The Central Virginia Youth Center is having a “vision launch” event Saturday, Feb. 18 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The center is a Christian-based non-profit for local teenagers and is sponsored by the Children’s Home of Virginia Baptist. The group was founded by Ashley Cox (who is also the center’s executive director) and a Youth Leadership Council comprised of juniors and seniors from L.C. Bird High School.
Cox is a teacher at Bird, and she got the idea for a youth center last August. With the help of the council, they presented their idea to the board of the Children’s Home of Virginia Baptist.
“[Last November] we had a meeting with the Children’s Home of Virginia Baptist; I took some students with me and they presented to the board,” Cox said.
“They gave their testimony and the board agreed to, and wanted to, sponsor us because they heard their stories and understood that we do need a youth center.”
The youth center is housed at the Children’s Home of Virginia Baptist, and it will officially open in June. Cox said they hope to also target at-risk youth and they have been biweekly events that attracts youth from different churches and cities.
“We plan on opening in June with a summer program … [but so far] we’ve been having biweekly events, and this vision launch event is our biggest one.” Cox said. “We’ve been doing things like fundraising, we did events for the volunteers, [and] we’ve done our biweekly events, [which] are our worship nights.”
Cox said their worship nights are a judgment-free zone where the youth can fully express themselves and have a common space to meet. She said she wants the center to be a place where the youth will know they are loved and supported.
“I hope the young people that we serve recognize their worth, I hope they recognize their capabilities, and I hope that they know that they are loved and supported, and I hope they feel uplifted,” Cox said. “If there’s any area in their life where they’re not supported, I want to fill those gaps. I also hope it’s a place of exploration because we want to offer different services; whatever they need I hope that we can provide it, and if not, we can provide it … in the near future and we can get it for them.”
Youth expression will be on full display at the launch event, as there will be student poetry, an art gallery, and live music from the student band (which plays at their worship night). Kelvin Giles, head football coach at Meadowbrook High School, and poet Rob Edwards will be guest speakers, and Cox and the council will also speak and explain their mission to the community.
The center is still working on finalizing their programs but Cox said they hope to offer yoga, art, music, theater, tutoring, sports, and poetry. Dynamic Works Program Support (founded by Kelvin Giles) is interested in offering tutoring, mentoring, sports and coaching; and Robert Edwards wants to offer a poetry program.
Even though the youth center was Cox’s brain child, she praised the Youth Leadership Council for their hard work and dedication.
“The idea was mine over the summer but … I initially [told my students] I want to have something called the Youth Leadership Council, so I took applications from the students and they applied to be on [the council] and those are the students that have been helping me,” Cox said. “It’s been incredible, they’ve been like my backbone because I can’t do everything alone [and] it’s been a huge, huge process. I’m like the orchestrator, but it’s [the] young people who have come together to create this, and it’s beautiful.”
The vision launch event will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday where they meet, at the Children’s Home of Virginia Baptists, located at 6900 Hickory Road South.
For more information visit ww.CentralVAYouth.org.