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For more than 20 years, a building on Burnham Avenue has been a place “where everything centers on youth.”

It's where the Patti Leach Youth Center,  at 18123 Burnham Ave., has followed its mission of being “committed to providing opportunities for Lansing youth in grades 6 to 12 to socialize in a fun, safe and positive environment.”

This school year, 100 students are registered to participate in programs at the facility, said Aneisha Titsworth, director of the Patti Leach Youth Center.

The center is named for Patti Leach, a former Lansing gym teacher, village trustee and park board member who was instrumental in its development after she died in 2010. It usually hosts about 25 to 35 students a day, Titsworth said.

“Children tend to come early and stay late,” said Titsworth, who became director in May. “They are able to be free and be themselves here.”

She sees how crucial the facility is for the community.

“Not only are we the only space located within our neighborhood, we are also the only place with most reasonable/lowest price for youth,” Titsworth said, “Not only does this allow anyone to be here, but we act as a safe haven for youth.”

All it takes for membership is an annual photo identification card, available for  $10 from the village.

When school is in session, the center is open from 3:30-8 p.m. Monday through Friday. During the summer, it's open from 2-7 p.m. weekdays.

Members also can bring a friend on Fridays for a $2 fee.

While there, students have a wide array of programs in which they can participate as well as several clubs they can join.

A civic engagement group there is called Yes Club.

“They are responsible for community service projects within the center,” Titsworth said.

There's also an Art Club as well as a new Drama Club. Titsworth said the center is working on a Culinary Club with a projected November launch date.

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Young women's and men's mentoring groups were available during the summer.

“It was a success and I’m proud to say that we will be launching another session of both groups starting in October,” she said.

There is a computer lab for members, where they can do homework as well as monitored online activities.

Students also can play video games in the game room.

“I love that they are comfortable and enjoy it here,” Titsworth said, “Keeping the center open not only guarantees youth are being safe (outside) of school time, but with the plans I have for the center, youth will also be able to learn and experience something new and exciting while here.”

In addition to the numerous activities and clubs at the center, there also are field trips. Titsworth said the group will be visiting an apple orchard as well as Six Flags Great America for Fright Fest.

And the center also will host a family day in November, as well as a Christmas and winter celebration.

As new clubs, programs and events are developed for members, there have been several improvements to the facility itself.

“We just started painting the walls, and we have fixed the windows,” Titsworth said. “We are anxiously waiting for the new floors and carpet in the teen rooms.”

Other major enhancements in the works at the facility include exterior work.

Titsworth said there are plans to paint a mural, create a seating area and establish a garden.

“Once completed, the center will be a truly beautiful place where youth can enjoy themselves,” Titsworth said.

Call 708-418-8050 for information.

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