Youth center features caring staff, things to do
Teens play a game of foosball May 10 at the Fort Rucker Youth Center.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 16, 2013) -- From analyzing data to kicking around a soccer ball, or sewing to video games the youth center at Bldg. 2800 offers something for all children on Fort Rucker at no cost.

The center is a place where youth can go and interact with other children their age, as well as make new friends to hang out and have fun with, said Linda Ivy, teen assistant director and training specialist.

"We offer a variety of activities after school that children can choose from to participate in," she said. "And we have a caring staff here. They interact with the kids and the kids trust our staff."

The center is a state-of-the-art facility with brand new equipment, and up-to-date games and gaming systems.

The center is for teens ages 11-18, and has a 1-to-15 adult-to-child ratio. Children of DOD identification card holders, non appropriate fund employees and contractors are allowed to use the facility as long as they are registered with child, youth and school services.

"Children can do everything from fast-paced activities to homework if they wish," said Pam Williams, coordinator for CYSS. "They have the opportunity to participate in 4-H activities, Boys and Girls Club activities, we go on a lot of field trips and we have big events like lock-ins and block parties."

Williams said the center is a place where youth can express themselves away from home and where they are stimulated creatively, mentally and physically.

"We have organized activities, but we also have free time where they can choose what they do. There is a plan every day where we introduce a project," she said. "Everyone can find what they are looking for at the youth center. There are so many different activities and programs and clubs, we have something for everyone."

The facility includes a full gymnasium with a rock climbing wall, a teen lounge, a demonstration kitchen, an outdoor lounge, a common area, a technology lab, an arts and crafts room, an interactive physical fitness room, a homework center and an entertainment center.

The 22,500-square-foot building is one-of-a-kind for the local area, Williams said.

"It is just amazing. There is so much room for individual growth here," she said, adding that trips to the movies and to local restaurants are common.

The hours of the youth center this summer beginning June 1 are Mondays through Thursdays 1-8 p.m., Fridays 1-10:30 p.m., and Saturdays 1--11 p.m.

"The at-risk hours after school and during the summer tend to worry parents. If their child comes here, they know exactly what they are doing, where they are, that they are getting fed and are being supervised," said Williams.

Officials all agreed that one of the best things about the center was its ability to connect children from different backgrounds.

"They can meet kids from other schools or grades. That is a big bonus for the teens -- to meet people they might have never met otherwise," said Eugene Johnson, youth center facility director.

Staff at the facility help children who are shy to fan out and try new things and meet new people so they can feel more comfortable in social settings, added Williams.

"It offers another sense of belonging outside of school where they may not have many friends," she said. "And the teenagers have their own lounge, which caters to children 13 and older, where they can escape some of the younger participants to get to know each other."

For older teenagers, the center offers many ways to boost a resume. The center has programs that directly help teens prepare for college life and going into the workforce.

There are many choices when it comes to volunteering, an aspect that may appeal to teenagers about to leave for college.

"Volunteerism looks great on a college application, and through our center teens can have fun with their friends while they help out the community in a manner of different ways," said Johnson.

The center also has different leadership positions available through its clubs and mini organizations for teens to expand their public speaking skills and confidence.

"Leadership is a quality that many colleges and entry-level positions look for when they are interviewing candidates," said Williams. "It can distinguish one person from another. There are many opportunities here where teens can stand up and take the lead."

Page last updated Thu May 16th, 2013 at 00:00