Monday, February 26, 2024

Youth center proposal a boon for Flathead

by Daily Inter Lake
| May 22, 2022 12:00 AM

Last week, the valley learned more about an exciting new project on the north end of Kalispell that includes the creation of a massive, year-round youth center.

The Flathead Valley Youth Center nonprofit is behind the effort to bring the $30 million public facility to fruition. Located on Church Drive just south of Majestic Valley Arena, organizers say the 140,000-square-foot center would provide children and teens access to athletic, recreation, arts and enrichment programs “that will improve self-esteem and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Plans also call for an art annex and so-called “partner spaces” for local nonprofits to utilize.

The center is part of a larger 40-acre development that also calls for commercial space and 102 residential units.

Community leaders behind the youth center nonprofit cite the effects of “declining connectedness in our community, declining mental health among our youth, and the uptick in teen suicide.” They wanted to create a place that would bring “immediate and long-term benefits” to the valley.

“We began talking about this for two years realizing what the valley really needs is a safe place for youth that helps them empower themselves,” Tawnya Bingham, board president of the nonprofit, told the Inter Lake last week. “The youth center is envisioned as an inviting place where any kid is welcome, and every kid belongs.”

Make no mistake, this facility would be a big deal for the valley — historic even. And it exactly represents the type of forward-thinking, community-driven projects that can improve the overall quality of life for everyone who calls the Flathead home.

Kudos to nonprofit board members Tawnya and Kelcey Bingham, and Tagen Vine for spearheading this venture. An advisory committee composed of Ryan Purdy, Kacy Howard, Andre Burba and Missy Jonson is also assisting.

Fundraising is underway, and the group is actively seeking people with related experience who are willing to contribute their time to the project.

For anyone who has complained about the crush of development sweeping the valley, here’s a chance to stake a claim in a project that has the potential to bring real, positive change. Contribute, get involved, help make this vision a reality.

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