Left to right, Jasmine King, Myles King, Angelina Lyons, Lilyana Inglis and Daniel McKee prepare for a musical interlude at the Ted K. Center in Plattsburgh.
Nestled amongst the hulking apartment buildings that make up the core of the Plattsburgh Housing Authority, the diminutive Ted K. Center offers a safe retreat for children from the housing authority to play, do crafts, get help with homework, garden, play video games, and just all around be kids.
An estimated 300 children under the age of 15 reside within the housing authority. With early childhood programs for children from 3 to 5 years old, and an after school program for children from 5 to 14, the center serves a core group of about 150 kids, but is open to all.
“It’s a safe place for kids to come after school,” said Education Coordinator Tom Neale. “We want to provide kids with meaningful activities. The kids here receive positive interactions with other kids and adults.”
While the majority of the activities take place inside the one story cinder-block building that comprises the center, activities can take children much further afield. Children have been taken on hiking, biking and fishing trips in the past, and participate in sports and other community activities around the city.
There are also plans in the works to utilize the Camp Tapawingo Girl Scout Camp in Point Au Roche for a two-week-long day camp.
A favorite project in the summer is the center’s vegetable garden, which dominates the front of the building, when its not blanketed in a layer of snow and ice.
As part of the Martin Luther King Day of Service, and in conjunction with the United Way, children at the Ted K. Center put together 53 backpacks consisting of hair and body wash, journals, coloring books and many other personal care items. The backpacks were distributed to the foster care unit of the Department of Social Services.
While the lion’s share of their funding comes from the Housing Authority, they have received funding or other support from the United Way of the Adirondack Region, the Clinton County Youth Bureau, the Kiwanis Club, and the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, among other agencies.
“I think it’s great that we can do that in this community, share resources,” said Neale. “And we’re happy that the board of the Housing Authority has been so supportive of us over the years.”
The Ted K. Center is planning to unveil a new media campaign in March through SUNY Plattsburgh, to get the word out about their many educational and community activities.
“We need to be part of the community,” Neale said.