Youth Center Opens in Visalia

4/6/2008 Visalia, Ca After more than 3 years of planning, the downtown Visalia youth center called "210" opened its doors Thursday. This new church-run facility hopes to attract kids from all walks of life, and keep them away from gang violence.

Joel Hedlund, Youth Coordinator said, "Its not based on what people look like where they go to church how they act it's, just based on simply loving people and providing a place for them."

The $1.6 million dollar facility took less than a year to renovate. The Visalia First Presbyterian Church owns the 100-year old building, but offers more than just faith based activities. "We're just saying 210 is going to be an opportunity for a lot of different kids with different interests, needs, different backgrounds to come into a safe environment have some coffee surf the internet and maybe make a new friend," said Pastor Rich Hansen.

"210" is open every day. Kids can stop by before or after school, as well as on weekends. Inside, they'll find a cafe, prayer room and meeting space. The center also focuses on music. A recording studio is being built, and bands are already booked for every Saturday night this month.

Local students are excited. "I think music is a big part of everything that we do in life and I know in Visalia music is a huge thing I know it is for me, I'm in a band," said Thomas Sandberg.

Student Heidi Conant said, "I think it will bring a lot more people in because it's not super preachy but we still have that faith based behind it and I think it's just a really opening environment.

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