McKeesport (October 4, 2023) – Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania opened The Club Teen Center in McKeesport with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and community event. The Club Teen Center is a direct response to tackling the community challenges that many youths are experiencing that can seriously impact their mental health and ability to thrive.
The new site was established in partnership with UPMC McKeesport and UPMC Health Plan and is a relocation and expansion of their previous Career Works Mon Valley location, which opened in 2019. Program funding comes in part from a $1.5M grant championed by U. S. Senator Bob Casey to deliver the award-winning Teen Outreach Program to 12 locations across Allegheny, Somerset, Westmoreland, and Fayette Counties. Additional support comes from Allegheny County and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, now chaired by former Club Kid and McKeesport native, Pennsylvania’s Lt. Governor Austin Davis.
“Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania makes a difference in the lives of young people in McKeesport and throughout the region by providing the support and resources they need to build confidence and lead healthy and productive lives,” Senator Casey said. “I fought for this award to expand the Teen Outreach Program, including opening a brand-new McKeesport Club Teen Center, to help every child access opportunities to reach their full potential.”
“The kids of McKeesport deserve opportunities to thrive and too often they are presented with obstacles that limit their potential,” said Lt. Governor Austin Davis, a McKeesport native. “As a former ‘Club Kid,’ I know what type of impact Boys & Girls Club programs can have on your future and I am thrilled to see this renewed commitment to the community with their newest location – The Club Teen Center in McKeesport.”
“Over the last 12 years, my administration has focused on ensuring that the children who call this county home are prepared to thrive and succeed. That effort has included direct support in Mon Valley communities, including McKeesport, where there are fewer connections,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We are grateful to have partners like Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania who can positively engage youth and teens by providing safe places, dedicated mentors, and programs that connect kids to opportunities of the future.”
Dedicated to preparing teens for success in careers and life, The Club Teen Center is over four times larger than the previous Career Works location, with capacity to serve up to 45 teens daily and programming that will serve over 150 teens each year. Teens have the opportunity to participate in programs including workforce development, college and career preparation, job training, academic support, financial literacy, mentoring, health and fitness, and mental health counseling. These programs are available at no cost to the teens, with donors providing them a stipend for participation.
“I feel there is no coincidence that we are seeing rising challenges with teens and communities with a decline in out-of-school-time opportunities after the pandemic.” stated Christopher Watts, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania. “What gives me hope is that I know we can be part of the solution, as data consistently shows – when there is a Boys & Girls Clubs in your community – outcomes improve, and risky behaviors decrease.”
This responsibility is reflected in a new awareness campaign celebrating the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania 135-year history, called “FOR KIDS.” Focused on providing access to the world class educational, cultural, sports, healthcare, and technology resources in the region while removing barriers like cost and transportation to the more than the 5000+ youth and families BGCWPA serves throughout 17 locations.
“The new Teen Center is only one piece of the family, school, and community resources needed to prepare kids for life.” said Watts. “We know so many people and organizations in McKeesport, and throughout the region, care deeply about their community and today’s announcement is to let them know that we are here to support and collaborate as we have for the last 135 years – for kids”
The open house at The Club Teen Center, McKeesport at 1305 5th Avenue, McKeesport, PA 15132 included members of the Boys & Girls Clubs Board and Staff, teens and Club Kids, McKeesport and Mon Valley Neighbors, Community Stakeholders, School Leaders, and Elected Officials and their representatives.
For more information, visit www.bgcwpa.org