Contributed by Jeff Palmer-Public Relations-Lakeside for Children
KALAMAZOO (MICH.)– On April 12, Lakeside for Children officials announced the opening of a new Health & Wellness Center at their Kalamazoo residential treatment facility and school for abused and neglected teenagers. The 12,500 sq.-ft. structure houses three classrooms, a multipurpose room, and a regulation-size high school basketball court that can accommodate other activities.
An opening celebration and dedication ceremony was held in the new Center on the Lakeside campus (3921 Oakland Dr.) with brief remarks by Lakeside officials and community leaders. The celebration was open to the public and included building and campus tours led by students from Lakeside Academy, the charter school on the Lakeside campus authorized by Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency.
“The new Center is designed to deliver more of the quality social, emotional, and educational programming for which Lakeside is widely known and that our students need in order to develop into healthy, happy, productive adults,” said Lakeside for Children CEO Don Nitz. “The high-tech interactive classrooms and court space will provide new options for teaching and learning that will inspire our teachers and students to greater achievements.”
Lakeside’s Health and Wellness Center was designed by Eckert-Wordell architects and was constructed by Miller-Davis Co. following a successful $2.3 million “Sound Mind. Sound Body.” fundraising campaign completed in 2016. A.J. Todd, then Lakeside for Children board president, served as campaign chair. Fellow board members Joseph Brogger II and Amy Upjohn served as honorary co-chairs.
“We are so grateful to our many donors for making this Center a reality,” said Upjohn. “Countless studies demonstrate that fitness and wellness combined with quality classroom experiences and counseling greatly helps at- risk students to recover and progress toward a healthy future.”
The new Center supplants a small gym built in 1963 to serve a population of 50 to 60 elementary school-age children and provides more classroom space for a larger and older student body. Its athletic court features six retractable basketball hoops and a retractable wrestling mat, volleyball and badminton nets, digital scoreboards, and bleacher seating for 250 people.
“This is the greatest place on campus,” said Lakeside Academy student Maurice, age 16. “We finally have a cool spot to show off our skills and learn new ones.”
Lakeside for Children was founded in 1907 as a home for orphan boys. Today, it cares for boys and girls who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect or by adjudication of the juvenile justice system. They come from Kalamazoo, other Michigan counties, and other states to live, receive counseling, and attend year-round school. With the help of approximately 135 teachers, counselors, and other child care experts, Lakeside students learn to identify and manage their own recovery. With its management partner, Sequel Youth Services, Lakeside for Children operates on the same 48-acre campus in Kalamazoo on which it was founded. Visitors are welcome.