Local youth centre a splash for students
Grand opening ceremony draws rowd in Harbour Grace
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.
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.
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.
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.