“Wow” “What?!” “Oh my gosh!”
Those were just some of the reactions from the teens at CC’s Little Village Club as they walked into the new Panda Cares Center of Hope teen lounge last month. The room displayed a new floor plan, wall art, technology, and furniture. The renovation was donated by Panda Express.
The Panda Cares Foundation is partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to open 35 more rooms at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago was honored to open the first center, opening at the oldest Club in the organization, CC's Little Village Club.
Now a month in, the kids are fully embracing their teen center.
“Having a space of their own, new technology, and a place to do homework, it means a lot," CC’s Little Village Club Director Edgar Abarca said. “They are a whole lot more comfortable because the space is clean, bright, and there’s just a lot of cool technology. And this summer we can’t wait to use the space even more.”
The Club has been more focused on asking teens what they want, and then really listening and acting on what they are hearing.
“I think the teens are staying in the building longer, and I can attribute that to the room,” Abarca said.
For teens, having a separate space dedicated away from the younger Club members is so important. It gives them autonomy and provides them with a place to bond with their peers. It also allows them to have a focused area where they can get help on homework or focus on college applications without distractions from home or elsewhere in the Club.
“I’m thankful for my Club because it’s my second home,” teen Club member Brian said. “The staff at the Club has been role models for the past 10, and they just deserve this space, and for the rest of the kids as well.”
To view a video that highlights the room, the partnership with Panda Express and the grand opening, click here.