New youth center to open in Juneau

'The Hub' will feature snacks, video games and a climbing wall

Posted: Monday, November 13, 2006

The mall, a fast food joint, a friend's house when parents aren't home - if you're a middle school or high school student in Juneau, your options of places to hang out after school are pretty slim.

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Change is on the way.

Members of the Juneau Christian Center are building a big, modern youth center where kids can get a snack, play computer games, surf the Internet - and even climb the walls.

They're calling it "The Hub." It's scheduled to open in April.

"The Hub will provide a safe, positive environment for young people that will encourage them not only to avoid damaging behavior, but will also provide them an opportunity for success," said Mike Rose, senior pastor at the Juneau Christian Center.

The project got its start about a year ago. Ben Rose, Mike Rose's son and youth pastor at JCC, noticed that most kids who get into trouble do so right after school, when they have no adult supervision and nothing to do.

Youngsters in that situation, Rose said, are usually the ones who get into drugs and alcohol and engage in promiscuous sex.

"In the critical hours of 2:30 to 6 o'clock, we're seeing that a large percentage of Juneau kids are going unsupervised," Ben Rose said. "We want to provide a safe and positive environment where young people can learn and grow."

The center is being built on the lot the church owns at 8001 Glacier Highway. The 6,000-square-foot facility will cost approximately $850,000. When finished, the center will look like a cross between a coffee shop and a television studio.

Designer Richard Carver has created sets for CBS, Fox and other show-biz outfits. The center was designed to be modern, with the tastes of teenagers in mind.

In addition to a cafe, The Hub will have Playstation and XBox game stations and a bank of Apple computers connected to the Internet. A gym and a climbing wall will be open for sports enthusiasts.

Volunteers will teach mini-courses in Web design, photography, video editing and basic finance. Tutors will be available to help students study or use the iPod homework stations.

The stations are set up so youngsters can listen to wall-mounted iPods while they do their homework. The iPods will have the kind of music kids enjoy: "Like Gregorian Chant," Ben Rose said, laughing. "...But no Kenny-G."

For those who like to make their own music, the Hub will have a performance stage and music lessons.

Ben Rose is getting together with community leaders and potential volunteers to tell them about the center. On Wednesday he met with the Rotary Club.

Rotarian Leslie Dahl said she was impressed.

"I think the Hub is an excellent idea. I think it's sorely needed in our community," Dahl said. "I do think sometimes the isolation here and the peer pressure makes it difficult to make good choices. So that's why I think its a great idea to give kids a place to be where it's a positive environment. ...I think it's something the community needs to get behind"

Even though members of the church are contributing the bulk of the funds for the center, teens of all faiths are invited. The same goes for volunteers. The center is not an extension of JCC's youth groups. Mike Rose said there was no intention of proselytizing, although if a student asks him about spirituality, he said he'd talk about his own beliefs.

"Our purpose is not to force our faith on anyone," he said. "We just want the kids to be successful," he said.

"Youths are going to want to be in this place," said Ben Rose. "There's nothing else like it in Juneau."

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