The Boys and Girls Club of Yorkton is opening a new teen centre in the city this week.
The facility, for teens 13-to-18 and located at 54 C Smith Street West has been a long time in coming for the local group.
Lorraine Moeller, executive director of BGC termed the process finding a location, and having it renovated "a nightmare …
"It's been one thing after the next, after the next."
The problems have included both financial and political ones.
On the 'political side' Moeller said there were several times people would offer support in one way, or the other, and "then when it came down to actually doing it they didn't come through.
"That has been a challenge."
In terms of financing, Erin Nelson, program manager said "it is very hard to find capital project financing."
So the Club has had to put money away awaiting the right opportunity to develop the centre.
"We've been hoarding out surplus funds," said Nelson. "All those years of face painting."
"And every hotdog sale," added Moeller. "We squirreled it away."
But it was worth every butterfly painted and hotdog grilled to create something the Club sees as a definite need in the community.
"I definitely think so," replied Nelson when asked if there was need, adding she receives a lot of feedback indicating teens often "don't feel welcome in a lot of the spaces they hang out."
With the Centre teens "have a space that is their own."
Nelson said that 'ownership' will foster respect for the Centre, although she added as a realist she knows there will be some bumps in the road.
"I definitely know there's going to be days we're pulling our hair out," she said. "I'm not pretending it will be all wonderful and perfect.
That said the Centre will provide a safe place that offers varied programming.
"And they're not out in the cold, or out doing something they shouldn't be," said Nelson.
The programming provided through the Centre is an important element of what they are trying to accomplish, said Moeller.
"We want it to be a place with a program. It's going to a semi-structured place," she said. "Not just a free-for-all hang-out."
One of the key programs being offered at the Centre will revolve around a 12-station computer network supplied through the Rogers Raising the Grade initiative.
"It's a great opportunity," said Nelson, who explained teens enroll in the program and are partnered with an online mentor, who helps the youth "set educational goals."
Moeller said it's a case where student marks are tracked, and post secondary opportunities are identified which match the student's strengths. As well tutoring options are available through the online network to help youth improve in areas they need to bolster to access certain training.
"What are their interests, and what might they turn those into (for a career)," she said.
The Rogers systems also connects students to sites and tutors to help with homework, and has a social networking aspect connecting teen participants across the country.
As an added incentive, students who stay active in the program for four consecutive semesters are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship provided by Rogers.
"Rogers is all about giving back to the community," said Moeller, "… about bringing skilled, trained people into the workforce.
"The technology centre is a gift to the community."
Teens can learn more about the RtG Program at two information sessions Feb, 28. The Program is open to a maximum of 20 teens joining per year, of the four-year program.
The Yorkton site is one of the first 24 set up by Rogers in partnership with Boys and Girls Club across Canada. Eight more will come online this year,
The new facility, highlighted by a large wall mural by Regina artist Andres Araneda, will allow a variety of programming to take place, said Moeller, noting they will have an after school program, from last bell until 5 p.m., every day there are school classes, with programs adapted over time.
"We'll see what their needs are," she said.
Nelson said a general focus will be to offer "some life skills".
With a full kitchen Moeller said they are able to hold cooking classes where teens can learn about the Canada Food Guide, how to shop for food on a budget, and how to prepare it.
When it comes to budgeting, Moeller said they will go beyond food, and show teens "what the real costs of living are," if they are to move out on their own at some point.
There will also be social health programming, including the Centre being the first site in Yorkton to provide free condoms to teens with dispensers in both washrooms. The program is being offered in cooperation with the Sunrise Health Region and the 601 Outreach Program.
The dispensers are part of a program which will include programming around communicable diseases and teen pregnancy issues.
There will also be a varied evening programming schedule, with hours adjusted as program needs dictate.
"We'll add on as we get things ramped up," said Moeller.
The Club has hosted music jam nights in the past, and now have a permanent place with drum sets, guitars and synthesizers.
Nelson said it may take some time to get comfortable to actually "pick up a guitar" but all levels of musician are welcome. "I don't have any skills, put I like to pick up the synthesizer and play."
Art will also be part of evening programs. Nelson said the art instruction will be quite free form, allowing those participating to investigate whatever mediums are of interest.
Beyond the structured programming the Centre will have a 'free night' a week, where teens can simply hang out, playing pool, on a table still planned for the facility, use the exercise equipment (planned to be in place in March), the quiet space for doing homework, or play board games.
The Centre always welcomes donations, said Moeller, adding it helps since with the expanded Centre "costs have exponentially grown."
Nelson added they are always looking for "gently used clothing," in particular for males. She added, "it's a great way to be green."
The Centre provides mens and ladies clothing to teens, with items from extra-small to 3XL. Once per month teens can access the clothes "and pick through and see what they need," taking up to five items.
"It's an ongoing program," said Nelson, adding they have been serving "about 20 youth a month."
Moeller added they can help teens needing to dress-up "if they need something a little nicer for a job interview."
Other items which are always needed are art supplies, video games, board games, and even kitchen supplies such as bags of flour, or sugar.
Moeller said if people make a donation, and they can't use everything, they will pass things on to others groups which can use them.
The centre also operates as the administration offices for the club, but that is not a focus of the 5,000-square-foot space.
"We didn't want them to see some admin desk when they walked down the stairs," said Moeller, adding the administration area "is sort of hidden with the walls of something cool."
The two women say in spite of roadblocks, they are glad they stuck to the process.
"I'm very excited to see it open," said Nelson, adding when people "come down the stairs they say it's so amazing."
At times working so closely with the project Nelson said they sometimes lost site of the fact "it is really cool down here."