MIDLAND, Texas — A new learning space opened up Friday in Midland at the Halff Park Facility for the Boys & Girls Club.
After applying for a grant from Panda Express’ philanthropic foundation, Panda Cares, last Spring, the area is now open to serve children in the Permian Basin.
It was a great celebration as many children were able to explore an area that was once a boxing gym now be a center of hope.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Permian Basin has five locations that serve local children, and the Panda Cares Center of Hope at the Halff Park Club is now better equipped to do that.
Work began in September to create two learning rooms, space that will allow up to 125 kids compared to just about 20 before, and they will have plenty of tools to learn with.
“So we have where we’re at now is a learning room with STEM activities, TV, collaboration tables and study areas, and then our next room has a reading room and a movie room," said Andra Jones, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Permian Basin. "So, this was our only club out of our five clubs in the Permian Basin that didn’t have a media room, so this project allowed us to do that.”
Support from United Way of Midland brought in the technology through an innovation grant, and the Chevron Black Workers Association donated 20 STEM games.
With contributions from local contractors being an important part of this process as well, a positive learning environment has been created.
“I know how important it is for kids to feel that their space is clean, and light, and airy and that they can focus," said Jones. "And so, we truly saw, these walls went up, the ceiling came in, the lighting, truly to make a light and bright space in our club as we do renovations here.”
Project Learn through the Boys & Girls Club of America is involved to provide the academic needs, and for the staff of this club, the mindset behind this project was simple.
“So this was something that we were able to say, ‘what is your dream?’", said Jones. "And she said, ‘I want my kids to have what other clubs have. I want them to have a learning space. I want my teens to have a space to learn. I want a media center.’ So really it was her saying, ‘these are my non-negotiables.’ And then we worked within our budget to do that.”
Local Panda Expresses help raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of America that can come back to the community, and an additional $10,000 scholarship was actually donated by Panda Cares following the ribbon cutting ceremony.
That extra money will benefit the children, programming, staff and renovations to the club’s game room.