Friday, April 15, 2005

A HUB of activity

Youth center celebrates first birthday tonight

Express Staff Writer

Janelle Conners the coordinator of the HUB youth activity center oversees an array of youth programming. Photo by David N. Seelig

The space attracts physics classes, church youth groups, new students, pool players and karoke singers.

"It amazes me even still. You dream for the HUB to be this kind of place. Really, every kid feels welcomes here, that has been amazing to see," Janelle Conners, HUB coordinator, said

The HUB youth activity center is a 2,500-square-foot facility at the Community Campus in Hailey. Run by the Blaine County Recreation District and YAK!, the activity center houses a small stage, pool and ping pong tables, a resource library, a TV lounge and a video game area.

The community is invited to celebrate a successful first year at the HUB at a party tonight from 6-8 p.m. The festivities include the dedication of the "Helping Hands" Donor Wall, the unveiling of a youth designed mural and the presentation of the HUB Cap of the year award.

"I think the HUB has given kids a place to go, which I never had as a youth growing up in the valley," said Casey Mills, a native of the Wood River Valley and an AmeriCorps volunteer with YAK!.

A significant number of valley kids visit the activity center. According to Conners, 500 kids have made at least 6,000 visits to the facility since it opened in April 2004.

"(The numbers) are pretty amazing. We have about 30 kids per day come in on average," continued Conners.

The activity center is open to students in sixth through 12th grades. The space is a fun, safe and comfortable environment that provides students with a chance to hang out with their peer group. Students gather during their lunchtime, after school and on weekends to socialize, play and study.

"There is a lot of positive support, great role models and activities," Mills noted.

The HUB provides an array of on-going activities, like pool tournaments and art projects. This year the HUB sponsored special events, including a New Year's Eve Lock-In party.

Students are involved in all aspects of the programming, which began with student involvement in the design of the HUB. Student involvement continues with the HUB Youth Council gathering once a month to set rules and plan activities. Students contribute to planning future activities, including a variety of events scheduled to honor Earth Day on April 22.

A full schedule of events runs April 18 to 22, including Seedlings and Vermicomposting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, the first step towards a community garden project for the summer and an After School Club Clean-up project at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21.

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