No longer will the administration of the city’s youth and recreation services be under two roofs.
In a collaboration effort between the City and Borough of Juneau’s Parks &Recreation Department and community partners, all administration for youth recreation programs and youth social programs will be housed at the Zach Gordon Youth Center, 396 Whittier St.
“We hope that having all these programs housed under one roof will allow for a more seamless connection between all our youth programs, increased community collaboration, and increased access to sports for youth who are interested, but may need a little extra support to get engaged,” Kirk Duncan, Parks &Recreation Director, said in email to the Empire. “We see the ‘one-stop-shop’ aspect as a win for families as well.”
Recreation Coordinator, Amanda Lovejoy, who has been located in the Parks &Recreation Department in City Hall, will be moving her office to the Center in the beginning of May. Lovejoy is in charge of running Youth Sports, like Start Smart, youth indoor/outdoor soccer and basketball programs and working closely with coaches, parents and families. The Zach Gordon Youth Center is already the home to CBJ’s youth social services, like after-school and summer programming.
Duncan added the community played a major role in making this change. From what input the Parks &Recreation Department received, combining all the youth programs made the most sense going forward.
“Over the past year or so, we’ve been reaching out to the community to get feedback and input for our Master Planning Process. Community input is an incredibly important aspect of ensuring our services match what the community wants,” Duncan said. “Through that process, we heard a lot about prioritizing youth programs, building on, and increasing the programs and services we provide to youth in Juneau.”
Also with the addition of more after-school programs at the Zach Gordon Youth Center, Duncan said, it made it easier to add sports.
“Over the past two and a half years, we have expanded our programs at Zach Gordon Youth Center to include after-school programming in the middle schools, outreach and referral services for youth and families in need, Youth Employment in Parks, and various other partner supported activities that work to enhance protective factors for youth in our community,” Duncan said. “So, we think it makes sense to roll youth sports into that family of programs.”
Ultimately, the combination of everything at one central location will just make it easier for the community.
“The goal is to provide recreational and social opportunities for all of the Juneau’s youth regardless of ability level or life circumstance, and to ultimately serve the community better,” Duncan said.
• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at email@example.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.