Karate classes. Pee-wee baseball. Youth cheerleading lessons. Model airplane building -- and flying.
Local youth can participate in just about anything through the Monmouth Independence Area YMCA. It's those opportunities that earned the non-profit organization the chamber's Very Important Program (VIP) award for 2004.
The local YMCA was established 11 years ago, after city officials from Monmouth and Independence inquired about a branch to provide activities for adults and young people in the community.
The goal is promote physical and mental health and help develop leadership skills, said Tim Barry, executive director of the Monmouth Independence YMCA.
The YMCA has about 100 volunteers on annual basis that run its gymnastics, soccer and several other youth sports leagues during the summer. The organization also operates the public swimming pool in Independence.
Between 150 and 250 children participate in YMCA programs each week. During the summer, that number balloons to 500 kids a day.
"It gave a lot to me (when I was) growing up, and inspired me to volunteer," said Rob Kerr, chair of the YMCA board of directors. "Hopefully and local youth and I will keep being able to participate in the program."