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McTureous Offers Kids an Original Valentine's Party

By: Jena Maddalino

Date Posted: 2000-02-20

Valentine’s Day came early, and in adult style, to several children on the night of Friday, February 11th. Dinner and dancing marked the occasion at the McTureous Youth Center, where a first annual formal Valentine's gathering for children ages 6 to 12 - complete with food, music and festive atmosphere - was held. Even though Valentine's day is traditionally a day for love and romance, it can also be an important day for children, as the theme of love can extend to more than just a "sweetheart.” It can also be a celebration of love for your family.

Parents were invited too, and moms and dads could be seen dancing the night away to the music of a younger generation.

According to Center Director, Gloria Russell, the formal occasion served to give the children a realistic idea of what a formal dinner is all about. "The children can experience a formal dinner with their parents and see what it is that their parents get dressed up for, " Russell said at the event.

The children dressed up in their finest for the event. It gave them a chance to feel a little bit like grown-ups, as they spent quality time with their adult parents who would like them to grow up and become outstanding adults and role models. The night of music and dancing, completed by contests and prizes, was all theirs to enjoy. As the dance came to an end, the huge smiles on the children’s faces was an evidence of their obvious merriment - a fact which proved that Valentine's day is not just for Adults.

Sandra Fagin and her son, Nicholas, attended the event. Even though Nicholas is only 9 years old, he was obviously excited about the chance to dress up and go out to a formal party. "I have been in Okinawa for 3 months, and it is already obvious that youth centers here offer more programs for children than they do in the States," said Fagin.

Jazmin Clifton, dressed in a black velvet dress, agreed that the event was worth attending. "This is a lot of fun," Clifton said, after winning a prize for best child/parent dance.

Formal dinners are not the only kind of events that the Youth Center at McTureous hosts. Other events include cooking projects, arts and crafts and several outdoor activities. The center also holds dances once a month on the second Friday of every month as well as special events for holidays, such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

According to Russell, the center sees close to 100 children a day - children that attend classes as well as "power hours" for homework. The Youth Center also serves as a haven for children to be themselves. It also has a snack bar with prices just right for youngsters.

The center's monthly calendar is filled with activities, ranging from Ultimate Frisbee to sponge painting, and seems to offer something for every young person on the base or on the island as a whole. The center is open daily to children ages 6-12, but is closed Sundays and holidays. For more information about activities, events and fees, call 622-9049.

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