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East River Community Center Gets a Teen-Centric Makeover

For many teenagers who live in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residences in East Harlem, the East River Community Center is like a second home. The center is a one-stop shop for teens to study, play games, dance, and safely spend time with their friends. These teens now have a specific space to call their own thanks to the generosity of Bloomberg L.P., the financial news and data company, and The Alpha Workshops, a non-profit that provides HIV-positive individuals with access to the decorative arts industry.
Before & after photos of room inside East River Community Center. Slideshow below (Photos by LETICIA BARBOZA)

Bloomberg sponsored an essay contest in cooperation with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City for teens at NYCHA residences to describe why their community center would most benefit from a new, teen-oriented “Club House.” After winning the contest, youth who gather at the East River Community Center, can now enjoy their very own teen clubhouse, which consists of two rooms at the center now include stylish furniture, books, a kiln and craft supplies.

“We are delighted. We learned about art and even the stock market. We worked alongside volunteers from Bloomberg and The Alpha Workshops to get these rooms ready,” said local Teen Council president Brandi Roberts at the unveiling ceremony on July 10. “The rooms aren’t just for teens but for everybody who uses this center.”

In their winning essay, the teens wrote about how the Club House will provide them with a place where they can relax and feel free to develop their minds and skills in a stress-free environment, while having fun with their peers. “We have an incredible team of youth re-envisioning their space and their communities, and it shows the potential and leadership our youth has,” said NYCHA Chairman John B. Rhea. “We need to give our youth more opportunities like these to create better environments.”

Juan Rivera, an active youth leader, helped give the rooms their new look, including its paint job. “Before, the rooms didn’t look as attractive. Hopefully now the kids will want to use the space because the colors are so vibrant and inviting,” he said. “This is great.”

By Ryan Dicovitsky with Zodet Negrón 
July 31, 2012

View photos from the East River Community Center ribbon-cutting ceremony
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