The YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg is now hosting an open gym program at the Lealman Exchange. The gymnasium officially re-opened on December 5, and includes a remodeled basketball court and spectator bleachers.
The gym’s renovation is part of the greater efforts of Pinellas County and the Lealman CRA working to revitalize the community. St. Petersburg Foundation has responded to the community’s call for recreation opportunities and partnered with the YMCA to offer programs for pickleball and basketball throughout the week, in addition to well-being workshops like their SilverSneakers Fitness Program for adults 65 and older and the Total Parkinson Program. A complete schedule of programs and events can be found here.
Open gym access is a pathway for all community members to improve mental and physical health, and increase community connectivity with no financial barriers. All open gym opportunities are free for the community.
The YMCA had previously held open gyms throughout 2019 before a prolonged shutdown beginning in March 2020. The St. Petersburg Foundation began a partnership with Pinellas County in April of 2022 to reenergize the location with new tenants, property updates, and programming opportunities. SPF is collaborating with other area nonprofits to transform LEX into a valuable community space where Lealman residents can find useful resources, recreation, and more. In addition to the YMCA, the Lealman Exchange is home to partners Amskills, The Broach School, CareerSource Pinellas, Gulfcoast Legal Services and the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. Partners at LEX bring many resources to the community, including career readiness, education, and health and wellness.
Eric Ventura, association Sports Director at the Lealman YMCA, says the connection between the Y and SPF has been an excellent synergy. He says, “We both understand what the other offers and provides.” He specifically praised the updates to the property and facility: “lighting was a big issue in the courtyard. It was pitch black, and now they’ve been able to put some solar lights in there, so staff and other people can walk through without it being so dark.”
Ventura also noted the Exchange’s connection with the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) team, which focuses on urban development in the Lealman area. SPF has formed connections between the CRA, the Y, and the rest of the Collective Impact groups working at the Lealman Exchange. Together, these resources will provide the path to long term sustainable growth for the residents of the Lealman community.
The open gym programs offer exciting opportunities for the Y’s role in providing a gathering place for residents of Lealman. By the fall of 2023, Ventura stated that he hopes to start adult sports leagues in volleyball and basketball. The stage in the gymnasium is also under plans for renovation, which would allow the Y to bring in its dance program.
Word is getting out about the open gym opportunity. If you live in or near Lealman, the Y encourages you to stop in for a game.
YMCA Greater St. Petersburg
The YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg is a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit dedicated to building a stronger and healthier community across southern Pinellas County. With a strategic focus on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, the Y believes everyone should have access to programs and services that help them learn, grow and thrive.
St. Petersburg Foundation
The St. Petersburg Foundation builds capacity at the organizational and community level for social impact. We leverage public, private, and philanthropic resources to help solve our community’s most challenging