SEASIDE - After seven months of repair work, the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District's drop-in youth room will reopen today.

The free after-school program is located in the youth center next to the Sunset Pool. It offers a supervised, yet unstructured, space for students in sixth through 12th grades or at least 11 years old.

Other programs, such as a preschool and toddler play groups will move back into the center Oct. 13. Two other rooms in the center are still being finished.

The building has been under construction to repair dry rot and bug damage. Although the initial hope was to reopen the center this summer, the date was pushed back after contractors discovered the damage was much more extensive than first thought. The building was first constructed in December 1990.

The drop-in room is open from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 3:30 to 9 p.m. Friday; noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The room is approximately 800-square feet, more than half of the building's 1,500-square-foot size. Large windows on all exterior walls let in light and provide clear vision paths to the playground and the space between the center and Broadway Middle School.

The room is simply a place where youth can hang out, SEPRD Executive Director Mary Blake said. Youth must sign in and out, but are not required to stay for a certain length of time or participate in a particular activity. The room will be supervised by Silvia Bonner, who is bilingual and will help develop a high school tutoring group. And while adults are welcome to peek in or act as a tutor or mentor, the room is strictly a place for youth.

"They can let off steam from school, unwind, do homework, eat," Blake said. "We want them to consider this room an extension of their home."

Games, puzzles, computers and age-appropriate video games and videos will be available. Foosball, table hockey and ping-pong tables stand ready. A reference library will help with homework.

The program offers further opportunities for students who participate in SEPRD's Broadway Middle School after-school program, which runs from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Students may walk between the school to the drop-in room without having to cross a street.

Other youth center programs include:

• Indoor play group, 0 to 4 years old. Free.

• Parent and baby group sponsored by Providence Seaside Hospital. Free.

• Step by Step preschool, 3 to 5 years old.

• Mudpies art exploration, 2 to 5 years old.

• Giggleworms movement and music, 2 to 5 years old.

• After school kid's Positive Leisure Activities for Youth (PLAY), kindergarten through fifth grade.

• Java jams, ninth through 12th grade.

For more information about the programs or fees, call 738-3311.


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