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GCI to build new youth sports and community exercise are

Kansas City metro area youths will soon have a new place where they can play and stay active in a safe, welcoming environment, thanks to the efforts of the Guadalupe Centers.

CEO Cris Medina recently announced to Hispanic News an addition to the Guadalupe Centers Middle School that will “provide a space for recreational activities for kids at our school and residents of the West Side.” That space will include a basketball court, walking track, and soccer field, as well as a dedicated location for the centers’ youth recreation program. The estimated cost of the project is $500,000, and that money will mostly come from private as well as corporate donors, including Boulevard Brewing Co.

Currently, the recreation program is housed at the Sacred Heart Youth Center and Gym on 26th Street in Kansas City, Mo.; Guadalupe Centers operates that facility but doesn’t own it. After the centers’ lease there expires later this year, the centers will move its youth recreation program to 2641 Belleview Ave. in Kansas City, Mo., where the centers’ Salud (Health) Center was housed. The building will be renovated before the program moves in and houses its administrative offices there, according to Medina, who said the centers’ old high school at 17th and Holly streets will be sold, and the money from the sale will be used to fund the program’s relocation.

“If you go down the street, you see kids hanging outside of the gym at Sacred Heart,” Medina noted. “At the new location, we will have access to the indoor gymnasium (at the middle school, which becomes the community center in the evening).”

Medina said both of these developments are positive ones for the community, in large part because developers from outside the area won’t be hired to work on the projects.

“We wanted this to continue to serve the community and not bring in developers who might use it for something else,” Medina said. “We are adamant that we do programs that will enhance opportunities for residents.”

Ricky Olivares, youth development manager for Guadalupe Centers, said he is particularly excited to see more opportunities to see youths get physically active and stay that way.

“As a community and as a nation, we are seeing obesity levels rise because (children) are not involved or they are more involved in their Xbox games, their phones,” Olivares said. “They’re not being mobile. You have sports teams like Sporting KC, the Chiefs, the Royals, who say, ‘Play 90 minutes a day.’ Here, we want them to be part of a team … That way, they’re getting that activity.”

Olivares added that the former Salud Center will be completely gutted and renovated, and that there will be no costs to the families and kids who use the new recreation complex’s services.

“I remember coming to this building and being a part of a club where the kids just came out and hung around,” Olivares recalled. “We came, we played bumper pool, and out of all these guys, teams were formed so we could play soccer. We had baseball and basketball teams. So, that’s kind of what I’m envisioning.”

Between the addition of the rec complex to the middle school and the new location for the youth program’s offices, Medina said he ultimately wants both places to be locations where kids can come, meet one another, and have fun safely. He added that all students are welcome to use the facilities – even those who reside outside of the district.

“All you have to do is go to our school, and you’ll see all of those zip codes,” Medina said. “The school has really helped all of the residents of those communities come together.”

For more information call Ricky Olivares at 816-531-6911.