Prairies Youth Center opens opportunities for youth

Julian Smith-Custer, Prairies Youth Center volunteer, shows children how to solve a Rubik’s Cube at the Prairies Youth Center on June 22. The PYC offers a wide variety of clubs and activities for youth ages 9 to 18. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/AIRMAN 1ST CLASS JAMES JOHNSON

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Julian Smith-Custer, Prairies Youth Center volunteer, shows children how to solve a Rubik’s Cube at the Prairies Youth Center on June 22. The PYC offers a wide variety of clubs and activities for youth ages 9 to 18. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/AIRMAN 1ST CLASS JAMES JOHNSON

What the Prairies Youth Center does to create opportunities

For many children, after-school activities are abundant and easy to get involved with. Those activities can range from sports, music, education and many more. The Prairies Youth Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base gives military children the opportunities that expand the scope of activities.

Located off base in the Prairies’ housing complex, the PYC offers a wide variety of clubs for youth ages 9 to 18.

Programs are engineered around the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and 4-H curriculum. They are designed to promote three primary outcomes: academic success, good character and citizenship and healthy lifestyles.

The PYC has programs to help kids receive scholarships and further their education with classes on photography, art, design and teach classes on leadership, and finance.

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De’Shae Scott, youth programs assistant (middle), discusses what games and entertainment is available at the Prairies Youth Center on June 22. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/AIRMAN 1ST CLASS JAMES JOHNSON

De’Shae Scott, youth programs assistant (middle), discusses what games and entertainment is available at the Prairies Youth Center on June 22. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/AIRMAN 1ST CLASS JAMES JOHNSON

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De’Shae Scott, youth programs assistant (middle), discusses what games and entertainment is available at the Prairies Youth Center on June 22. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/AIRMAN 1ST CLASS JAMES JOHNSON

“It’s important to give these kids the avenues to succeed in whatever they want to do,” said PYC counselor Alyssa Stauffer. “We see kids grow up here and interact and make lasting friendships, which is what it’s all about.”

Some that spend time with the PYC as young children, find themselves back at the center, but this time, in a volunteer role. This is the case for Julian Smith-Custer who went through the center nine years ago and now works to stay involved.

“I love being around these kids and helping them,” said Smith-Custer. “They look at you and want to be like you so you have to make sure you give them a good guide to follow.”

The center underwent a renovation in 2020 that expanded the centers capabilities and opened up more space for activities. On June 18, the center opened up its new game room that features free arcade games for those who visit.

“It was so important that we opened up space for more activities and events to take place and give these great kids room to spread out,” said Trina Pauley, Air Force Materiel Command school liaison. “We want these kids that come through here to have an enjoyable experience.”

The PYC continues to improve ways to give military children the most opportunities as possible and creates a space children can go to interact with other youth in similar situations.

For more information about the PYC and the activities and clubs they offer, please contact them at 937-904-4700 or visit them at 641 Chapel Lane, Bldg. 234 Riverside.

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Children at the Prairies Youth Center enjoy an arts and crafts activity at the Prairies Youth Center on June 22. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/AIRMAN 1ST CLASS JAMES JOHNSON

Children at the Prairies Youth Center enjoy an arts and crafts activity at the Prairies Youth Center on June 22. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/AIRMAN 1ST CLASS JAMES JOHNSON

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Children at the Prairies Youth Center enjoy an arts and crafts activity at the Prairies Youth Center on June 22. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/AIRMAN 1ST CLASS JAMES JOHNSON

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