When Faith Harding looked out her window and saw children hanging out evenings at a playground outside her Lihue apartment, she wished she could provide them with a place to go.
So she created “Mission Yes,” which is celebrating its grand opening March 6-7.
“We’re very excited,” said Harding, the organization’s founder and executive director. “I felt for these kids because I knew they didn’t have any place else to go. We’re trying to create a positive nightlife for youth between the ages of 14 and 24.”
Mission Yes will open its doors from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 6 and from 6 to 10 p.m. on March 7. The center will help children develop their educational, art, music and life skills.
It will be open those weekend hours thereafter.
Taking place at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 4364 Hardy Street in Lihue, Mission Yes will provide teenagers and young adults with a place to dance, sing, play music, do homework or any other activities. Harding and other mentors will also provide classes, such as cooking, art and photography.
Harding and a board of directors are looking to hire older youth to help mentor the younger attendees when the organization is fully established, and is also interested in hearing their ideas for a fun night.
“Peer mentoring works and, when you’re working in the demographic between ages 14 to 24, what I learned was that the older half of that demographic is really the ideal candidates of peer mentoring,” Harding said.
Harding also stated the organization doesn’t intend to replace any youth organizations on the island, but is meant to become part of the fabric of the youth community. Due to how most youth organizations close their doors at 6 p.m, Harding wanted youth to have a place to be after hours.
Others are also looking forward to the grand opening, including the organization’s president, Alison Neustein.
“Ultimately, we want the kids to have a very active role in letting us know what they want,” she said.
In addition to handling the business side and behind-the-scenes matters, Nuestein will host the program’s cooking class.
“It’s a safe place for kids to hang out at night,” Nuestein said. “I just think there should be more available to them.”