WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Zekelman Kids First Fitness Centre will soon re-open under a new name and business model to help support long-term sustainability of its programs.

“Currently any sort of programming for extracurricular activities or anything like that isn’t funded. We were hoping, going into this year that we would have some funding for that, unfortunately, because of COVID-19 that’s up in the air,” says Angela Yakonich, Windsor Family Homes and Community Partnerships executive director.

The fitness facility for at-risk youth launched in August 2019 as a program of Windsor Family Homes and Community Partnerships. Prior to shutting down in March due to COVID-19, the agency’s provided free after school programs and day camps for hundreds of youth.

“After school, they would come here and sit with a social worker. They could discuss some things, go over homework, make a healthy snack for themselves,” says Brad Bellavance, coordinator of health and fitness. “After that, they could come and have a quick workout.”

The facility is undergoing renovations, and will re-open under the name Community Family Fitness Centre. It will be turned into a social enterprise and co/op model where profits made will go directly to support programs and services for the vulnerable population.

“We’ll all be devoting x-amount of hours per to donate our time to help run these programs,” says Bellavance, who is currently recruiting personal trainers to join the cause.

“The money that we generate through the facility will be re-invested back into helping sustain these programs,” he said. “Not just the fitness programs but the social housing programs and any other programs that we are running through this facility.”