Tulalip teens have a new place to go to after school now that the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club new multi-media center is open.
The $2 million extension to the current club provides a wide range of activities for teenagers.
“We have six stations with Xboxes that they’re able to play and game on. We have a number of TVs that they’re able to watch,” said Justice Vela, co-director of the new teen center.
A surround sound audio system can also pump up the music. “It gets pretty loud,” said Vela.
Two large projectors will also be able to make displays inside the teen center and outside, as well, if the Boy & Girls Club wants to hold summer outdoor events.
There are activities like foosball and a pool table, snacks and a smart board that hooks up to iPads to provide a combined mental and physical activity.
The new center has been open since Sept. 18 and the response has been positive so far.
“We’ve tripled and quadrupled the number of teens that have been here,” said Diane Pouty, an administrative assistant at the club.
Pouty said the teens who come in like a lot of the different activities at the center.
“I come back to check in every once in a while, and I’ll see them play a game and they come back and they’re playing cards,” she said.
The large extension to the club is able to bring in a lot of people as well, said Vela.
“We’ve had parents come off the street and ask us ‘what is this in here?’ It gets there attention so I think it will be good in the long run to keep kids in here,” she said.
Vela said that the club is planning events for the center as well, such as an upcoming Halloween Dance that will be the first official event for teens there.
Tulalip officials started planning the new center a few years ago. Much of the money was raised from money collected during the club’s annual golf fundraisers and through grants.
“We’ve raised the money every year though that and kept it in a restricted budget,” said Pouty.
“So this has been a long time coming,” she said.
Club officials had been looking for a way to provide more programming and space for teenagers as their old teen center was running out of room.
“We’ve outgrown our space and we had the teens up in a room that we redid and was formerly storage, so this was badly needed,” said Pouty.
There are other great opportunities for Tulalip youth, said Pouty, but the area lacked a dedicated teen center.
“We have the Tulalip Tribes Youth Center, but it is more into sports. They take the kids out and about to a lot of field trips,” she said.
She said she hopes that the new teen center provides a place where kids will be able to have a safe environment in Tulalip.
“We wanted to keep the kids off the street,” she said. “We’re here for them to come to us.”