Entertainment, Lifestyle, News

Lynn Boys & Girls Club receives new games room and interim teen center

Chloe Michael and Gianna Okunpeor, sitting, along with Anaiah Hidalgo and Kayel Mallett, standing, play a basketball video game in the new games room at the Boys & Girls Club. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — As part of a $4.5 million capital campaign project, the Boys & Girls Club unveiled a new games room and interim teen center last week.

The interim center is in place until the entire basement floor is renovated as a full area for the teen members, which includes demolishing the building’s antique bowling alley. The games room, above the gymnasium in the back of the club, got a fresh makeover and some exciting electronic devices for the younger members, according to Executive Director Brian Theirrien.

“I love it,” 8-year-old Anaiah Hidalgo said about the games room. “My favorite part is the new TVs and the Xbox and how they redid the whole room. There used to be a scary hole in the ceiling.”

Chloe Michael, 8, said the games room has more chairs, more comfortable couches, and smells better. The freshly painted pink and blue walls give the room a nice pop and make everything brighter, according to 8-year-old Gianna Okunbor. The three girls agreed the updated bathroom is great because now they don’t have to walk to the front of the building.

Theirrien said the former games room was not adequate for the young members. He had the room recarpeted, added dim lighting and a spotlight for member performances, purchased a number of televisions and Xbox gaming devices, and renovated the bathroom, since it has not been used in years.

“The games room is a space for younger kids away from the entry point of the club and it’s a short walk to the gym,” he said. “It separates the age groups and clears the congestion of kids we were having right up front.”

The interim teen center was put in place so the older members can have their own space to hang out while the basement’s major renovations are underway, Theirrien said. For now, the teens have a pool table, their own Xbox devices and flat-screen TVs, 10 laptops to do their homework on, and their own bathroom.

“I came in Monday to 30 kids being down here and that’s the most I’ve seen,” said Teen Director Chanelle Clark. “It’s great to have these kids come into a safe environment where they can be comfortable and have fun instead of being on the streets, getting into trouble.”

The building’s lowest level will be a full haven for the teens by fall, equipped with a full technology center, a workout room, a conference room, and a “tween” space for members aged 11 and 12.

“We have to invest in the teens now, we can’t wait until next year,” said Theirrien. “The goal is to get them used to being separate from the other club environment and start focusing more on career development, graduation goals, getting a learner’s permit, seeking colleges, and seeing what they want to do do with their lives. Teenagers are in a different stage in their lives where, yes, they want to have fun and make memories, but they also want to start thinking about being grownups.”

The total cost of renovations for the games room and the interim teen center, including patchwork, new equipment, cleaning, and furnishings, was about $22,000, said Theirrien. The club will really dive into the first part of its two-phase capital campaign in late March or early April.

Phase two, potentially taking place during the summer of 2020, will be a much bigger project that takes care of the back portion of the building, where the pool begins and the gym ends.

“The entire older building, like the basement, main floor in the front, and the upstairs licensed child care area, will be complete by the end of September,” said Theirrien. “We are really fired up about that.”

More Stories From Lynn