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YMCAs To Provide Jobs, Community Spirit To Coney Island, Rockaways

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds of jobs and brand new community facilities are coming to two beachfront neighborhoods devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

On Friday, 150 people turned out to dedicate the new Coney Island YCMA at Surf Avenue and 29th Street in Brooklyn, YCMA of Greater New York chief executive officer Jack Lund said on CBS 2 Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, the Rockaway YMCA is also set to open at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and 73rd Street in Arverne, Queens.

Both Coney Island and the Rockaways were hit hard by Superstorm Sandy a year ago.

In the two beachfront communities, the YMCA hopes to teach local children to swim, Lund said.

"The Y has the gym and swim image, and in a lot of ways, that's maybe more important than it's ever been – the fact that maybe we hear about children who live in beach communities like Coney Island and the Rockaways who are unprepared to get in the water and get in trouble, and so our goal in Coney Island and in the Rockaways is to teach every kid to swim," he said. "And we think that's an American birthright and something that's important to us."

He said the YMCA plays a special role to help children with exercise and nutrition, given the nation's obesity epidemic.

But the YMCA provides a lot more than that, he said.

"Our after-school programs; our Y Schools Initiative – we're focusing on the closing academic achievement gap, particularly for children that are growing up in poverty. We're addressing the diabetes epidemic with a very successful diabetes prevention program that we're operating around the city, and I think one of our boldest initiatives is to reach out to the 200,000 young people – disconnected young people who drop out of school; who are not working, and reconnect them with a program called Y Roads," Lund said.

The first Y Roads center recently opened in Jamaica, Queens, and more will follow in a couple of years, Lund said.

About 125 to 150 jobs will also be made available, from professional staffers to an assortment of full-time and part-time employees.

The Coney Island YMCA will open on Dec. 16. The agency plans to open the Rockaway YMCA by Valentine's Day next year.

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