Armory Youth Project to host Night of Play

MANISTEE —  Since opening in June, the Armory Youth Project has seen more than 400 middle and high school students from around the area enter its doors.

The youth center — located at 555 First St. in Manistee — will welcome Manistee County’s youngest generation from 5-7 p.m. on Friday for an event entitled, “Night of Play.”

“We want to not only encourage families to play with their kids but give them the opportunity to do so at the armory,” said Robert Carpenter, executive director of the Armory Youth Project. “We are opening the armory to families with younger children, up through fifth grade, to come out for a free evening and have a place to play.”

The armory will offer dodge ball, basketball, ping pong, pool, board games, a balloon room and even a space to ride tricycles if children bring them. The event and its activities are free while pizza and snacks available for purchase on site.

“Especially as it gets colder, there are fewer places to go and play with your little ones,” Carpenter said. “We really want to provide them a warm place to play with plenty of activities to choose from .

“It’s just a time to let families get a night out and let parents have fun with their kids.”

Carpenter said children should be accompanied by their parents or guardian at the event. He added that the Armory Youth Project is planning to hold an event of its type on a monthly or bi-monthly basis through the winter.

 

The Armory Youth Project’s regular open hours are from 3:30-6:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 3:30-8 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Carpenter said 231 different middle and high school students, with representation from each of Manistee County’s school districts, have visited during open hours to take advantage of the project’s free programming and opportunities, which include tutoring, home work help, recreation mentoring and fine arts.

“When you include our special events on top of that, we’ve had over 400,” he added. “The amount of kids we’ve seen so far proves how big of a need this really was. We realized it was a need, and this validates it.”

Of course, the Armory Youth Project relies on its volunteer base. To date, nearly 1,000 volunteer hours have been invested.

“It’s been really cool to see,” Carpenter said, “not just the kids who have come in, but all the volunteers who have committed hours and hours and hours to be here, to guarantee that there are open hours available to the kids.”

And the kids, he said, have been asking for more.

“They’ve been asking us to stay open even longer, which we’re welcome to as long as we have volunteers,” he said. “We really work with a volunteer’s schedule, so they don’t feel forced to come in at times that aren’t convenient for them.”

To volunteer, or to donate monetarily for supplies and programming, visit the armoryyouthproject.com.

“We’ve told the kids: This is your place. It will be what you make it,” Carpenter added. “Whatever they want to see happen here, we’re here to make it happen.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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