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Local organization takes over old school building to provide learning environment for youth

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - New life is being breathed into the old 21 Century Academy building in Brainerd with a new group moving in.

The Highland Youth Center will now be using the building for summer and after school classes, calling it the highland enrichment learning program.

For the last few years, this building has remained vacant.  But now, it's getting a breath of new life with lots of young faces from the highland youth center.

"Everybody on Brainerd road is pretty excited about this being used for something, especially youth," said Lurone Jennings, II; Executive Director.

It will no longer be the eyesore of the Brainerd community but a gem slowly being polished.

"Any time a building or home is unoccupied, it deteriorates and so when you put life into it, children in it, it's always growing so yes, we're putting life into the building," said Jennings.

The Youth Center will offer kids from 5 to 18 a place to go and learn outside of the classroom, helping them with traits they might otherwise not have the opportunity to learn.

"Whether it's singing, dancing, athletics, cooking, so those things we have a facility to facilitate those things based on the child's desires," said Jennings.

"It's fun because you get to learn how to do things that you wouldn't do at home,ā€ said Alecia Jackson.

ā€œIā€™d be at home sitting in my room watching TV., so it's good they have those type of things to get us out of the house," said Airiana Paris.

Jennings hopes they're soon able to fill every classroom.

"That's a dream. That's a hope and a dream, I think we will as we pursue and develop," said Jennings.

He believes with goals being set for the kids and activities keeping them busy, it will keep many of them off the streets and out of trouble.

"When they set goals and really want to accomplish goals, they don't really have a lot of time to flounder around in their lives," said Jennings.

Summer camp at Highland Youth Center starts on Monday.

For more information on the organization, click here.
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