ORLANDO, Fla. — The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida cut the ribbon Friday on what they’re calling their largest facility in the area Friday.
The new, 30,000 square foot complex sits on Lakeland Ave. near Orange Center Elementary school in the West Lakes neighborhood, just south of Camping World Stadium.
It’s a neighborhood with a rich African-American history that has been underserved for decades.
The new Boys & Girls Club will serve more than 200 children a day, including first-grader Kevin Wynn who lives within walking distance.
“I think it was pretty amazing,” Wynn says. “I’m happy about it because I get to do all fun things.”
The club will be the largest of 35 operated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida. The $9 million facility sits in the middle of an underserved area that lacks safe places for kids to learn and grow.
“It’s going to be free. Many of these families do not have the economic capabilities for extracurricular activities and tutoring and different opportunities,” Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill said at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the facility Friday.
10-year-old twins Millie and Bella Donaldson live directly across the street. They were the first official members of the new club and were on-hand at the ribbon cutting to welcome the public.
“There’s gonna be a lot of exciting things that we will be able to do.”
The Donaldson family has lived inside the Pendana at West Lakes affordable housing community for nearly a year, and their mother says her twins enjoyed and deserved their moment in the spotlight.
“Sometimes they are last in line in our community, society, and world, but for them to know that they are important, and they are the first members...I think that’s a big deal.”
The state of the art club features music rooms, tech labs, and a college and career center, as well as a full-sized gymnasium.
It officially opens to the public April 12.