Vision on for youth centre
HUNDREDS of teenagers enjoyed a showcase of sport and dance as a new £4.4 million youth centre opened its doors.
Staff at Chesterton Vision Centre ran badminton sessions, a dodgeball tournament and dance performances.
Centre manager Donna Finer said: "This is what it is all about, getting people through the doors.
"We want to engage the young people in activities and give them an opportunity to try new things."
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The Albert Street centre replaced an outdated school building in 2011 after volunteers secured Government cash.
They were awarded nearly £4.4 million in 2009 under the Myplace scheme, administered by the Big Lottery Fund.
University student Liam Grant, aged 20, helped to launch the bid after helping out at the previous centre.
The 20-year-old from Park Court, Chesterton, said: "The last building was nice but it was very basic.
"I got involved with a young persons' panel to put forward ideas of what we would want to spend the funding on and that went back to the council.
"I am ecstatic with how it has turned out because there is always doubt as to whether you will get the money to make things happen.
"It has been great. The whole community has come together to get involved with the centre."
Run over three floors, the Staffordshire County Council centre offers a gym, sports hall, entertainment lounge and dance studio.
Since June 2012 it has been under a trial period to train the 15 members of staff and test facilities. But already it has proved popular with teens.
The manager said: "We had 276 youngsters attend one night and we usually get up to 115.
"We also run an anti-social prevention project, in partnership with the police and Aspire Housing, on Friday nights to get kids off the streets."
A time capsule was buried in the lobby of the building after it was completed, made up of photographs and records of memories from residents.
County council cabinet member Mike Lawrence said: "This is a remarkable building, when you consider the size of the site it is packed with facilities.
"This is a centre that was created by young people – and it was through their determination to get the adults and professionals on board that it has worked."
Mum-of-two Vicky Cuncliffe, aged 31, of Waterhayes, attended the weekend opening. The foster parent said: "The facilities are fantastic. I am a big believer in children having a sense of community.
"There should be more projects like this to bring children together.