By Airman 1st Class Mandy Foster, 18th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 11, 2020
The 18th Mission Support Group, working with the 18th Civil Engineering Group, is preparing to unveil a new Teen Center at Kadena Air Base, Japan.
A wing of the Himawari School Age Care Center, which is across the street from the current Teen Center, will be renovated to create a new space for teens while also addressing the most common complaint on Kadena Air Base: an overcrowded gym.
Over the years, Kadena’s population has grown with new missions, partners and tenant units coming in, but the size of the Risner Fitness Center has remained the same.
“After extensive research and deliberation by the MSG and CEG, it was determined that repurposing the Teen Center as another fitness center for Team Kadena was the best option,” said Ms. Victoria Fragomeli, 18th FSS director. “The building, which was a fitness center in the past, is sized correctly with an existing gymnasium.”
Ms. Eunique Thomas, 18th Mission Support Group key spouse, stated that parents might be concerned at first about a loss of services and programs for their teens.
“After being fully briefed on the plan, I completely agreed that this is a great idea,” said Thomas. “The only change is in location and that is just across the street. All the wonderful services that the 18th FSS provides our teens with will continue but now with a new and improved facility.”
The Teen Center’s youth sports program will continue to use the gymnasium in the new fitness center and will have first priority when scheduling the use of the gymnasium. Fragomeli stated that none of the teen’s programs will be downsized and teens will play an integral role in making the new space theirs.
“I really think that the teens will be excited about how much of a say they get in this whole process,” said Thomas. “We really want to make sure it is a space that feels comfortable.”
The Teen Center director will host a contest allowing the teens to submit artwork that they would like to see in the new space. Once the renovations are finished, they will be able to paint murals on the walls to make the new center their own, explained Fragomeli.
“The current Teen Center is not being used to its full capacity right now,” said Thomas. “Our kids are important and now we have the chance to more efficiently use the space we have on Kadena. It will be better for everyone.”
Fragomeli described how the new Teen Center will be completely separate from the current Himawari SAC Center.
“This new wing for the teens will be separate from the rest of Himawari with their own entrances as well as restrooms,” said Fragomeli. “It will be like two separate buildings under one roof.”
Approximately 70 kids from Himawari SAC will shift to the Shima No Ko SAC since the teens will be using a wing of Himawari. Fragomeli stated that they are making sure the children’s transportation needs are taken care of as part of the plan with children still being transported to and from school.
“The team has done a great job of ensuring this is a win-win for Kadena,” said Col. Nate Vogel, 18th Wing vice commander. “This relocation is going to solve a long-standing quality of life issue on our installation, while also providing the same programs – and a refurbished and redesigned facility – to our teens.”
Two Town Hall meetings are planned on Feb. 19 and 20 at 5 p.m. at the Enlisted Club’s Rocker Lounge for parents who would like to hear more about what’s happening. The Feb. 19 Town Hall will be geared toward families of the school age children program and Feb. 20 will be for the teens and their families. For more information, contact Mr. Dan Aflleje, Youth Programs chief, at 632-0293, or Ms. Cathy Catling, Child and Youth Services flight chief, at 634-2775.