Teens get an ‘Edge’ in Kalaheo

KALAHEO — There was no need to tell the boys on a county 14-and-under age-group basketball team about Teen Edge.

Following their practice, they got an orientation of the recently-opened recreational room at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, gravitating almost instantly to the air hockey and foosball tables.

Shana Oyama, the youth activities coordinator at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, said county officials opened the room late last year as a “place where the youngsters can hang out after school, or after they come off the buses following school.”

The room is equipped with an air hockey table, a foosball game console, a large-screen TV and DVD player, as well as a large table where teens can simply hang, do homework, or wala’au.

Oyama said they labeled the room “Teen Edge,” and county leaders will be celebrating the grand opening of the youth facility on Thursday, from 2:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

A wide variety of activities are scheduled for the celebration, that will have free pizza and hot dogs for the youth attending the celebration.

Hip-hop dancers will provide entertainment in the gym, followed by organized games including table tennis. The event will culminate with lucky-number prizes being distributed.

“This is a safer place for the youth to hang out,” Oyama said. “It’s better than being out there where they can be influenced by drugs.

“The youth can be kept active in sports such as basketball,” Oyama pointed out, noting that the gym will be available for some of the post-school play.

Currently, there is only one more game, scheduled for March 1, for the independent-school play by St. Theresa’s School.

In addition to the current recreational offerings, Oyama noted that they will be taking delivery of an eight-foot pool table shortly.

When the pool table arrives, the foosball and air hockey tables will be moved to one wall, and the tables will probably be taken out of the room to make room for the pool table.

But, the room will still have a lounge area where the students can just get together for chatting.

Oyama said the room is open from Mondays through Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Youngsters ages 11 to 19 are welcome to enjoy the facilities.

“I’m glad the mayor approved this program,” Oyama said. Primarily, the area is designed to accommodate youth living in the Kalaheo-Lawa’i areas, “but we won’t turn anyone away,” Oyama said.

One of the parents of a basketball-team member noted, “I come from Koloa, but it’s all right, since I have to bring my daughter up here for hula, too. I can always go visit my father, and I know they have a safe place to come to after practices.”

Other adults joked that, with the presence of a Kaua’i Police Department office elsewhere in the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, some youngsters are reluctant to come in and use the new recreation room.

Oyama noted that a lot of youngsters get off the school buses in Kalaheo, and prior to the opening of the recreational room, there was no where for them to “just hang out.”

“Hopefully, it will grow into a great program,” she said.

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