Nelson youth centre to be renovated, rebooted, and reborn

Improvements reflect increasing participation and engagement.

With over 8,000 visits expected this year, there are some big, bold changes afoot at the Nelson and District Youth Centre.

“I’m excited about the renovations and programming changes both completed and underway,” says city council youth advisory committee rep Valerie Warmington.  “The centre has been really well-used by youth from Nelson and surrounding areas in the past, and each improvement sees a further increase in participation and engagement.”

“Kids and parents in town are going to be really excited about what has already happened here, what’s about to happen, and what’s soon going to be available at NDYC,” says Nelson youth employment centre coordinator Jonny Salerno.

Closed last week to make way for a flurry of construction activity that will see long days and working-weekends, Nelson’s foremost venue for youth and young adult services is in the midst of a wide array of improvements to spaces and programs, most recently in the skatepark area.

“The changes in the skateboard park/programming area are incredible,” says Salerno.

The upgrades — which will be unveiled at a grand re-opening is slated for July 3 — include a vastly improved skating experience, a designated area for drop-in athletics and organized sports, with the addition of 1,000 square feet of space for games and other programming.

The area will provide a safer, more engaging, and fun interactive zone for users of all ages, with better sight-lines and materials, a cleaner design, and superior aesthetics.

“The renovations are long overdue and especially timely in light of the opening of the outdoor skatepark,” says Salerno, “it was time for a change.”

“The city has been very, very supportive, and this has encouraged us to take risks and dream big,” he adds, noting the additional support of the Columbia Basin Trust, KidSport and the Osprey Foundation.

This is the last phase of NDYC renovations and redesigning, all of which started after strategic planning in late 2013, following the departure of long-time manager Christine Schmidt in July 2014. Schmidt moved on to a coordinator position at Selkirk College.

Salerno was hired as a coordinator, along with Fitz McGoey. Marty Clemons has been hired as the NYDC program facilitator.

Salerno explains that with the re-organization, he and his new group put forward a plan to execute a series of changes, with the goal of renovating, re-designing and re-branding the youth centre.

The NDYC’s new era will also see enhanced and evolved programming and services in all the facets of the organization.

“We’ve done almost all of the work in-house, and have funded it by doing ‘more with less’, and being entrepreneurial by generating revenue from rentals and birthday parties.

The response from the public, Salerno says, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It is exciting to see enthusiasm being generated around this project,” says Mayor Deb Kozak, “and what is even more impressive is that the NYDC has exceeded benchmarks in both the youth employment centre and at the city campground which they manage.”

Salerno says the NYDC expects it will exceed the 8,000-plus visits the venue saw in 2014.

Nelson and District Youth Centre upgrades to date:

• Second floor, several rooms, offices, hallways re-floored

• Creation of multi-purpose room

• New tables and laptop computer

• Creation of resource area for Nelson youth employment centre

• New large lounge that serves as waiting area, meeting room, theatre, and a quiet space for parents and small children, includes WiFi and tea

• Upgrade to dance studio

• New sports equipment

• Improved art gallery and new supplies

• Improved jam room and new equipment

• New exterior and interior signage, improved directional info and traffic flow throughout centre

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