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September 13, 2013
By Ms. Julie Lucas (IMCOM)

Young people in the Vicenza Military Community have a new hangout to call their own. The doors of the Youth Center on Villaggio, a project that had been in the works for more than three years, opened Sept. 9 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"A dream project, now a reality," said Youth Center Director John-Luca Harbeson. "This is where our youth will definitely want to come and hang out. With this new facility we will continue to enable our youth to have a strong sense of belonging, supportive relationships, strong ambitions and good opportunities."

The new facility is designed to accommodate 150 teens in grades 6-12. It consists of activity rooms, open gathering spaces, computer study and homework areas, video gaming, art, a gymnasium and snack area. Teens enrolled with CYSS will be able to sign themselves in and use of the center is completely free. It is estimated that the current center has an average of 100 users daily. The center will also house the offices for the Child, Youth and School Services Youth Sports and Fitness staff.

According to Youth Center officials, the contract to build the facility was awarded in June 2010 with a total cost of nearly $5 million, including $1 million budgeted for furniture, fixtures and equipment. The youth center building on Villaggio that it replaces was built in 1961.

The current Teen Center on Caserma Ederle will remain open until the new high school is built on Villaggio so that high school students will have a convenient place to gather after school and on weekends. The new Villaggio Youth Center, located a short walk from the middle school, is funded based on attendance, which could in turn lead to the addition of staff based on the success of the facility, said officials.

"The completion of the new Youth Center means that Vicenza can now proudly say that every single CYSS facility, with the exception of the Teen Center, which will close when the new high school is built, is either brand new or has been recently renovated," said CYSS Coordinator Eric Weisel. "The families stationed in Vicenza are truly fortunate to have such quality facilities to which to send their children."

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by a barbecue for community members.