BAMBERG, Germany - The renovated U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg JFK Gym is scheduled to open in March under a new name, the JFK Multiplex. The new multi-purpose program facility will transform the sports, fitness and recreation experience here for children and youth of all ages.

"This will be a multi-purpose facility and not just a traditional gym," said Liwliwa Markey, Bamberg Child and Youth Services coordinator.

In less than a year, the morale, welfare and recreation facility underwent a $1.3 million renovation to replace an entire roofing system and to remodel the interior, meeting the requirements of a certified CYS facility.

"It's pretty spectacular that we are looking at the grand opening of this facility in less than nine months since construction began," said Darrell Clay, Bamberg Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation director.

The interior modifications created a dynamic new space that will house two key CYS programs under one roof: sports and fitness, and the teen program.

"This is one of the few facilities within Europe that can enhance the entire CYS organization by offering children and youth (a mixture of) of fitness and health under one roof. Kids finally have a chance to play and have fun," said Connie Larson, Installation Management Command- Europe CYS Youth Sports and Fitness specialist.

The 20,000-square-foot facility is separated into five main recreational areas: a basketball court; an interactive cardio room; weight conditioning area; climbing wall and teen zone.

There is one full-size basketball court that can be divided in two half-size courts, allowing for simultaneous practices for a variety of additional activities such as volleyball, soccer and cheerleading, Markey noted. The facility can seat approximately 280 spectators, making it ideal for hosting tournaments at any level.

"Basketball is a very popular team sport for youth in Bamberg ... we made a conscious decision to maximize the space to accommodate more teams during the season," Markey said.

Children will find a fun alternative to team sports in the interactive cardio room or the

weight conditioning room. A mix of "exergaming" equipment combines video gaming and exercise, to make getting fit, fun.

"Age appropriate equipment is offered at the facility," said Markey, "and has been chosen and tailored not just for a child's age and size, but also for their capabilities and interest."

Another addition is a 30-foot climbing wall surface. Climbing is expected to be one of the most popular new instructional classes that will be offered.

"The facility was built for the primary users, (who are) children and youth," said Clay, "but on a space available basis we do foresee other groups in the community utilizing some of the areas such as the climbing wall."

It's not just about sports, though.

The opening of the Teen Zone will have a major impact on middle school and teen
programs, which currently are housed at the Oasis building. The new Multiplex Teen Zone, for 9th through 12th graders, boasts a movie theater capable of seating 10, snack bar, multi-media entertainment chair, three laptop computer stations, a pool table and the benefit of a separate entrance at the back.

"Kids want to explore technology, which up to now has been a sedentary activity - primarily sitting in front of computers or videogames that can lead to weight problems," said Cherri Verschraegen, IMCOM-Europe CYS program manager. "This facility offers very attractive technology that also happens to get kids moving. The new standard design for youth centers includes a gym for these types of physical activities."

Bamberg's Youth Services program director, Rizza Asuncion, surveyed installation teens, working with them to develop their new space.

"The sports and activities that (the teens) want are going to be the things we will be
providing at the JFK Multiplex," Markey explained. "Each age group will now have their
own center."