.  Sandys 360 has been operational for just over a year and it is the results of many years of hard work, sleepless hours combined with true grit and determination. Over the years we have worked with the community, government, local and international companies to have the vision realized.  The idea to develop the Sandys 360 facility was based on two feasibility studies conducted by the Sandys Secondary Middle School Board of Trustees, and an examination of the Student Youth Survey 2004 conducted by the National Drug Commission.
 

The trustees saw an opportunity to address the concerns raised regarding youth and community development and subsequently the Sandys 360 Foundation was established. The Foundation, chaired by Mr. Walter Roberts, was then charged with raising the funds and constructing the facility.

With their vision firmly in place the objectives were developed and they include finding ways to: provide a full range of educational, recreational, fitness, health and aquatics programmes for students, youth and adults in the community.  Offer programmes to help create healthy and positive young people, adults, and families and to address some of the social issues impacting the west end community.  To date, we have achieved a great deal and there is still a lot for us to accomplish. Our focus is three-pronged – youth, family and community.

Housed in our facility we proudly boast of the island’s first and only indoor, heated, 25 meter pool. We have an NBA sized gymnasium, a gym together with aerobics and activities rooms.  The programs we offer are far-reaching and varied. Starting with the youth:

Our After School program starts with providing students with an opportunity to complete their homework. After that the learning continues where classes are held in Spanish, they can learn to cook, have lessons in botany and of course there are swimming classes. The programs offered during the afternoon work to develop the whole child, fitness and nutrition are addressed, fishing, etiquette and healthy competition is encouraged.  We have many success stories of the afterschool programs, where students have come into to us with some challenges and under the guidance of our staff and volunteers have blossomed into hardworking students and where they work cooperatively with others providing a level of support and understanding that didn’t exist previously.  We can proudly say that we have never turned a child away because there isn’t a place for him or her or because their parents can’t afford to pay. With the help of our corporate partners we provide an extremely high level and quality of activities and experiences for our children.

Our family-focused programs look at the needs and requirements of parents in our community. We are working with the Child Development Centre to provide training, support and guidance for parents with children. We have found that oftentimes parents don’t know where to go or where to turn when they need support with their children. As you know, raising children is extremely rewarding and very hard work. We provide an avenue and opportunities for all parents to get the tools they can use to raise their children to be happy and healthy.

The swimming program. As I mentioned, Sandys 360 has the only heated indoor 25 meter pool in Bermuda. Under the direction of the Aquatics Director the swimming program and grown. Bermuda now has a new swim team – The Stingrays. We have an active senior’s swim program. Both programs have taken in non-swimmers, young and old alike, and turned them into confident, able and strong swimmers. 

Community development. Over the Christmas period we held a party to thank staff, volunteers and the community. What we found, to our delight, is Sandys 360 has truly turned into an epicenter for social interaction in the heart of Somerset. We see a truly diverse mix of young and not so young, black and white, locals and guest workers coming together for personal fitness and staying together to socialize and interact with each other on many levels.  It was extremely heartening to be in the company of some many people who of their own volition brought food and drinks and shared a common bond which I feel can absolutely be replicated in other parts of our island.

Our objective is to raise a minimum of $250,000.00 through a 24 hour swim-a-thon and other activities to support the development of Sandys 360’s youth development programs.

Our goal is to raise awareness within the community, particularly amongst the residents, business owners and workers in the Sandys and Southampton parishes of the work, successes and activities taking place at Sandys 360.  Starting on Friday at 5pm we will have a 24 hour swim-a-thon.  Teams of all abilities are encouraged to enter.  The public is invited come and cheer on their favourite teams.   Throughout the night there will be entertainment, games and activities taking place all night. I understand Hamilton Rotary has entered a team – I look forward to seeing you in the pool.  Immediately following the run/walk we will host a Community Wellness Day and community fair starting at 10:00am.  There will be a number of health-related organizations participating and providing information. Learn how to live a healthier life style. Booths will be set up to provide information, give health checks and answer questions.   There will be information about allergies; asthma, diabetes, massage therapy, holistic healing, and speech therapy, there will be a beauty desk and much more.

It has been said that Sandys 360 is the best kept secret in Bermuda. I believe that after the week of activities and the number of people we anticipate coming through our doors that will no longer be the case. It is my expectation that once people come and participate in any of our activities they will sign up and become life time members.