For the Youth

Lakeland Youth Center Provides Sports, Special Events, a Preschool and More

Writer / Matt Keating
Photography Provided

Jessica Barger, executive director of Lakeland Youth Center (LYC) in Syracuse, Indiana, says the center has helped children lead highly productive lives.

“Lakeland Youth Center is a not-for-profit organization that was created to meet the needs of youth in our community,” Barger says. “Since opening its doors over 55 years ago, LYC has been instrumental in teaching and preparing children to lead successful academic, social and healthy lives. LYC offers a highly regarded preschool, sports programs, and family and community development events.”

Each year LYC impacts the lives of more than 3,500 children from multiple counties and various social and economic backgrounds.

“The LYC staff, along with an average of 135 adult and youth volunteers, shares a commitment to positive youth role modeling,” Barger says.

Barger also praises the LYC preschool.

Lakeland Youth Center

“Our preschool is staff is qualified, energetic and passionate about children and their futures,” Barger says. “Students receive a rich, well-rounded curriculum through hands-on learning centers and activities, and experience positive social interactions with their peers. Graduates of LYC’s preschool are academically and socially prepared to enter public schools.”

Barger notes that the sports programs are also valuable and well-organized.

“LYC’s sports programs strive to develop and promote physical health, teamwork concepts, self-esteem and leadership skills,” she says. “We offer spring and fall soccer, football, basketball, and golf and tennis camps. The programs benefit children ages 5 through 14, from all social and economic backgrounds.”

The LYC team also offers numerous events.

“Family and community development events provide family recreational and cultural activities to strengthen family bonds, cultivate self-respect and self-esteem among youth, and foster positive community relationships,” she says. “The annual Daddy-Daughter Dance and Mother-Son Adventure are two examples of LYC events designed to build strong, healthy individual and family relationships.”

Barger hears a lot of positive feedback from the Syracuse community.

“People have said it’s a positive environment for their children,” she says. “They appreciate the amount of time and dedication LYC puts into the youth, and allowing for a safe environment for the children within the community.”

Barger adds that participants enjoy the range of activities offered, allowing children to try all of the productive activities they are interested in.

“They also appreciate the community events and activities that allow for relationships to be built between youth, adults and the volunteers,” she says.

Lakeland Youth Center

As a nonprofit youth organization, LYC is open every day after school with activities.

“The LYC office is open five days a week,” Barger says. “The preschool operates Monday through Friday, with a.m. and p.m. classes. Sporting activities run through the week with games played on Saturdays. Community events can either be during the week or on Saturdays.”

The list of upcoming activities includes spring soccer, fall soccer, indoor soccer, basketball, flag football, tennis, golf, karate and the Quaker Haven Climbing Club.

“The preschool programs include a class for 3- and 4-year-olds, and a class for 4- and 5-year-olds,” Barger says.

The community events throughout the year include the Daddy-Daughter Dance, the Mother-Son Adventure, a gingerbread house decorating activity, Breakfast with Santa, a fall carnival, a winter carnival, a summer craft class, and the annual Kids First Auction.

Barger says the mission of LYC is “to offer preschool and targeted youth programs that strive to cultivate academic excellence, encourage physical and emotional health, and develop personal and interpersonal skills.”

Barger has a positive vision for the future.

Lakeland Youth Center

“Lakeland Youth Center recognizes the growing needs of our community,” Barger says. “Our vision is to serve our community and children of all social and economic backgrounds by expanding our preschool classes, improving and increasing our programing, modifying our administrative structure, and altering our facility’s space to accommodate growth.”

For more information about Lakeland Youth Center, located at 101 West Chicago Street in Syracuse, Indiana, check out their website at, or call 574-457-3055.

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