The Ferguson Commission called the community to action in its “Forward Through Ferguson” report, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis are responding with their new Teen Center of Excellence, which opens Thursday, October 3 at 9200 West Florissant Ave. in Ferguson.
“Placing ‘Youth at the Center’ is needed to impact generational change. This center is an expansion of the Innovative Education Hub called for in the report,” said Flint Fowler, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis.
“We strongly believe that greater attention must be given to the massive out-of-school time opportunities we have to support, protect and prepare our children and teens.”
The newly built $12.4 million, 26,856-square-foot center will house an innovation center, recording studio, teaching kitchen, gymnasium, theatre, gaming room, fitness zone, garden area, concession stand, and intellectual commons.
“All Teen Center programs align with our current logic model, driven by our Formula for Impact theory of change,” Fowler said. “These are the four Pillars of (program) Excellence: Education and Workforce Development; Health and Wellness; Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (S.T.E.M.); and Leadership and Civic Engagement.”
He said specific programming will include yoga, healthy habits, open gym, college tours, ACT/SAT prep, tutoring, job readiness, internships and summer employment, visual and performing arts, coding, app creation, robotics, community service, character programs, advocacy training.
The center is intended for youth ages 12-18 and primarily for members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis. Fowler said the clubs hope to serve more than 1,500 teens with the center.
“We do, however, want to serve the needs of the community and will work with groups and neighbors to support their needs,” Fowler said.
“It is envisioned that the center will be used for community meetings, workforce training, adult education programming and other initiatives – as long as they don’t interfere with our primary mission of serving teens and their families.”
The clubs’ annual basic membership fee for teens is only $25; however, Fowler said, there may be other program-related charges for summer camp and/or other major outings.
“Scholarships and other forms of support are available for those who qualify,” Fowler said. “No child is ever turned away due to a family’s inability to pay.”
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis is “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.” For over 50 years, they have provided after-school, teen, sports and summer programs to youth in the St. Louis area while also providing a safe place for them to learn and grow.
The clubs now serve St. Louis youth at 10 locations (Adams Park Club, Hazelwood Elementary School Club, Herbert Hoover Club, Lee Hamilton Elementary School Club, O’Fallon Park Club, Riverview Gardens Club, Hazelwood Southeast Middle School Club and the Teen Center of Excellence). They also operate dropout prevention programs within Normandy High School and Roosevelt High School, as well as the Mentor St. Louis and St. Louis Internship programs.
For more information or to become a member, call (314) 335-8000 or visit www.bgcstl.org.