After several years of disruption and closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the teen centre at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill is back at full capacity with a new coordinator who is very excited about the facility’s role in the community.
“I’m so excited about this job because I’ve worked around kids in child care for many years and I see so much potential here,” Tammy Bolch said. “I’m excited because I saw what this centre meant to my oldest child when he was here several years ago, and I know how much this place means to young people in this community.”
The Ross Anderson PharmaChoice Teen Centre has operated for many years at Springhill’s community centre, offering several programs to youth, most importantly a safe space for them to hang out, be with friends and play games.
The centre has a pair of dart boards, there are pool tables, a table tennis table and video gaming consoles that are immensely popular. There are also snacks and Bolch is hoping to work with Food for Thought to provide nourishment to those young people facing food insecurity.
“Pool is very popular as is the (Nintendo) Switch, but they’ll pull out board games or go to the pantry for a snack,” she said.
Bolch is also hoping to offer things like field trips to places like Moncton’s Magic Mountain and other locations, especially for youth who otherwise may not have an opportunity to get out and enjoy themselves.
“I’m really hoping to do trips, but there are a number of things we have to do before we’re there yet,” she said.
While she’s only been on the job for a short time, Bolch is noticing an uptick in the number of youth coming to the centre.
“It’s steadily growing as word is getting out that we’re here,” she said. “Last week we had our biggest crowd and there was a lot going on. There was lots of buzz.”
The centre is open to youth in Grades 7 to 12 during weekdays from 3:30 to 9 p.m.
Along with being a place to hang out and socialize, Bolch hopes participants will pick up a few life skills such as leadership.
“Right now, I’m leading things, but my hope is the young people will take more of a leadership role in leading activities,” she said. “I see the centre as being a hub between the young people and others in the community.”
She’s also hoping to host cooking classes and bring in speakers to talk about various topics.
Corey Skinner, manager of recreation programs and services with the Municipality of Cumberland, sees big things with the centre and is happy to have a co-ordinator in place.
“During COVID they were trying to piece it together and keep it going as well as they could, but it was very difficult because of things like the restrictions that forced it to close on several occasions,” Skinner said. “That can be tough on the kids but it’s also tough to plan programs and other activities. Now that we have a person dedicated here who can develop relationships and plan events and activities is really helpful. The goal is to have as many people as possible in the facility.”