Youth Center Expansion
Kennewick -- It has been three months since Vista Youth Center opened on Vista Way in Kenenwick. Now the center is twice it's orignial size, with as many as sixty teenagers showing up on the nights it's open.
The center is the completed vision of Mark Lee, a local man who says there is an increasing need for a safe place for kids questioning their sexuality. He opened the facility in March for gay, lesbian, and transgender kids, and for teenagers who are uncertain about their sexual identity. Already, the center has had over 1000 visits, and has doubled in size.
Lee says many young people in the community have faced mockery and scorn at school, and often their abilities are overlooked.
"We have two youth who speak five or more languages. We have incredible youth, just incredibly bright; and some don't go to school. They don't feel safe going to school."
Lee keeps careful track of demographics of the kids. He says on any given night as many as fifty percent who show up are straight, bringing with them questions about family members and friends who are not.
And he says the club is more than a place to hang out. On Tuesdays, classes are required. They range from drug and alcohol use education to social justice, and dating safety.