New YET Center in Fifth Ward

A historic park in Houston's fifth ward is the home to a new Youth Education Town for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston. YET centers are built with help from the National Football League and is a result of Houston hosting the Super Bowl in 2004. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports today's event recognized the past while looking to the future.

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The ribbon cutting ceremony had the past and present represented. On one side of the gymnasium, senior citizens of the community ... on the other the youth ... in between Harris County Precinct One Commissioner El Franco Lee. Standing between the generations, Lee chocked up while thanking the surrounding schools for their support of the YET Center.

"The principals who bought into the concept and understood how valuable this was to not just reconnect this history of 75 plus years, but to move forward, build a foundation for forward progress for those who can't quite help themselves."

Lee used to be one of the kids spending his summers in Finnigan Park growing up in the Fifth Ward. Like many communities it's gone through both good and bad times and Lee sees another page turning in the history of the neighborhood.

"To seeing it go from a drug controlled, drug infested parks, neglected, community scared to use it, to Street Olympics, to now a Youth Education Town."

Precinct One Senior Manager David Benson:

"There's a legacy here that had kind of begun to fade, now has been reinvigorated, made whole and real again."

That new vision can be seen in Mary Jacobs class.

"That is so good. Want to try again? Let's try one more time. You can do, come on. Sit up straight, get comfortable. Get your hands up there one more time. Uh-uh, no no, you're cheating"

Jacobs is the technology director. About a dozen computers are in this room. Jacobs is teaching the kids safety on the internet. Today's focus is on learning to type.

"Most kids don't know the key board so we're starting with beginning typing. And we're teaching them to be comfortable with the key board. I don't want them to just come in and play on the web. I think they love it. I have a room full every day so I think they love it. And they're enjoying learning how to type, a lot of them want to learn how to type and I explain to them that's a good job, typing."

In addition to the computer room, the YET Center includes a multi-use gym with full-sized basketball court, a visual and performing arts room, and a learning center with library. The National Football League donated one million dollars toward the cost of the facility. The first YET Center was opened in Precinct two last year. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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