Bethel community welcomes Youth Activity Center

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 8:50 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The Bethel Youth Activity Center opened its doors on Friday, inviting young people to use the facility to stay involved with education.

The center used to be a vacant liquor store, but Dr. Garrie Moore had a plan to turn the empty space into a hub where students can get help on their school work and participate in STEM activities and programs.

After presenting the plan to Bethel, the community hopped on board and with help from the Pitt County Alcohol Board and Suddenlink, thirty computers and educational materials were donated to the center, which used to be an ABC store.

Outside the center, which used to be a vacant ABC store.
Outside the center, which used to be a vacant ABC store.(WITN)
The classroom was named "Suddenlink Technology Classroom," after the company donated 30...
The classroom was named "Suddenlink Technology Classroom," after the company donated 30 computers.(WITN)

Moore said he saw the need for young people in the area to find wholesome activities after school, especially amid the pandemic.

“I’ve always had a passion for ensuring that young folks were taken care of,” Moore said. “That they, while the school system is doing a good job, it’s important that the community get involved with young folks and stay involved.”

As a remote learning center, students can access free Wi-Fi for online classes and homework, or play educational games, read books and play with science kits.

Due to COVID-19, students and staff must wear masks and maintain social distance, with sneeze guards in between each computer. Only 20-25 youth will be allowed in the classroom at any given time, the Bethel Youth Activity Center said.

Bethel Mayor Gloristine Brown said with all that’s going on in the world, we need to help our kids.

“And living in a rural area is much harder than being in an inner-city because there’s so many opportunities,” Brown said. “But when you’re in a rural, our children have very limited things that they can do.”

Brown said the center was something she wanted to see happen for awhile so children can look towards a bright future.

“All children are not going to college or four-year university, but I think with the STEM program, it can give them a different idea about what they may want to do, and this is how it starts.”

Akeelah Stancil, 12, likes to read and write and wants to become a surgeon when she grows up.

“I like it. If someone needs help, they can come here,” Stancil said. “I think I’m gonna come here often.”

The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and students will be offered a hot meal and snacks thanks to a grant to the nonprofit organization.

“It’s a matter of doing good, good stuff,” Moore said. “Things that’s gonna help to uplift the community, things that’s gonna help the children to understand that the world is a big place, but you’re in it and you have a place in this world.”

Parents must register their students to participate in activities at the center and follow COVID-19 screening procedures.

Moore said the center is Phase 1 of the planning process. He hopes to include the vacant Piggly Wiggly next door to see if they can expand the center and turn it into a large facility where children can practice science experiments and participate in more activities.

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