 2008

With the fall season right around the corner, NBA basketball will be back in session with the Phoenix Suns. But for YMCA members and Kyrene Corridor residents, the Suns are providing another reason to generate excitement.

Thanks to the NBA and Toyota, the Tempe Family YMCA will receive a major grant to be used to help create a new and advanced learning center.

Tempe Y Executive Director Vinny Mirizio spoke excitedly about plans for the center and the new collaborative effort.
“The YMCA is always doing grants and asking for help from various organizations,” Mirizio said. “And with the NBA, they have a program which will re-do a room into a learning center with a $70,000 makeover, which will include new carpeting, furniture, lights, books, a projection screen television and 16 laptop computers.”

Construction began approximately three weeks ago when the NBA contacted the Y with news they wanted the local agency to be a recipient of the grant program. Since then, the room has already seen vast improvements, including a Phoenix Suns-themed paint job with orange and purple walls, new book shelves and cabinets, and a Nintendo Wii video game system that will include athletic and aerobic video games.

“We believe a key aspect in learning is also developing good hand-eye coordination,” Mirizio said.

 The YMCA currently has 128 students in its after-school learning program, which is paid for by the local Tempe Diablos service club, and is fed by students from area nine schools including  Aprende, Fees, Fuller, Ninos, Norte, Paloma, Pueblo, Rover and Waggoner.

“The YMCA has a ‘No Child Left Behind’ policy, which means that even if the child is unable to afford membership for the YMCA they will never be turned away,” Mirizio said.

“We don’t want children to go home to an empty house; we’d rather they have somewhere they can go to do activities and be supervised; our main focus is to help them with their homework, and thanks to the Phoenix Suns and Toyota, we can tutor 70 kids a week in major subjects such as math, English and science.”

The new room, which will be christened the Tempe Diablo’s Learning Center Sponsored by the Phoenix Suns and Toyota, is set to open Nov. 11 with a celebration all will be welcome to attend.

The Suns will provide their jam van along as well as Suns cheerleaders and dance team, according to Mirizio.

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.




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