Area youth will soon have a new place to play and learn together after the school day ends.

Area youth will soon have a new place to play and learn together after the school day ends.
The North Missouri Center for Youth and Families is set to open this spring. Executive Director Dan Savage said the creation of the youth center has been years in the making.
“We’ve had our 501c3 for almost two years now,” Savage said. “That whole process of organizing our board and getting all that groundwork done, that’s been about three years. My dad and I started a lot of the construction ourselves about two years ago. The real heavy construction started when we received those tax credits. We got the professional guys in here, and that’s been going on since about October.”
Savage, who has a history in youth center management with the Boys and Girls club in Sedalia, Mo., said the after-school program he had been facilitating in Chillicothe was becoming too large for its current location. A new location had to be found, or constructed, in order for growth to continue.
“I was working at House of Prayer and had started a Wednesday after-school program there,” Savage explained. “We had about five or six kids show up the first day. Within a month or two of the program, we had about 20 kids coming.”
With interest in his after-school program growing weekly, Savage started making plans to construct a new youth center inside the former Savage Grocery building, which had been vacant since 2005. With the newly-renovated building, Savage hopes to expand the after-school program from Wednesday afternoons to a full Monday-through-Friday schedule from 2:30 until 6 p.m. He said the program will focus on five different areas of hands-on learning.
“Number one is homework help and that tutoring aspect,” Savage said. “Number two is character and leadership education. Three is career exploration and four is fine arts programming. The last is health and fitness. There’s also a big push for after-school programs to have what are called STEM activities; that’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It will be a very hands-on environment that serves as an extension of the school day.”
Operations will begin with two full-time employees when the youth center opens this spring. Those positions include Savage’s title as executive director, as well as a full-time administrative assistant. Savage said he is currently searching for area residents to assume a variety of part-time positions.
“The main one is the learning center coordinator,” Savage said. “That person will be responsible for overseeing the tutoring aspect of the program. It’s going to be about a noon to 6 p.m. job. We’d love to have some retired teachers that might be interested in doing something like that. The other paid positions will be about three youth assistants. They will be right there with the child working through the activities.”
Savage said he hopes to host an open house and ribbon cutting for the North Missouri Center for Families and Youth in mid-March. For more information on the youth center, call Savage at 660-247-1703.