LAWRENCE, Kan. –It will not be long before all middle and high school students in Lawrence have a state of the art facility where they can explore education and career opportunities, build character and increase healthy lifestyles. Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence Executive Director Colby Wilson announced that the organization will break ground on the Don & Beverly Gardner Center for Great Futures, Thursday, August 10 at 8 a.m.
Co-chairs Al and Sue Hack led the Great Futures Start Here campaign, directing a steering committee of Club volunteers and staff to secure more than $4 million to construct the facility. Named after Don Red Dog Gardner and his wife, Beverly, the building also serves as a tribute to the couple that has been longtime volunteers and supporters of the Boys & Girls Club. Wilson credits their work – and the work of many dedicated public servants – as the reason this groundbreaking moment is possible.
“I want to thank our staff, volunteers and community leaders who came together to make this project a reality,” Wilson humbly stated. “This facility will be a tool that gives our Club staff and partners the ability to have an impact on so many more young people. Our goal is that ALL kids in Lawrence graduate high school with a plan for the future. With this new facility and the partnership we have in place with our local school district, we now have the capacity to make progress on this goal.”
Wilson is referring to the fact that the current Boys & Girls Club Teen Center can only serve 70 kids on a daily basis. A waiting list develops every year in mid-August, when enrollment is opened for the city’s middle school and high school students. That means less than one percent of Lawrence’s middle school and high school students can attend the Club. Thats a far cry from the 63 percent of Lawrence’s public elementary school students who belong to the Boys & Girls Club and the 1,500 students who attend Club activities every day.
Scheduled to open in August 2018, the Center for Great Futures will connect to the Lawrence College and Career Center (LCCC) at 29th and Haskell. The architecture plans call for a 18,000-square foot facility that will include a teaching kitchen, audio and video production rooms, creative arts and makers space, a gymnasium and a performing arts and dance space area. Additionally, with the connection to the College and Career Center, Club teens will have access to robotics, a science lab, a 3D printer, blended learning and technology workspaces and much more. Because of the partnership, both facilities will be in use during school, after school and during the summer. When construction is complete, the Boys & Girls Club teens will go from 6,000-square feet of space in their current facility to an impressive 50,000-square feet.
“We are excited for the addition of the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center to our College and Career Center. Lawrence Public Schools have enjoyed a strong relationship with the Boys & Girls Club for many years,” said Kyle Hayden,USD 497’s Chief Operating Officer. “The results speak for themselves in terms of increasing academic support and mentorship, while decreasing behavioral issues. The Boys & Girls Club provides a positive place for kids to go before and after school. The district would like to see the Clubs outreach extend to more of our middle and high schoolers.
The groundbreaking ceremony will take place Thursday, August 10 at 8 a.m. on the site of the Center for Great Futures (2910 Haskell Ave). The Club is encouraging all community members interested in the facility and the Clubs plan to serve more teens to attend the ceremony. Tours of the site and the Lawrence College and Career will be offered after the ceremony. For more information, contact Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org visitbgclk.org/GreatFutures.