Visitors were invited to perform screen printing in the Creative Center, create a beat in the Recording Studio, experience futuristic 4-D activities in the Gym/Theater, and try out games in the Teen Center.
The Club will be open for middle school youth Monday, Nov. 13, providing a wide array of innovative programming to foster creativity, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) skill building, healthy lifestyles and self- expression. This year the club is open to 7th and 8th graders. Next year, when the 6th graders move to Warwick Veterans Jr. High, they’ll be welcomed to the center as well.
While the building is located in Warwick, the programs are available for youth from any community, said Eleanor Acton, development director at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick.
“I believe you’re going to walk in this door and you’re going to have experiences that you are going to take with you the rest of your life. And they will make you a better person. It is my hope that when you walk through these doors that you find your passion, and that passion stays with you to change your life, for the better, forever,” Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Lara D’Antuono told the young people in the building’s gym.
She had a specific message for their parents.
“What I wanted to do for you, is create a safe haven in this chaotic world where you know that your children are the number one priority, that they’re safe, they’re engaged and they’re productive. They will leave here better. That is my personal promise to you.”
Mayor Scott Avedisian thanked members of the Warwick City Council in attendance, including Council President Joseph Solomon, Councilmen Jeremy Rix, Steve McAllister and and Ed Ladouceur, and School Committeeman Eugene Nadeau, one of the founding members of the Boys & Girls Club 54 years ago, he noted.
Avedisian said the building will eventually open the second floor to seniors after some more renovations, and will also be the home of the Police Athletic League’s cheerleading and rescue programs on weekends.
“They won’t be going place to place, every weekend, trying to figure out where they can go,” Avedisian said.
Avedisian thanked major donor to the project who helped raise more than $500,000 to remodel the Cooper Building, including the Champlin Foundation, RI State Council on the Arts, RI Foundation, Balise, MetLife, Hasbro, Inc., and Coastway Community Bank.
“Those are the ones that stepped up. Those are the companies that raised over half a million dollars, to make this a reality,” Avedisian said. So for those who don’t understand that giving big can actually produce big results, we hope you take a look at everything that’s here, and I understand it was done with the intention of giving our kids incredible starts and incredible futures.”
Avedisian also praised the scope of the new Cooper Building branch, from the 3-D printers to the recording studio, noting that there was no compromise on their plans.
“Rhode Islanders love to dream big and then settle for mediocre,” Avedisian said, “This time, we dreamed big and were determined to settle only for big.”