October 3, 2022
Jessica Mathews / [email protected]
A recent dedication ceremony to celebrate the renovations at Howell’s Youth Center was attended by a very enthusiastic crowd.
The Hive Youth & Teen Center provides a safe, inclusive and interactive environment for youth and teens ages 3 to 18 from the Howell area. The youth center is used by middle and high school students to meet with friends, work on homework, and learn new skills in a safe space dedicated only to them.
Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority received a $40,000 grant from Citizens Insurance for center renovation at Bennett Recreation Center on Grand River. It now houses all youth programs as well as preschool and day camp programs.
The Hive was closed for over a year during the pandemic, and staff made preparations to reopen its doors in a new location last fall. During that time, they were able to transform the space to make it more attractive and appealing to teenagers.
Youth service director Kevin Troshak said the grant specifically helped them redesign the study lounge, adding computers, Adobe software for digital design and video editing, and Chromebooks and new furniture that was more conducive to schoolwork. He says the center offers a variety of courses for youth — from leadership programs to cooking and nutrition to human resource development and more. It also offers large recreation spaces, a creative lab, and plenty of volunteering opportunities, as well as guest speakers and special events.
Troshak noted that it’s also now a very cohesive center with new spaces that kids couldn’t access before.
A new space, previously used as storage, is now a new cafe/lounge with a coffeehouse atmosphere, offering children a quieter place to either listen to music, read books, do homework or eat and socialize in general don’t stay in the louder rooms center.
Another remodeled space will serve as the new esports arena, a fast-growing sport and staff expect it to be used whenever their doors are open. Troshak said they are now working on raising funds and writing grants for new computers as the current ones are outdated and not suitable for online gaming.
A separate grant given to teenagers by the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation raised $20,000 for a space offering both hands-on and small business experiences. It features new cabinets, counters and appliances, donated sewing machines, a button maker, t-shirt printer and a laser engraver.
The building was originally built in 1965 as a youth and youth center and for a long time was used primarily as the city’s leisure and senior center. Once the new center was built, Troshak said they could bring all of their programs together under one roof. In this way, he says, they now have the opportunity for children to grow up in a center designed especially for them – starting with pre-school at the age of 3 and continuing through to 18 years of age.
Troshak said the grant gave them the opportunity to give the building a facelift and make it more youth-friendly.
Troshak said, “The Hive has something for everyone. We always get input from our participants before adding large projects or programs to the center. They’re the ones who know what they want, so it’s up to me and the staff to listen and try to make those things happen. The addition of these new renovations not only expands the area of the center, but also expands our offer. The Study Lounge and Esports Arena were both areas that our teens said were missing from the center and with the support of this grant we were able to bring those suggestions to life! The Hive is special because it’s an open and inclusive space that teens can really call their own in the community, and I think it’s very important for teens to know how their community is supporting them.”
Citizens Insurance President Paul Mueller told WHMI they are proud to partner with HAPRA to sponsor the new youth center, which is truly at the heart of their thinking about supporting communities and their mission to youth and education. He said: “Our company values supporting youth and empowering the people who support them, and the team at HAPRA is doing just that with The Hive. We look forward to seeing the important and positive impact it will have on students in our community for years to come.”