A place for teens to hangout, play some games, learn some valuable skills and stay out of trouble has finally opened its doors in Lumby.
The “Teen Hangout” as it’s being called for now, until a proper name is made official, has opened in the former coffee shop/motorsports shop on Shuswap Avenue.
With a pool table, Foosball, pinball machine, jukebox, TV, food, couches and tables to lounge at, the centre offers lots for teens to do.
“We’re trying to make it so kids want to come here,” said Robert Wilkinson, who purchased the building for the Lumby Food Bank and has offered up the front space for the teen hangout.
With the help of Melody Sanders Bosk and the many donated items, the centre held a soft opening on Halloween and has since been open off and on after school.
“There is that need for kids for just a few hours after school,” said Bosk, whose own teen daughter Victoria enjoys hanging out at the centre, lending a hand and just having some good clean fun.
“There hasn’t been anything here for probably 10 years or more,” Bosk said, noting many parents and teens are thrilled with the new hangout. “I have four kids, when I came here in ‘93 my oldest she was nine when we moved here, there was nothing to do.”
Her youngest, Victoria, can attest to the lack of options in the village.
“I go home, like any other teenager, I go on YouTube. There’s some kids that hang out at the skate park, or hang out with their friends, because they have nothing else to do,” Victoria said. “That’s what gets lots of kids into drugs because they have nothing else to do.”
“Right now the boys are going up to the Blue Ox Pub and we don’t want our kids going to the pub,” Bosk said.
The plan is to have the hangout open after school from 3-6 p.m., but it will be up to the kids, if they want it to be open later, they have to get their parents or someone to monitor things. The centre would be for teens only (13-19), free of charge and thanks to the donation of a commercial popcorn maker and a hot dog machine, the kids can keep their bellies full.
“That’s Robert’s goal, to make sure nobody goes hungry,” said Bosk, as some of the extra food bank items can be given to the kids.
Bringing food into the mix also offers the teens a chance to learn some basic skills.
“Come in and make yourself a sandwich and learn to clean up after yourself,” Bosk said.
“It’ll be a teaching environment as well. It’ll connect them to the food bank which connects them to the community. It’s going to bridge a lot of gaps.”
A public health nurse also comes into the food bank on the second Tuesday of every month, which opens up health care access for teens.
A couple community members have even expressed an interest in mentoring the youth on projects.
Between all the activities, tons of board games, learning opportunities, the potential for teens to schedule pizza parties and dances, the plan is to keep the hangout Wi-Fi free. But that might change, Bosk admitted.
“Eventually what I’d like to do is rent out the commercial kitchen for donation which will come back here,” Bosk said.
The hangout has been made possible by a number of donations and deals, but Wilkinson has primarily been footing the bill for all the equipment.
“We had the TV donated, and some really good deals because people want to help,” Bosk said.
Now the only thing left to cover is insurance, but so far the hangout has come up against a stiff cost to cover of $3,500. That’s the only barrier so far, but Bosk is hopeful that some fundraising can help pay the bills.
“If it works it works if it doesn’t we’ve got nothing to lose,” Bosk said, who is doing everything volunteer while also running her home-business Trust Mother Nature.