STAUNTON -- Nelson Street Center Director Makeba Robinson helped open a teen center, specifically for middle school students, this week. It provides a space for students to have five hours of planned activities and free time with friends.
“It gives teens a place to come to again. Structured activities, fun, structured activities, and just an opportunity to interact with adults in the community who have their best interests in mind,” said Robinson.
The center closed three years ago, but now it's open again thanks to the city of Staunton and the Virginia Department of Education. The center needed $600,000 to open its doors again.
Octavia Beasley and Jaylin Reed are among the first middle schoolers at the center.
“It's really fun, and there's a lot more opportunities here to do things,” said Octavia.
Having a space for the specific age group makes a difference.
“I think it's good for people our age. If there were younger people here, it would be more drama, and if there were older people here, it just wouldn't fit,” said Jaylin.
Robinson said mentorships through the Boys and Girls Club can help students make good decisions.
“Middle school students are looking for their place in life. They're looking for how they fit in,” said Robinson, “This program here will not only give them a place of their own, but it will help them become who they're going to be.”
She said that can make the difference in the life of a middle school student.
“We're here to listen to them and support them and help them however we can.”
Organizers plan to keep the center open through the summer. They have field trips and other activities planned.
The center has spots for other middle school students to join.
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