West Broadway Youth Outreach program welcomes inner city youth to new location

West Broadway Youth Outreach program officially opened the doors at its new Portage Ave location on Tuesday night.

Outreach program moves from 28 by 18 foot spot to over 5,000 square feet of newly renovated space

Dozens of people came out for the grand opening of the new West Broadway Youth Outreach program facility on Tuesday night. (Brett Purdy)

It took nine months, but the West Broadway Youth Outreach program (WBYO) officially opened the doors at its new Portage Avenue location on Tuesday night.

The program moved from a cramped location that was 28 by 18 feet, to a newly renovated 5,000 square foot space for inner city kids.  Ken Opaleke, the executive director of WBYO said the expanded digs are a massive improvement from its previous home.
Youth explore the new facilities at the West Broadway Youth Outreach program at 646 Portage Avenue. (CBC)

"A space, a site that [the kids] are deserving of. A space where they aren't bumping elbows every time they turn," said Opaleke.

WBYO runs approximately 30 programs a week, aiming to provide a fun and safe after school environment for kids to learn and grow.  The program teaches inner city youth life skills, positive behavior while supporting kids in the neighbourhood to reach their potential. Over 800 kids utilize their programming every year.

Opaleke, pointing out the wide open first floor, can't hide how excited he is about the improved space which includes a library.
The new 5,000 square foot facility has a colourfully painted library and play space in the basement. (Brett Purdy)

"This is the homework room! We have a kitchen, we have a music room. We have two bathrooms, wheelchair access, we have what we need for now," said Opaleke.

The WBYO will continue to use gym space at Gordon Bell High School and Mulvey School, but Opaleke said the new facility at 646 Portage Avenue will give the program an opportunity to expand the programming they currently offer to include "every life skill possible".