After spending a week wondering where they would end up, the users of the Woolwich Youth Centre have settled into their new quarters in the former township office quite comfortably.
“It’s working out amazingly,” said youth centre coordinator Karyn Kennedy. “The kids are loving it.”
The youth centre and the senior’s centre were the last two groups to move out of the Elmira Arena and community centre before the May 13 deadline. The youth centre is making its home in the former council chambers, replacing the desks and chairs with couches and a Nintendo Wii.
Kennedy said the youth enjoy being closer to downtown, where they can walk to the video store. With the extended summertime hours – 2 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday – the youth centre’s numbers have gone up.
The former council chambers are smaller and cozier than the old youth centre, which often felt too spacious.
“It was so big you could have people at the other end and you didn’t know what they were doing,” said Meaghan Westman, who is working at the drop-in centre for her second summer.
The only drawbacks are that there are no computers, and with the extra numbers of youth coming out for the summer, the township hall is almost too small. But both those problems will be remedied come September when the program moves into its new digs in the Woolwich Memorial Centre.
In the meantime, the youth centre is a busy place. They’ve planned a series of trips to Bingemans in Kitchener and another trip to Canada’s Wonderland that will be open to the community. They’re also going on smaller excursions to the movie theatre, the mall and the mini-golf course.
This is also the centre’s year for giving back to the community, with small projects every month to show their appreciation. Next month they’ll be helping with Woolwich Community Services’ backpack program. Kennedy is hoping the youth centre can be the drop-off point for items and the youth can sort them and then deliver them to WCS.
The youth are also getting their hands dirty in the centre’s vegetable garden. WCS plants a garden every year and the youth centre gets a plot.
Kennedy, who started working at the youth centre in December, confessed this is her first time growing a garden since her mother showed her how to put seeds in the ground, so they’ve started with easy things like radishes, carrots, zucchini and squash. The produce goes to the food bank so it can hand out fresh vegetables along with the non-perishables.
“Since I’ve never done a garden before, I’ve learned a lot,” she said.
Westman had a chance to check out the new space in the Woolwich Memorial Centre earlier this week. The room is smaller than the old youth centre but bigger than their current space, and one wall is a bank of windows that let in plenty of natural light.
Collectively, user groups at Elmira’s new multi-use recreation facility received $150,000 to purchase equipment and enhance programs. The youth centre’s share will go toward new furniture, including couches and a flat-screen TV. They’re also looking at buying a second Nintendo Wii, because it’s such a popular item.
Westman won’t be around to see the new space; she’ll be heading back to York University for her fourth year of nursing studies. While she’s sad she’ll miss it, she’s confident the kids will like the new space.
“Once everything is in there, I think it will look really good.”