Coatesville Youth Initiative celebrates new location

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Open House unveils new facility in Benner Building

By Lauren Parker-GillStaff Writer, The Times

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The Coatesville Youth Initiative literally rolled out the red carpet to welcome folks to its new facilities last week. Samuel Brown (Senior Associate Coordinator for ServiceCorps), Alazia Turner (Team Leader for ServiceCorps), and Mia Turner were just a few of the smiling faces greeting those who attended the Open House Thursday at the Benner Building.

COATESVILLE – Balloon bouquets, friendly faces and a red carpet were outside of the Benner Building last week to welcome the public to an open house that celebrated the new location for the Coatesville Youth Initiative.

Since its inception in 2009, the Coatesville Youth Initiative (CYI) had only two offices in the Luken’s Administration Building. They have upgraded to 3,395 square feet of space, including a community room and game room, in the new location they are renting from the Coatesville Area School District. It is also conveniently located within walking distance of many of the youth and families the organization serves and will also allow CYI to be a stronger presence, with more visibility in the community, group leaders say.

The organization’s youth participants have chosen the pictures, inspirational quotes and powerful messages that adorn the new location. The game room, officially called “The Pit” was made possible through a grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc and is located where the pool used to be, when the building was an elementary school.

“Our youth had a vision for the space, wrote a wish list, purchased the items and set everything up; they are in the process of setting expectations for using and maintaining the space.” explained executive director Chaya Scott in an email.

Partnered with over 40 local organizations, the CYI currently serves 2,000 youth directly and 3,000 youth indirectly, ages 12 – 24, throughout the greater Coatesville Area. The CYI’s objective is to strengthen families, increase community collaboration, address social concerns and promote positive youth development and academic success.

“The future of Coatesville rests in the hands of our youth!” said Scott

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Powerful words, messages and pictures, each chosen by the youth participants, are hanging on the walls throughout the hallways.

Ianni White, a junior at Coatesville High School and a youth participant with CYI, made it clear that the organization has a strong impact in the community.

“Being a part of CYI has inspired me and changed the way I perceive myself,” white said. “It pushes me forward to make a positive change in my community.”

The next big event for CYI is the Third Annual Coatesville Back to School: Prepare for Success Event, which is being held Friday, Aug. 28 from 3 – 6 p.m. at Scott Middle School.

CYI partners with the Coatesville Area School District, Bridge Academy and Community Center, Coatesville Center for Community Health, City of Coatesville, Coatesville Soup Kitchen, Coatesville Police Department, Coatesville Youth Initiative, County Corrections Gospel Mission, The Movement and United Way of Chester County. Many other community organizations, churches, businesses and individuals also come together to support this event by offering to provide family friendly activities, dental screenings, nutrition services and many more opportunities for services.

The back to school event helps families prepare for a successful school year, by providing school bags filled with age appropriate school supplies for students in grades K-12 in the Coatesville Area School District. In 2014, over 1,350 school bags were distributed to children in the district. After the event, school uniforms were also provided to 30 children.

According to the event website, the goal for this year is to provide 1,500 filled school bags to students. If you’d like to help, all donations will be collected through Aug. 14.

Please visit http://coatesvillebacktoschool.org/donate/ for detailed lists of items being collected and for drop-off locations.

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