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The teen center revamped

  • Published
  • By Verla Davis
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Since opening in its new location, the RAF Lakenheath Teen Center is reviving programs and creating new ones to keep youth ages 13 to 18- years-old off the streets and very busy. 

"There are not a lot of things for them to do around here which is why it is easy for them get into things or do things that are not so good," said Roderick Clarke, teen center director. "We hope our planned events will give them plenty to do." 

The teen center's mission is to create and maintain high standards of health, education, character and citizenship in order to meet the responsibilities of the democratic way of life. 

Previously located in the housing area near the youth center, the facility could only hold about 35 persons in one big room at one time. Now, centrally located in the old fitness center, Building 900, it now has three rooms than three rooms that can hold at least 35 persons each. 

The facility houses a basketball court, pool table, video games, television, computer and other areas one can choose from. 

"I like playing pool practicing and getting better, because one day, I  am going to beat my mom," said Lincoln Nora, teen center member. 

The new facility enables the teen center to provide better support to the youth in the community through existing programs. One of those programs is the Keystone Club. 

The club teaches youth leadership skills while organizing and planning  events that benefit the community. They can earn volunteer hours. They earn money for college scholarships through fund raisers they held throughout the year. 

"This club is wonderful, we provide them with a place to meet and they completely run it themselves," said Cherylee Newton, recreation assistant. "They meet every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. here." 

"They can annotate that they were club members on college applications," said Ms. Newton. "It's a great opportunity for them." 

"As the director, all I do is oversee their meetings, provide my insight and knowledge and provide assistance if they need help putting together a function," Mr. Clarke said. "The kids do everything." 

"There are a lot more things offered to us, I hope we get to go to  Florida this year," said Felicia Lamothe, Keystone Club president. 

While it was revamping the old programs, the center started some new some new programs to include: the 4-H Club which builds a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change. 

"We started this club because a lot of teens have been expressing interest in cooking, baking and other skills and this club will give them that avenue," said Mr. Clarke. "The health and wellness center has agreed to let us use their kitchen to help us get started." 

Another new event, "Teen Talent Night," will be held every Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. Whether it is dancing, singing or poetry teens are welcome to come and showcase their talent. 

Other new and upcoming events include: white water rafting excursions, paintball, movie night, game night, the book reader's club, homework club and more. 

The new events, paired with the new facility are moving the center in a positive direction and the youth will greatly benefit from the changes, and seem quite excited to take advantage of what is offered, said Mr. Clark. 

"I like coming here," said Lincoln Nora. "I like being able to go somewhere besides home and hang out my friends." 

"Everyday that it is open, I'm here chilling with my friends," said Tanisha Joyner, Keystone Club member. 

"We want to make sure our teens have a safe place and good environment where they can go to express themselves and have fun," said Mr. Clarke. 

The teen center is open Tuesday through Thursday from 3 until 8 p.m., Friday from 3 until 11 p.m. and Saturday from 5 until 11 p.m. Volunteers are needed to help aid in mentoring on the weekends and for the homework club on Tuesdays, to volunteer call Mr. Clarke at 226-1184.