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Step into Wallaceburg District High School’s new student hub after school hours and you might find kids learning new card games, watching a movie, or playing basketball outdoors.
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The school space opened to students about three months ago, principal Melissa Mallette said. She said it gives them a place to go after school and provides them with support and services closer to home.
“We’re trying to provide services to children in the Wallaceburg area instead of forcing them to travel” to other parts of Chatham-Kent or Lambton County, she said. “It’s a safe place for children to come.”
The hub includes a TV, office spaces with charging ports, music equipment, full kitchen, laundry facilities, free pantry, and exits to the former parking lot turned basketball court.
It also has a quiet study room and three office spaces, which have been used by community groups like Access Open Minds, the YMCA and Linck, formerly Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.
“The idea is that nonprofits can bring their services to the hub after hours so that families in Wallaceburg have opportunities, so they’re not inconvenienced by gas prices or that they don’t have transportation,” Mallette said.
“It brings what our community needs to serve our children and our families.”
The pantry includes canned goods, personal items, feminine hygiene products and donated clothing.
“It costs the kids nothing, so if they’re in need, they know it’s here,” assistant manager Todd Wood said.
Wood said students can also use the washing machine and dryer if they don’t have laundry equipment at home. A staff member will help a student with the machines if needed, he said.
Some students also hang out at the space after school because there is a later bus from Wallaceburg to Walpole Island First Nation four days a week.
Wood said the space was built “from scratch.” The floor has been replaced with a new concrete floor and all amenities have been integrated.
It was previously a communications technology area and a music room.
“The outer wall was what it was before, but other than that everything inside is brand new,” the assistant manager said.
The after-school program at the hub runs until 4 p.m.