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Teens get place of their own

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Young people in Wrigley have something to be excited about.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Brandon Moses tries his hand at ping-pong at the newly reopened youth centre in Wrigley. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

As of Aug. 24 the community's youth centre has opened its doors again to the public. The opening coincided with the community's annual gathering.

A day after opening, the centre was abuzz with a crowd of youth moving between a variety of activities.

In one corner people tested their eye and hand co-ordination against a dinosaur-themed pinball game, occasionally ducking to avoid being hit by stray balls shot from players at the nearby ping-pong table.

At the opposite end of the building, the clacking noise made by boys spinning the rods on one of the two foosball tables competed with cheers coming from the crowd gathered on couches where two players faced each other in an air hockey challenge.

All other sounds were occasionally drowned out by loud metallic bangs from the home gym where small arms or legs could no longer support the weights they were trying to lift.

Among all the exuberant ruckus, Shawn Alli kept one eye on the youth while answering questions.

Alli, a Beaver volunteer who has recently arrived from Toronto, is in charge of the centre.

Although the centre was only in its second day of service it has already shown signs of being a popular place for the local youth, said Alli. A line of people had started to form five minutes before Alli opened the door on Saturday.

"They just want stuff to do. That's it," he said.

The regular schedule for the centre hasn't been finalized yet, but the centre will likely be open on weekdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and again from 8 to 10 p.m., said Alli.

"It will be massively popular," he predicted.

Between bouts of ping-pong playing fury, Brandon Moses said he's happy the centre is open again.

"It's good," said Moses

The air hockey table is the best part of the centre, Moses said.

When the centre was closed there wasn't a lot to do in the community, said Savannah Baton.

"There's lots of cool things," she said about the equipment in the centre.

While waiting for an activity to be free, Erwin Cli said he'll likely be spending a lot of time in the centre, especially using the weights.

The centre was closed for more than a year because it needed renovations, said Darcy J. Moses, the Pehdzeh Ki First Nation's band manager.

Funds were raised from government departments and private organizations to fund the work on both the inside and the outside of the building, which included new plumbing, fixtures, drywall and painting. The work was a communal effort, Moses said.

Many people are pleased to see the centre reopen its doors.

"We really need it for the kids," said Moses.

"It keeps them busy. It keeps them active."