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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex youth treated to pasta dinner at Youth Centre

by Kyle Reid

There was only a small turnout for the free pasta dinner at the Essex Youth Centre last Friday, but Youth Centre staff members hope that by hosting similar events, they can keep spreading the word that the facility is open year-round for a variety of activities.  

Previously, the Essex Youth Centre, located in the rear of the Essex Recreation Complex, was only open during the summer. However, two of the staff members employed at the Youth Centre last summer, Tauner Martin and Bryanna Currie, rallied to help find a small pocket of reserve funding for the 2018-2019 school year.

That effort has given youth an opportunity to receive free after school tutoring, or just have a fun place to hang out. Youth at the pasta dinner noted they frequent the centre whenever they get the chance, and nobody was keen to turn down the chance for a tasty, free meal on Friday evening.

Currie and Martin, both of whom are students at the University of Windsor, also take turns hosting free tutoring programs in a variety of subjects on Monday and Thursday evenings, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Friday’s are for fun nights from 3:30 to 9:30 p.m., where youth can take advantage of Youth Centre resources, like ping pong, pool, and foosball tables; gaming systems; computers; TV; and boards games.

During March Break, the centre was open every day from 1-9 p.m., providing Essex youth with a safe, fun place to hang out while they took a break from their studies.

And while staff members want to keep spreading the word about Youth Centre activities, turnout hasn’t been poor for programs since they’ve remained open. Martin noted that around 40 new faces have showed up for tutoring sessions or hangouts since September.

Currie said by hosting events like the pasta dinner, they’re just hoping to see even more youth interested in taking advantage of the resource.

“We were just looking for things to do during March break, and we’re always wanting to get more kids out,” Currie said. “We thought if we advertised with a free pasta dinner, them maybe we’d get more kids.”

Currie and Tanner noted that the Youth Centre will definitely be open all summer, but they aren’t yet certain about the next school year. The centre’s only real operating expense is staff wages, which are covered by the Canada Summer Jobs Program in the summer, but not during the school year. Along with the centre’s Director, they are currently exploring some funding options to keep it open for the next school year.

Next up, the Youth Centre will host a Splatter Paint Night on March 22 and a trivia night during the last weekend in March. 

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