Dozens of teens walked through the doors of the recently renovated Teen Center at Southern Highlands Boys & Girls Club with jaws open and eyes wide. It was the first time they were seeing the renovated center.
It has multiple televisions, Xbox and PlayStation video game consoles, keyboards, Foosball and pingpong tables, couches, board games and a small shelf of books.
The renovation took about four months, according to Jason Blouin, regional manager of Aaron’s stores in Las Vegas. Aaron’s has a three-year partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs across the country and has dedicated $5 million to renovations to the clubs.
When designing the Teen Center, Blouin said, the Aaron’s team “made sure they had all kinds of activities that different kids would enjoy.”
The Southern Highlands Boys & Girls Club unveiled the renovated center to the teens April 24.
“I have seen some impactful changes made (to the Teen Center),” said Jordan Jackson, 17, president of the Keystone Club, a teen program within The Boys & Girls Club that provides leadership opportunities to ages 14 to 18. “But this is impressive,” he added.
Andy Bischel, CEO of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada, said about 40 teenagers consistently use the Teen Center.
“You’re going to have fun and you’re going to learn stuff, too,” Bischel said, addressing the group of teenagers, Aaron’s employees and Boys & Girls Club staffers.
“You guys will all find your spots in here that you are comfortable with,” he said. “It might be a play area; it might just be a couch where you roll up with a book.”
The new room has several couches; Jackson said the old center had one couch “that everyone huddled around like cold campers over a campfire.”
Teenagers who visit the Southern Highlands Boys & Girls Club have been waiting and asking for a new space, said Dre Westbrook, the club’s teen director.
“When I stand here I feel very empowered to understand the good work people are doing, I feel also inspired because all of you are going to utilize this space to your advantage and are going to become better people,” Westbrook told the audience.
Southern Highlands Boys & Girls Club
What: The club operates year-round with after-school programs and summer programs for ages 6 to 18. It has a learning center with a computer lab, an art studio, the teen center and a gym.
Where: Southern Highlands Parkway and Shinnecock Hills Avenue
History: Opened to the public in 2014
More information: bgcsnv.org/clubhouses/southern-highlands-club