A new youth center celebrated its grand opening on Monday in Pineville.
The Power House, located in the former Happy Trails building, “is like a dream come true,” said Kathy Brunty of Family Resource Network. “It’s part of a vision I’ve had for years.”
Fulfilling a dream, Brunty observed, made it appropriate to open the center on MLK Jr. Day.
“It really came out of a meeting with our SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) kids,” she recalled. “In our times of discussion, they were saying the only way we were going to stop bad behavior was to give them something else to do.
“We asked what they wanted, and they said a place to go and hang out,” Brunty added.
“Jason Smyth graciously said that if we would do something with (the building), we could have it,” she noted. “We started remodeling. I was moving my offices, and we put our offices in the back.”
Brunty applies for a grant from AEP, which suggested that she ask for more.
Eventually, the center was awarded a $25,000 grant.
“We purchased air hockey, fooseball, a pool table, ping pong,” Brunty said. “And some things were donated.”
The youth picked out exercise equipment.
“We want them to be healthy in every area,” Brunty commented. “We want to encourage exercise and healthy eating.”
The center will also have three big screen TVs and a projector for movie nights.
Other equipment will allow the youth to express themselves through music and drama.
Hours at the Power House begin after school and last until 5:30 p.m. for children ages 10 and up. “We won’t be tutoring but it willbe youth mentoring youth and enjoying time in a positive atmosphere,” said Brunty.
On Saturdays, children ages 10 to 13 can visit from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The center will close for half an hour and then open to teenagers from 6 to 9 p.m.
There will be adult supervision at all times, and those who come in must sign in and sign out.
“They must have parent-signed releases before they can come,” Brunty noted.
“Our staff will never be alone with a student,” she explained. “We have strict guidelines for proving a safe environment.”
“This is a blood, sweat and tears (project) of people who are passionate about kids and our community,” Brunty said.
“What we envisioned,” she continued, “is happening before our eyes.”
Photo: A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in front of the Power House, the new youth center in Pineville.