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Grandview teens offered after-school programs at new center

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Playing a game of air hockey is Pablo Causor (left) and Steven Ramirez.

GRANDVIEW - Students in Grandview now have a safe, fun place to go when school is not in session.

The Extra Mile Student Center, located across from city hall, is a center designed to provide youngsters in grades 7-12 a place to go for tutoring, internet access, studying and activities.

Gene and Kathy Iwami have for a long time envisioned a safe place for Grandview's youth to go after school.

Mrs. Iwami said the couple gathered the support of friends to make the dream become a reality.

Initial funding support was provided by friends of the Iwamis. That support was in the form of a $1,000 commitment for a year's rent.

"The funding has been set aside for now, though," said Mrs. Iwami, stating Kenyon's Zero Storage provided space for the student center rent free for the 2011-12 school year.

"The community has really supported us," said Iwami.

There have been donations both monetarily and for supplies provided by various community members and businesses.

The center has eight internet-ready computers, of which approximately five are already set up.

Youngsters can play a game of air hockey, pool or foosball.

"We wanted to give the youth a safe place with adult supervision," said Mrs. Iwami.

Mr. Iwami for several years served as youth pastor at the Grandview Church of the Nazarene. Mrs. Iwami said that experience led the couple to the conclusion Grandview needed somewhere for youngsters in the community to go after school.

The couple's passion for youth is obvious in the way they spend time helping youngsters at the student center.

Mrs. Iwami enthusiastically shared all the amenities that are currently provided there. A large room with tables for students to sit and study is available and the couple hopes to convert a back room into a theater and presentation room. The couple plans to provide students using the center the opportunity to use the room for practicing presentations, playing video games or watching movies.

Volunteers helped convert the space into what it is. Old shelving used for paint and other supplies was torn down, the walls received a fresh coat of paint and a mural by Tri-Cities artist Lisa Brouwer will soon grace one of the walls.

Approximately 15 students each day use the center. They are treated to snacks, as well as personal time with volunteers helping the Iwamis at the center.

The center is open Tuesday and Thursday from 2 to 9 p.m., Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m., Friday from 1 to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Any youngster in grades 7-12 can visit the center, which has received its non-profit status.

Volunteers and additional funding for programs are welcome, said Mrs. Iwami.

She said the support is all private, although the Grandview School District has provided chalkboards and storage for several tables.

"We are also in the process of seeking grant funding," said Iwami, stating the center is in need of financial support to pay staff.

For more information, contact the Iwamis at the center, located at 206 West Second Street, or call 882-0363.

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