New Boys and Girls Club hosting open house on Nov. 7

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After some bumps and a few postponements in opening, the newest branch of the Warwick Boys & Girls Club (“The Club”) will host an informational and celebratory open house on Nov. 7 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at 885 Sandy Lane, where the Lloyd Cooper Army Reserve Center used to operate.

“A Night at the Club” will be an opportunity for kids and parents to experience all the exciting amenities of the new recreational space, including a state-of-the-art video lab, a recording studio and cutting-edge technology throughout, such as two Promethean Boards, smart TVs and a virtual reality station.

“Giving young teens options to thrive and have fun – that is the goal the new Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick branch. The Club will provide a wide array of fun activities that foster creativity, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) skill building, healthy lifestyles and self-expression,” states a press release advertising the open house.

Following the open house, official club activities will officially commence for teen programming on Nov. 13. Boys & Girls Club of Warwick executive director Lara D’Antuono is relieved that the club is finally approaching its open date.

About a month ago, the Warwick City Council denied a bid from a contractor looking to install a sprinkler system into the building due to various concerns of the finance committee in regards to what they viewed as a lack of crucial information within the bid. The denial delayed the initial opening date in early October.

As a result, D’Antuono worked with the city fire marshal and city building inspector to consider options that didn’t necessitate installing fire sprinklers. The result was an agreement to limit the number of people allowed in the former drill hall – now a multi-purpose gymnasium for the Club – to a capacity of 300.

In such a scenario, sprinklers are not required. If an event is planned where more than 300 people would be in the gym, they can set up a fire watch with the city as a precaution.

The plan was agreed to by the fire marshal and building inspector, according to D’Antuono, and the renovations have moved forward since. The large hurdles that remain include exterior landscaping and the installation of equipment, along with finishing touches such as the new sign to be located out front, which is in the process of being made and shipped.

On the inside, bright shades of yellow, orange, slime green, purple and sky blue paint now coat the walls which were formerly drab shades of gray and white. What was once a firing range will become a soundproofed music studio, with space for a full band to play, a separate singing recording studio and comprehensive equipment for sound mixing.

There will be a fully-equipped digital lab, with software for editing graphics, video and audio. The gymnasium will feature traditional recreational options, like basketball hoops, but will also mix in modern marvels such as a virtual reality gaming center and interactive, motion-capture games.

There will be a creative center with a screen printing station, a kitchen area to help kids prepare healthy meals and learn crucial basic cooking skills and, most recently thanks to a $25,000 donation from Hasbro Hospital, a physical exercise space where kids can learn various dances and do healthy exercise such as yoga. There will be top-speed WiFi provided by Cox and Yogibo lounge seating throughout the facility.

One major goal of the new branch is to provide supplemental training for middle school-aged kids in techniques and tools that are only becoming more in-demand, such as utilizing computer editing software.

“We’re training and preparing kids for jobs that we don’t even know exist yet,” said D’Antuono. “Find your passion, find what you’re good at, and we’ll provide you with the tools and the opportunities to develop those skills.”

However the other goal of the club perhaps proves more invaluable than training life and career skills. Kids may show up to the club and make a friend for life.

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