Paterson unveils new $3 million expansion to Great Falls Youth Center
The city of Paterson this week unveiled the $3 million expansion of the Great Falls Youth Center.
The center, which opened in 2018, is owned and operated by one of Paterson's most prominent nonprofit organizations, the New Jersey Community Development Corporation. It stands just a few hundred yards from John F. Kennedy High School. Officials say the center is essential to keep the youth out of trouble.
"There is not much to not like about the youth center," said sophomore, Lajay Johnson.
Tiffany Shepherd Kearney, director of the center, says it is very important for them to bridge the gap between the youth center, the community and schools. It is a safe place.
"What students can get when they come here, they can relax, be themselves. They don't have to be afraid of anything, be very safe and loved,” she says.
The center allows the students to better themselves.
"You come here, do your work, eat. They offer programming, jobs. It’s great. It teaches you about your mental health and everything," said D' Asia Curry, a high school junior.
Chief program officer David Gelman says there are many ways the youth center is helping students maximize their potential.
"We are really fortunate to offer innovative programming that the students may not get in the classrooms. Culinary, dance, music and motion. All types of different arts programs, a computer lab, basketball court,” Gelman says.
There is even a podcast studio.
With this new expansion, the youth center aims to welcome about 200 high school students per day. There is also transportation provided for them to get home safely.
"I also want to thank Marylin Clark. She is not a Paterson resident, but has passion for Paterson and wants to keep our people safe in our city and all we had to do is ask and she gave $1 million," said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.