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FORT SHAFTER — The usual sounds of sneakers squeaking on the new gym floor and the swish of basketball nets at the Youth Center, here, took a back seat to the sounds of music and dance, Dec. 7.
Parents, staff and distinguished guests were treated to a medley of songs and dances as the children of the Youth Center showed their appreciation for their new building during the center’s grand opening ceremony — which was a long time coming.
“The original building dates back to 1945 and Child, Youth and School Services took it over in the 1980s,” said Mark Maddox, transition specialist, School Support Services, CYSS, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, in his opening remarks. “This is a beautiful building with state-of-the-art facilities, and the wait was well worth it.”
Construction of the Youth Center, here, began in 2010 and was completed in May at a cost of $10 million. The staff and children moved in Sept. 1.
School-age children entertained the crowd with their talents, and at one point, got some audience members on their feet dancing alongside them.
When guest speaker, Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, USAG-HI, took to the podium to give his remarks, he asked the children, “Do you guys like your new building? If you do, raise your hands and cheer.”
The children’s replies echoed off the gym’s walls. Their response was a resounding “yes.”
“We are very blessed and fortunate to have this facility in the south community,” Mulbury said.
After a final performance by all the Youth Center’s children, and a Hawaiian blessing by Rev. Dr. Kaleo Patterson, Mulbury and Michael Amerosa, director, DFMWR, with the help of two of the center’s children, untied the maile lei, signifying the official opening of the facility.
The new center contains indoor space for administration offices, a training room/staff lounge, a commercial kitchen, a stage area and a snack bar. A culinary arts area has been included for food projects and cooking demonstrations outside of the kitchen.
Also, the center boasts separate program rooms for homework and computer technology, an arts and hobbies room, a multipurpose gym, and space for kindergarten children.
A teen lounge is available with state-of-the-art gaming equipment, a pool table and meeting space.
Outdoor areas include a teen lanai, a playground structure, a lighted outdoor basketball court, and a stairway down to the elementary school.