The new location at Ward and West Las Palmas avenues is perfect — sandwiched between prime hangout spots like McDonald’s and Chilaberries and the skate park across the street.
City leaders and Center for Human Services officials both deserve pats on the back for the move, as do the local youth who were involved in the conversations.
Last week’s grand opening received an overwhelming community response, welcoming students from elementary school to high school ages with a plethora of activities, including dancing, games, art viewing and the chance to spray paint “urban art.”
In addition to the presence of hundreds of students during the event, it was nice to see city staff members, parents, school district officials and chamber of commerce representatives on hand.
The teen center, which will remain in the True Value shopping center storefront for a few years until a permanent spot is created at the city community complex across the street, is truly a community effort. It not only has pool and foosball tables for entertainment, but also will offer homework help and community-building efforts starting with weekly dinners.
Even when the teen center was at Highway 33 and I Street, some of its attendees included at-risk youth, and its use will likely grow now that it is in a more central location in town.
It’s also encouraging to see that community leaders are seriously looking at ways to engage our young people — and not merely entertain them — through programs such as the city’s Youth Action Commission, after-school activities and church youth groups.
Such efforts are important. These youths are not just Patterson’s future; they play a vital role in its success today. This city can only benefit as we nurture their moral growth and leadership skills.