Lo­cal youth cen­tre a splash for stu­dents

Grand open­ing cer­e­mony draws rowd in Har­bour Grace

The Compass - - OPINION - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

For two-dozen or so stu­dents in attendance at the open­ing of the new Splash Cen­tre lo­ca­tion in Har­bour Grace Wed­nes­day, Dec. 3, it was more than just a cer­e­mony; it was a cel­e­bra­tion.

S.P.L.A.S.H., an acro­nym for stu­dents pos­i­tively learn­ing achiev­ing suc­ceed­ing help­ing, be­gan op­er­a­tions in 2001 at the for­mer St. Paul’s School on Lady Lake Road. Ear­lier this year, the build­ing be­gan ren­o­va­tions to be­come an adult ad­dic­tions treat­ment cen­tre. But the cen­tre wasn’t closed for good. After a re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of schools in 2013, the for­mer Har­bour Grace Pri­mary school was va­cant. It be­came the new home of the Splash Cen­tre in Septem­ber.

Now, three months later, the staff and stu­dents opened the doors to the pub­lic for a grand open­ing cer­e­mony.

Pro­gram of­fer­ings

All stu­dents from the Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion can at­tend the Splash Cen­tre, and a bus is avail­able free of charge Tues­day through Satur­day to trans­port those from Bay Roberts to Vic­to­ria to the cen­tre and back.

Be­sides be­ing a youth cen­tre where stu­dents can go after school to lift weights, use com­put­ers, play games, watch tele­vi­sion and play in the gym, there are many pro­grams they can take ad­van­tage of.

The cen­tre of­fers th­ese pro­grams for youth liv­ing in or at risk of liv­ing in poverty, and some who have been in trou­ble or are at risk of be­ing in trou­ble with the law. One such pro­gram is Chang­ing Lanes. Those who take in the 15-week pro­gram par­tic­i­pate in recre­ation, ed­u­ca­tion, well­ness, ca­reer ex­plo­ration and com­mu­nity fo­cused learn­ing. It con­cludes with a two-week work place­ment.

Over 200 young peo­ple have taken part in the pro­gram, with a 94 per cent suc­cess rate for com­ple­tion and work place­ment.

Another pro­gram is Strength­en­ing Fam­i­lies for the Fu­ture. This is an early in­ter­ven­tion pro­gram for chil­dren be­tween the age of seven and 11 and their fam­i­lies.

The cen­tre’s web­site says the pre­ven­ta­tive pro­gram as­sists fam­i­lies by re­duc­ing risk fac­tors and “the en­hance­ment of pro­tec­tive fac­tors in the fam­ily unit.”

Dur­ing a reg­u­lar week, when stu­dents come in and take part in dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties, they can also re­ceive a hot meal.

There is no charge for the kids to eat, but they are re­quired to cook and clean up in groups, with su­per­vi­sion. This pro­gram, which feeds be­tween 20 to 30 kids daily, is funded by the United Way.

Award re­cip­i­ents

Each year, three awards are given to mem­bers of the Splash Cen­tre by the com­mu­nity polic­ing of­fi­cer with the RCMP, Const. John Clarke. The awards were handed out at the grand open­ing.

The Youth Vol­un­teer of the Year award was given to Ross­well For­ward, a young man who is a reg­u­lar at the cen­tre. He al­ways of­fers his as­sis­tance when­ever he is needed.

A sec­ond award given out was the Per­sonal Achieve­ment award. Sa­man­tha King was the re­cip­i­ent. The award is given to some­one who has demon­strated per­sonal growth and self im­prove­ment over the past year. She was su­per ex­cited to be the re­cip­i­ent, and gave staff mem­ber Jor­dan Ber­reique a hug in cel­e­bra­tion.

The fi­nal award was a spe­cial one for the re­cip­i­ent, master of cer­e­monies April Clarke.

While speak­ing to the crowd, she ad­mit­ted a few years ago, she would have never stood up in front of them to speak. But she did, over­com­ing any anx­i­eties that she once had.

In the mid­dle of the cer­e­mony, April was given the Anne Con­nor Shep­pard award for com­mit­ment, ded­i­ca­tion, lead­er­ship and per­se­ver­ance for all she does at the cen­tre.

Other mem­bers cheered for the award win­ners, and em­braced them after the cer­e­mony was over.

Fin­ish­ing the event with sev­eral ta­bles filled with food and a tour of the fa­cil­ity, ev­ery­one agreed the suc­cess of the Splash Cen­tre will con­tinue be­cause of the ded­i­cated staff, par­tic­i­pants

and com­mu­nity support it con­tin­ues to re­ceive.

Pho­tos by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Some mem­bers and staff of the Splash Cen­tre were on hand for the fa­cil­ity’s of­fi­cial grand open­ing Wed­nes­day, Dec. 3 in Har­bour Grace. They were, front — April Clarke; mid­dle (l-r) — Wayne New­man, Ross­well For­ward, Ethan Mercer, Cassie King, Sa­man­tha King, Jus­tice Brazil, De­siree Thomas, Mag­gie Car­roll, Jas­mine For­ward and AJ Mercer; back — Dion Bu­jold (Chang­ing Lanes co-or­di­na­tor), Mag­gie Snow (ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor), Amanda Mercer (pro­gram co-or­di­na­tor), Adam Pur­cell, Solomon Misher­alak, Bran­don Nof­tall, David Shep­pard, Joseph Misher­alak, Austin Dove, Justin Gal­way, Jas­mine Han­cock, Sa­man­tha New­man, He­len Ban­ton, Jor­dan Ber­reique (Chang­ing Lanes co-or­di­na­tor) and Juanita Verge (floor man­ager).

April Clarke has come a long way in the past few years, from a quiet and shy girl to a con­fi­dent and out­go­ing teenager. She was the master of cer­e­monies at the Splash Cen­tre grand open­ing Wed­nes­day, Dec. 3 in Har­bour Grace.

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