VICTORY CHRISTIAN CENTER RIOT seeks to be teen hangout

The youth center will offer teens a place to have fun and study.
COITSVILLE -- Free Easter weekend concerts will kick off the grand opening of The RIOT, a $1.5 million community and youth center funded by the Victory Christian Center congregation.
The rock band Broken Yoke will highlight the weekend's performances, including three other bands, energized dancing and the center's drama and rap teams. Broken Yoke also will lead a worship service at 11 a.m. Sunday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the free concerts Friday through Sunday.
Chris Gilkey, the director of student ministries, said organizers hope to see 600 to 800 students each night and are targeting students ages 12-25.
Safety is a top priority for the event's organizers, who have hired armed police officers to monitor the facility during the concerts. Gilkey's staff of four paid workers and 30 volunteers also will oversee the activities.
"We don't want our name to become our reputation," he said.
After Easter weekend, the center plans to open the facility to the community and use it for daily events, such as after school programs, tutoring, community programs and religious youth services. At night, the facility will house meetings for the center's various study and production groups.
On weekends, the center will hold large meetings of area youth groups, while Tuesday and Sunday evenings will focus more toward young adults. Gilkey said the center's goal is not to create a competition but to bring together youth from around the region.
A small fee will eventually be needed to pay a staff to maintain the facility's safety and availability, Gilkey said. To fund this staff, memberships to the building or to individual areas will be required. Any concerts held in the facility also would require a charge.
Construction of the new center, located one block east from the intersection of state Route 616 and U.S. Route 422 at 3899 McCartney Road, began in April 2004. Additions to the interior design continue to be made.
Facility's amenities
The features of the facility cover a range of interests. With a permanent stage, club lighting and a state-of-the-art sound system, the main multipurpose room doubles as a gymnasium and concert venue. The recreation center features pool, table tennis and air hockey tables, eight video game stations and a big screen TV.
For more academic students, the building has an Internet lab of six computers with basic programming and print capabilities. Students with laptops can visit the Internet cafe, which serves up free wireless connections in addition to a variety of inexpensive, concession-style snacks.
The center plans to update several spaces to accommodate a broader range of hobbies. A storage area will become a fitness center with cardio machines and free weights, while the seasonal change to warmer weather will allow for the creation of an outdoor skate park and two sand volleyball courts.
Gilkey said his goal is to attract area youth to a center where they can be safe and productive while also having fun. "We're doing everything under the sun for teenagers," he said.