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(LISTEN): Youth center leader says Columbia’s youth can do great things, but must remain motivated

(LISTEN): Youth center leader says Columbia’s youth can do great things, but must remain motivated

Columbia’s new P.E.A.C.E. and H.O.P.E center for youth on North Providence includes a state-of-the-art podcast room (January 2024 photo from 939 the Eagle’s Brian Hauswirth)

Officials from Columbia’s new youth center near Providence and Ash say no expense was spared at the center and that these children deserve the best. Columbia Destiny of H.O.P.E. executive director Lonnie Lockhart Bey describes it as a safe space that also teaches children life skills.

“That’s why this building looks the way it looks. Because we wanted the best for the best,” Lockhart Bey says.

The new P.E.A.C.E. and H.O.P.E. center for youth opened in late January. In addition to being a safe place, the facility also provides a location for young people to study, do schoolwork and have fun when their homework is done.

While Lockhart Bey says outside influences are impacting Columbia’s children and youth, he emphasizes there’s still hope for them. Mr. Lockhart Bey says some of the distractions are almost generational.

“And when I say generational I’m not talking about passed down from family to family, I’m talking about sideways where society is passing this around amongst this generation. Everything somebody do somebody else want to do. And so you’ve got people wearing pajamas everywhere they go. Pajamas are meant for your house but they’re in the stores, they at the show, I mean they’re at the movies,” says Lockhart Bey.

Mr. Lockhart Bey tells 939 the Eagle that while he disagrees with a lot of things in this younger generation, he agrees with most things in that generation. He says they’re smarter than we were because of technology. Mr. Lockhart Bey also emphasizes Columbia’s youth can do great things, but they have to be motivated to bring out the best in them.

Columbia’s city council approved using $320,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money for the youth center project.