Youth Center starts the school year with a bang

Lawton_The Lawton Housing Authority Youth Center threw a back to school bash Thursday.  It was kind of a last hurrah before school starts on Friday and to celebrate the last day of summer vacation.  The day was filled with games, sports and of course, food.  And, it doesn't end there.  The Youth Center offers a place for kids to go every day after school.  It isn't just a safe place for kids to go and have fun.  It's also a place where they can learn skills for their future.

The kids had a pool and domino tournament, as well as a basketball "shoot out" to add to the celebration.  LPS Superintendent Barry Beauchamp even stopped by to encourage the kids about the coming school year.  "Our test scores in Oklahoma are better than they've ever been...that's you did that," Beauchamp told them.

Youth Director Bryan Weaver wants to make sure the neighborhood kids are safe after school.

"We're basically trying to reach out to the kids and let them know that they have a positive place to go where there is no negativity, no gang affiliation or no drugs and stuff going on in this area," Weaver said.  In fact, this is the place where Weaver says he has always wanted to be.

"I have the opportunity to try to reach the kids before they get into trouble.  And give them a positive place to go and give them words of encouragement where they won't be led into the wrong direction," Weaver said.

The Youth Center gives opportunities to kids; like hot meals, field trips and even a computer lab continue their education and perhaps further their future careers.  The Center has been open all summer and will remain open all year.  "This is a good, positive place for their kids to go and this is an opportunity for them to be able to do good things," Weaver told 7News.

"These kinds of facilities are just invaluable in our community and the people who work in them are saints.  They really and truly have tremendous influence on the lives of these children," Weaver said.  "And we all need to take a minute to influence the life of a child."

The Center is open weekdays from noon to 8pm and the computer lab is open to adults as well as kids.  The Boys and Girls Club at 1315 SW F also offers after school programs; call Lawton Public Schools for more info.