In addition to backpacks, binders and book covers, the children at two federally assisted complexes in Bellevue will also start the school year with new after-school learning facilities.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue, the King County Housing Authority and other community partners, including King County Councilmember Jane Hague and Rep. Cyrus Habib will celebrate the grand re-opening of both the Hidden Village and Spiritwood Manor Clubhouses on Sept. 12. The Clubhouses are part of a network of after-school facilities developed by KCHA, including three in Bellevue, to provide after-school programs for youth living in assisted housing and in the surrounding community. These much-needed facilities along the 148th Street corridor will allow Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue to increase the educational opportunities for this neighborhood. An expanded and rebuilt Clubhouse at Eastside Terrace opened in February 2012.
“These facilities are critical investments in our youth,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith. “Literacy rates and test scores are low for our poorest students. Closing the achievement gap is vital. By enabling access to high-quality after-school programs, KCHA and Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue are providing much-needed resources that prepare our kids for the competitive global economy and make sure they have the skills they need to successfully enter the workforce.”
The Hidden Village and Spiritwood Manor Clubhouses, which were closed during construction, began operating again last week, coinciding with the start of the 2013-14 school year. The Clubhouses provide quality youth programs that develop positive kids and communities. Said one Club parent, “It allows my child to be surrounded by a great diverse group of people and make new friends.”
The enlarged buildings allow the Boys & Girls Club to expand program initiatives including “Girl Start”, a program that encourages girls to engage in STEM learning, “Netsmartz”; an Internet safety initiative for members and their families, and “BE Healthy, BE Great”, a program that promotes healthy lifestyles and attitudes through fun and active games.
The Hidden Village facility, which serves about 60 youngsters, was expanded to 4,646 square feet of program space. The Spiritwood Manor facility, which serves about 50 children, tripled its footprint to 3, 125 square feet, The facilities are light-filled and welcoming, designed with both learning and fun in mind. The construction cost of the two centers was $2.5 million and was paid for by the Housing Authority.
“The re-opening of these ‘clubhouses’ in our community is significant because it’s the culmination of two organizations working together in a way that is different than what we’ve traditionally seen,” said Stephanie Cherrington, interim executive director of Eastside Pathways. “These are two organizations that were each doing good work on their own, but realized that when they work together, the ability to effectively serve the kids in these communities would be so much more significant. That is the beauty of collective impact.”
Previously, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue operated its programs at Hidden Village and Spiritwood Manor from undersized, outdated spaces. Designed by Tonkin Hoyne Architecture and Urban Design, the new facilities feature classrooms, computer labs, multipurpose activity areas, kitchens, and art rooms. Evergreen Sustainability Standards were incorporated into their design. In addition, kids at Hidden Village were able to assist with the creation of a community art installation with the guidance of artist Kristen Tollefson.
“King County Housing Authority continues to make a significant investment in the future of our kids” states Ryan Scott, vice president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue. “Our partnership with them is critical to making a positive impact in the community.”
KCHA’s investment in these community facilities was prompted by its commitment to education as the most effective path out of poverty for its residents. While having a stable place to live is a necessary pre-condition to success in school, it is not sufficient.
“While there is, certainly, an immediate pressing need for more affordable housing, the long term solution to the affordable housing crisis is not housing – it is assuring that low-income children succeed in school,” said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority. “By providing access to high-quality after-school programs, coordinated with the Bellevue School District and delivered by the Boys & Girls Clubs, we are providing the resources to help kids with their futures and economic prospects.”
King County Councilmember Jane Hague supports the Housing Authority’s commitment to championing the success of its children living in public housing and the innovative partnerships that make it possible.
“The longstanding partnership between Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue and KCHA means kids win,” said King County Councilmember Jane Hague. “With these terrific new after-school facilities, youngsters get inspiring places to grow academically and socially.”
The grand re-opening celebration will be held at the Spiritwood Clubhouse at 4 p.m. and at Hidden Village Clubhouse at 4:30 PM, with the Club transporting attendees from one site to the next.
Hidden Village is a 78-unit garden community located at 14508 S.E .24th St. Spiritwood Manor, which is located at 1424 148th Ave. S.E., has 130 units. Both complexes are owned and managed by the King County Housing Authority.
KCHA administers a range of quality affordable rental and homeownership programs in the Puget Sound region. The Authority serves more than 18,000 families, elderly and disabled households on a daily basis. These families include 20,000 children.
For more information regarding this partnership, please contact Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue at 425-454-6162 or visit www.bgcbellevue.org
Photos by William Wright Photography