Citizen Potawatomi Nation has opened a new gym which will be home to the P.L.A.C.E., the Potawatomi Learning and Cultural Exchange: A Youth Club. The new facility includes a learning lab to educate youth, a regulation sized basketball court with bleachers, a lounge and recreation area, and offices for up to five staff members.

The new facility will allow the Tribal Youth Program to expand programs offered to include summer camps, after school programs and services to older youth.

“This facility offers the potential to continue caring for youth who may be left unattended after school each day,” said BJ Trousdale, project coordinator, Tribal Youth Program. “Statistics show the juvenile delinquency and crime rates rise between the hours of 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. across the nation. By providing cultural awareness, fun activities, and ongoing education to youth until parents are available to carry out their family duties, this program will benefit the entire community.”

The P.L.A.C.E is specifically designed for youth from the ages of 12-17 years old, or seniors in high school. The FireLodge Youth Council is comprised of local middle school and high school students worked with the Tribal Youth Advisory Board to create the design, plans and goals of the new program.

During the school year, the P.L.A.C.E. program will provide transportation from local schools to the facility Monday through Friday and will also be open at various times during school breaks and holidays. While there, all youth will be required to participate in G.E.T. (Gym, Education, and Training) Smart- a tutoring and homework completion time. Other educational courses such as career and college readiness, financial literacy, a small library to encourage reading, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) opportunities will be available.

Any youth between the ages of twelve and seventeen as well as seniors enrolled in high school are eligible to attend. The quarterly membership fee is $25.00 per person ($50.00 in the summer quarter). Please contact Michael Logan at 405-214-5110 or to request an application or with any questions.

The Indian Child Welfare program received the Tribal Youth Grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in 2009 to run the program. In the first five years of the grant, the team established a respected name in the community by collaborating with school districts and several tribal offices to provide life skills, education, after school tutoring programs, annual summer camps, and opportunities for parent education.