Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the Don & Beverly Gardner Center for Great Futures in Lawrence, Kansas. Over 400 enthusiastic people turned out for the event, including parents, project donors, city commissioners, and school board members.
The afternoon was a special one, especially for the teens who participated. Destiny, a seventh-grader who’s attended the Club since kindergarten spoke about the importance of the Club.
The honor of cutting the ribbon went to Avion, a high school freshman. Avion has attended the Lawrence Club for 10 years, longer than any current member. With one cut, he opened the doors to great futures for his peers. And after all, that’s what Boys & Girls Clubs are all about.
An equally special moment was when the lead donor, Harry Herington, talked about why the building was named the Don & Beverly Center for Great Futures. He and his wife wanted to recognize this fabulous couple who have given their lives to the betterment of the community and work tirelessly to support youth and families in Lawrence. Don and Beverly were also on hand for the ceremony and could not have been prouder of what this facility will do to help create great experiences for youth.
Under the leadership of Club CEO Colby Wilson, the community, and the school district, the new center for teens provides a tremendous opportunity for youth to focus on career exploration and job readiness. He believes these unique spaces will be a draw for middle and high school students with the potential to ignite passion that could lead to great careers.
Among the unique spaces is a culinary exploration area with a state-of-the-art commercial and teaching kitchen that will also be used to prepare meals for youth after school. Teens interested in engineering can make great use of the “makers space” and fabrication areas. And a state of the art technology center with a sound studio and recording space allow teens to explore STEM and performing arts careers.
Officially opened on August 17th, the 50,000 square foot Center for Great Futures teen center has the capacity to serve 250 teens a day and is outfitted with all other recreational and unique Boys & Girls Club spaces, thanks to the partnership with the school district. The campus also houses the Lawrence Public School’s College and Career Center, where the school will be looking to partner with local businesses going forward to provide additional workforce readiness opportunities for teens.
In his remarks, Dr. Anthony Lewis, superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools, stated, “We can’t do it alone. We work with these young people during the day, but what happens when they leave us? Continued greatness happens inside these walls.”
Posted by Jim Clark, President and CEO of BGCA.