Chamber View: It’s good to be a kid

Published on: October 19, 2017

Tanya Doran

Executive Director, Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce

Last week, I had the honor of attending the ground-breaking celebration for an impressive 32,500-square-foot building and aquatic center at the Spurlino Family YMCA at 9650 Old Big Bend Road, Gibsonton. This South County location already offers several amenities, including nature trails, a playground, five athletic fields, covered basketball courts and a large picnic pavilion.

Once completed, the estimated price tag for this project will be more than $16 million. It was made possible through a collaborative partnership between the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA and Hillsborough County Commission and the financial support of many generous donors. The anticipated opening date for the building and aquatic center is late next year.

In my opinion, this is a great and much-needed resource for the families who live and work in our community.  As someone who grew up in this area, I would have loved to have spent my summers and after-school hours at a place like this.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a great childhood growing up on a small family farm, and I didn’t have to walk 15 miles to school in the snow, barefoot and uphill both ways. I did have to take an hour-long bus ride to the YMCA pool in Tampa for swimming lessons. Simply stated, 40 years ago, our community had very little to offer regarding children’s programs.

It’s comforting to know families now have several quality options available. Families with school-age children currently have a variety of programs to choose from, including the Sandy & George Simmons Family Boys & Girls Club and YMCA Camp Cristina in Riverview. These provide a safe environment outside of school hours for youngsters between the ages of 5 and 18 as an alternative to being on the streets or home alone. Camp Cristina prides itself in teaching children the fundamentals of swimming and growing new friendships, as well as a place where kids feel accepted.

There are specialized programs geared towards your child’s specific interest like Drama Kids International and Winthrop Arts. Drama Kids International helps children build confidence through acting, a great way to develop public speaking skills. Winthrop Arts focuses on the arts, inspiring the next generation of artists.

For families seeking to help their child improve their athletic abilities, there are local programs offered by the South County Spartans Athletic Program and i9 Sports. Both are dedicated to teaching children life skills through the participation in sports.

The community has educational support in math and reading from Kumon and Mathnasium. Kumon helps accelerate a child’s learning from as young as age 3 all the way through high school. Mathnasium helps kids in grades 2 to 12 understand math by teaching them in a way that’s understandable.

For more information on these and other local resources, visit the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce’s online business directory at, call 813-234-5944 or email