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Rascals Teen Center Closing
After 27 years of giving middle-schoolers something to do on the weekends, Rascals Teen Center is closing its doors for good.
Amy McAtee, executive director of Rascal's, said the facility closed for teen events the last Friday in July. One private rental is still scheduled for September and from now until then, McAtee said she is working to dissolve the non-profit organization.
"It's sad and I hate it," McAtee said of the closing.
Located in downtown Kingsport, Rascals opened in February 1987 as a teen recreation center where youth from the region could come to socialize in a drug and alcohol-free environment. The center prided itself on helping teens make the transition from youngster to adult and to develop positive attitudes about themselves and the community.
Early in its history, Rascal's would host middle school students on Fridays and high school students on Saturdays, but eventually changed to just focus on middle schoolers (5th through 8th grade). Rascal's would also rent the facility for private parties and functions, such as church groups and high school reunions.
Rascal's hosted one of the largest dance floors in the area and housed a movie theater, concession area and a room with pool tables and video games.
At one time, Rascal's would see more than 10,000 teens come through its doors every year. But in recent years, attendance kept slipping to the point where the teen center was just not economically viable.
"We just got to where we couldn't really continue. Things had to change," McAtee said. "We tried to work through the change, tried to do some things, but we got to where we couldn't continue on."
A few years ago Rascal's held a meeting and invited community leaders to attend, letting them know the organization was looking at the possibility of closing. The response was not huge.
"I think we have our supporters, but I think people didn't realize what was going on here," McAtee said.
Rascal's is owned by the non-profit Teen Center Coalition and was supported primarily through admissions and rental fees, but also accepted donations, though no significant donations came through and the organization never had a major fundraiser.
"I think it's an accumulation of many things -- many sports are year-round, kids are so involved in the summer, with vacation and sports," McAtee said. "There's such a big rise in this area of what kids are involved with year round."
Recently, the facility tried to switch around which teens could come on which days, having just 5th graders on Fridays and middle schoolers on Saturdays.
"No matter how much we advertised on the radio, the newspaper and Facebook, it's like we still couldn't contact everybody," McAtee said. "It was very frustrating to hear that particular statement, 'I didn't realize you were still open."
"We were always trying to spread the word. I don't know what happened."
Harvest Community Church -- located beside Rascal's -- rented the facility a little over a year ago when it was undergoing a renovation, having services there on Sundays. McAtee said Rascal's is under contract with the church to buy the building.
McAtee, who would have been with Rascal's 11 years in October, said the response from the community about the closing has been primarily from people in their late 30s and early 40s.
"It's been people my age who used to come here in middle school, saying 'I can't believe they're closing," she said. "I've also heard, what are the kids going to do now? It's a very valid question and it's something Kingsport needs to work on."
Read more: Rascals Teen Center closing | Kingsport Times-News http://www.timesnews.net/article/9080025/rascals-teen-center-closing#ixzz3F441eGty
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