Local News

Chavis Community Center Better Than Ever

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RALEIGH — It took $1.8 million dollars to renovate the Chavis Community Center. Now the center is ready to show off its improvements with a grand re-opening.

The center opened at noon Tuesday, after three years of work. Among the changes are a new swimming pool, weight room and media center that could soon be filled with computers. Tennis courts are still under construction, and the gym has a whole new appeal.

The Chavis Community Center staff hope young people will find its facilities inviting.

"This will make a world of difference," says Gwen Chunn, director of youth services for the center. "It's an opportunity for youngsters here. I means they have a place right close to where they live where they have folks who care what's going on with them when they're out of school. It provides an alternative to hanging out on the block, so to speak, and getting in trouble."

Kirk Matthews is the director of the new center. He says his programs will provide structure for the children who come in.

The structure includes a policy that children must have a study time and complete their homework before they can play. Tutoring and homework assistance is available.

Students Asia Hayes and James Cooper told WRAL-TV5'sKelly Wrightthat they wouldn't be doing as well if they were home alone.

Experts say juvenile crime in public housing areas drops when an after-school program is in place.

David Little, a Raleigh police officer assigned to Chavis Heights, says housing areas or communities without after-school programs can leave children with nothing to do. Editor's Note:

Research shows that the earlier a child begins to stay at home alone, the more likely he is to become involved in such troublesome things as teen pregnancy and juvenile crime.

Juvenile arrests dropped 75 percent in housing projects where after-school programs were offered. Arrests increased by 67 percent in projects where there were no activities. The programs reduced vandalism, promoted better behavior, and improved academic performance in students.