MASON CITY, Iowa - The ribbon has officially been cut on a new gym for children receiving treatment at YSS Francis Lauer.
The new wellness center is part of their $3.8 million 'Building Hope' capital campaign, which is seeing some renovations of existing buildings in order to improve services. The gym is open 24/7 to adolescents, but a staff member must accompany them.
Michael Avila is a junior in high school, and has been receiving treatment at YSS Francis Lauer for two months. He spoke at today's ceremony, sharing his story.
"I've been working on my recovery and taking it very serious and trying to get something out of here. Hopefully, when I go home, I continue to keep up what I've been doing here. All the motivation's there. I'm doing good in school, catching up, not far behind. Everything's going good here."
With the new gym open, he's excited to play basketball and utilizing some new gym equipment.
"It's a big coping skill for me, and it's something that I wasn't doing when I was using, and got lazy. One of my goals here was to get fit physically and mentally well, working on it. It's fun, getting fit makes you feel good about yourself."
Community-based center director Shanda Hansen says the planning process for the gym began as part of the YSS and Francis Lauer merger in 2015.
"When we merged, we had access to resources we didn't have before and really looked at how we can better serve our community."
Hansen feels that the gym can play a pivotal role in a child's recovery.
"Being safe a place to go and coming into a place they can actively recover and be safe, exercise, get those good endorphins going, is really important. When it comes to residential treatment to fight addiction, a lot of times going on an exercise routine or being active is really important in healing and maintaining that recovery."
In addition to the gym, YSS Francis Lauer's Mason City campus will feature an updated education wing, a renovated inpatient unit for addiction treatment, and a crisis intake center.
Partners like Steve and Vicki Sukup, The Richard O. Jacobson Foundation, Variety Children's Charity, Pat and OJ Thompson, First Citizens Bank, and County Social Services have helped make the project a reality.