FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Keeping children busy and entertained can be quite a task, especially for working parents, but one facility on Fort Rucker exists as a haven for the installation's youth, and parents got a first-hand look at what their children are up to after school.

The Fort Rucker Youth Center hosted its Ice Block Party Open House Aug. 12 to give parents a chance to take part in a bit of friendly competition, as well as take a tour of the facility that their children have come to know so well, according to Sasha LaForge, Fort Rucker Child, Youth and School Services.

"We wanted to give parents the opportunity to see what we offer their children," said LaForge. "We just wanted to give them a feel for our environment -- a safe place for their children to come. This is a place where the staff unites and comes together with the children, and you can see how they love working together and we just wanted to share this environment with the parents and show them what we have to offer."

Throughout the evening, parents got a brief program overview about some of the events and programs the youth center takes part in, such as arts and crafts, and partnerships with local Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as learn about some of the leadership clubs for children to participate in.

Parents also got a chance to tour the facility and see every aspect of what their child is able to take part in, from the gymnasium to the multimedia room to computer room.

Janet Butler, Department of the Army civilian, said she attended the open house to tour the facility her son so often talks about.

"My child has been in (CYSS) since he was a baby," she said. "It's an awesome program and they take very good care of him. He rides the bus from his school to (the youth center), so I don't have to worry, and since I work on post, it's very convenient to come here and get him if I need."

The facility offers sports and fitness activities, academic support, mentor support, arts and crafts activities, afterschool programs, leadership and life skill opportunities, as well as other leisure activities.

There is a gymnasium, complete with basketball court and rock-climbing wall, as well as an outdoor skate park.

The center also boasts multiple activity rooms, including a youth technology lab where youth have computer access for learning and games with computer programs that can be used for activities, such as videography, digital photography and more.

For children who wish to explore their creative side, there is an arts and craft area that children can explore sewing, paper and music crafts, as well as an interactive fitness area that children can use to keep up on their fitness. There is even an entertainment area that focuses on music, dance and song, where children can use amenities like the vocal booth, keyboard and digital drum pads, and more.

There is also a common are where children can relax and enjoy refreshments, hang out with friends, play foosball or even play video games. For the more study conscious, there is even an area for homework, which offers homework assistance and educational activities, all of which is free to use for children who are enrolled in the CYSS program.

"Our goal is to just get more people aware of our program that we have here," said LaForge. "This is a free, afterschool program, and everything that we offer is at no cost to the parents. We don't charge them for meals or anything -- they can just come and enjoy, and we also host after-school field trips, which are also free."

The center's hours of operation are Mondays-Thursdays from 2:30-8 p.m., Fridays from 2:30-10 p.m. and Saturdays from 1-11 p.m.

Children must be enrolled in the CYSS program to visit the youth center and all visitors, including parents, must sign in at the front desk.

For more information, call 255-2271 or 255-2260.