Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Teen Center Provides Opportunities ; Abbott Community Center Building Houses Area for Local Youths

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Teen Center Provides Opportunities ; Abbott Community Center Building Houses Area for Local Youths

Article excerpt

Teens in Topeka have a new place to hang out with the June reopening of the Juan "Poppy" Abbott Community Center, 1112 S.E. 10th Ave.

The community center -- which closed in August 2013 after Community First, Inc., the organization running the facility, lost its contract with the county -- was unveiled June 23 as the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center at Abbott and opened the following day for teens 13 to 18 years old to attend. The amount of teens that frequent the center has more than doubled in the little more than a month it has been open.

"We had 37 kids start up," said Dawn McWilliams, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Topeka. "We have 89 right now. Our goal is to get kids there. Eighty percent of kids are there at least three times a week. Right now, I mean, kids are there five days a week, which is very positive for the kids."

Before the opening of the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center at Abbott, there was only one room for teens at the Adams Club, Boys & Girls of Topeka's main location, which catered to children as well as teens. With the new facility, teens have an entire building, including a gymnasium.

"There was only a portion of the day that (teens) could get to the gym," McWilliams said. "There was only a portion of the day if they wanted to go in the games room. Now, where they have their whole entire center, they're able to run multiple programs conducive to their age range. We're able to really feed the interest levels of teenagers."

In addition to giving teens a place to socialize with their peers, the teen center puts a strong emphasis on academic success, the arts and preparing teens for the professional world.

The center provides "academically enriched" activities every day that focus on math, science and reading. There also are writing groups available.

"Regardless if it's summer or a school day out, there's always some type of academic component," McWilliams said.

The center works to prepare teens not only for graduation but life after receiving their diplomas, as well. During the summer, some of the teens make college visits. …

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