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Kids programs on roll at DLCCC -- New Kid Zone area and Wii stations added

New digs have created new opportunities for kids and families at the DLCCC, Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center of late.

"We saw a need for our members and wanted to fill it," said Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center program director Kim Bettcher.

With their newly expanded Kid Zone babysitting space situated in the southwest corner of the DLCCC gym, the recently relocated kids area offers more room for children ages 3 months to 8 years to play, do crafts or just hang out while their parents work out, swim or attend a fitness class or two.

"We expanded and moved the area to the corner of the gym, which has worked out great," added Bettcher.

Besides a gain in space, Bettcher said having better proximity to the gym and a more accessible exit to outdoor playground equipment has been very beneficial as well.

"We made the move so that we could maximize our program. We added another staffer to keep our child/adult ratios low. We are now also able to easily get to our outdoor playground as well as play in the gym."

The expansion project was accomplished by Nathan Webber and was funded by an anonymous grant, noted Bettcher.

Boasting double the space, a phone of their own, and lots of natural light, the Kid Zone also comes complete with specially designed large window nets that help to separate the kid's space from gym activity.

"The nets were designed by Lakes Country Upholstery," said Bettcher, "which came up with the idea and worked with us to create a design that would keep kids safe yet allow the area to still be part of the DLCCC."

With safety always a priority when dealing with kids, noted Bettcher, the nets needed to be just the right size to block out projectiles such as tennis or golf balls yet large enough to allow for air flow and ease of handling.

" We wanted to make sure the size of the nets would make them safe enough to prevent objects from landing in the area but we also wanted something we could take down easily to remove equipment like floor mats that we could use in the gym," explained Bettcher.

According to Better, parents seem to like the new space because they can see their kids while they are working out.

"Both DLCCC and non-DLCCC members can utilize the Kid Zone," said explained. "There is a two-hour max for the service and the charge is $2.50 per hour per kid for non premier Plus members."

On a busy day, the area plays host to as many as 18 children. Some of the kids are regulars, noted Bettcher, coming 4 to 5 times a week.

"We already had an educational component but also have a great gym at our disposal and wanted to incorporate more fitness stuff for this age group."

As a result of the Kid Zone expansion and move, a new area was created especially for teens too, which will add a dedicated area to play interactive video games for them.

Bettcher added they already have one Wii system for this group that is set up in the party room. With the new space, teens would not be ousted from the room in the event of a DLCCC hosted birthday party in that space.

"We (DLCCC fitness director Brent Wolf and Bettcher) are moving our offices into the old Kid Zone space next door. We'll also have space for an assistant too," she explained. "Our goal is to transform our old office space into a teen area. With two Wii's and some other interactive fitness games."

Down the road, Bettcher added that a window may even been added to the teen room to make it even more part of the community center.

In addition to the Kid Zone and teen room expansions, the new Kid's Adventure program held twice a week at the DLCCC has given another group of kids, area preschoolers, another opportunity to take part in structured activities in the gym and at the DLCCC.

"It is actually a program where parents can drop off their kids, unlike the Kid Zone where the parents have to be on site when their kids are in the Zone." added Bettcher.

Another type of children's fitness activities Bettcher has undertaken is to create, a website designed to help organize the many children's activity offerings in the area.

"As the DLCCC is community hub, we use to get tons of calls from parents looking for contact names and start dates for various activities from Scouts to hockey. The website puts all that information together in one spot, whether it takes place at the DLCCC or not."