It’s probably the closest you’ll get to a mallrat scene in Whitehorse — kids roaming the concourse at the Canada Games Centre, eating a sandwich from Subway, having a coffee or just hanging out.
“There are a lot of youth here wandering around with nothing to do… sometimes they just get dropped off, that’s it,” said Mia Lee, who works as the city’s leisure program co-ordinator.
“We want the youth here, we want this place to be full — but we want them doing something.”
With that in mind, the city has set up a youth-focused drop-in program at the Games Centre, which has been running for the past month.
“We had a room, and a little money in the budget, so let’s do it,” said Lee on Monday, sitting in a sparsely furnished, but brightly coloured room next to the Subway stand.
The kids chose the programs’ name — The Chillax’n Lounge.
Lee said the program is meant to be open, youth-led, and not structured — kids can come and go as they please.
Hopefully, the walls will fill up with artwork, and if the users want a new game or piece of furniture for the space, they’ll be encouraged to come up with some fundraising ideas to make it happen.
This past weekend saw the biggest turnout yet for the new program, with more than 30 kids taking advantage of the free activities, which include arts and crafts, swimming, games in the flexi-hall, and the ever-popular interactive video games Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero.
Two part-time leaders have been hired to work for the three-month pilot program, which runs Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 to 10 p.m.
Those hours may change depending on demand.
Lee has spent the last few weeks spreading the word at schools and through the media, and it’s starting to sink in.
There are kids already coming up to the Games Centre just to play at the lounge.
The official grand opening of the Chillax’n Lounge is this Saturday at 7 p.m., and many special activities are planned.
A dodgeball tournament, bellyflop and cannonball contest in the pool, airbrush tattoos, making the banner to hang above the door and food and drinks for all.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Lee. “I’m really hoping a lot of kids show up.”