Despite heavy snow and wind chills in the negative 20-degree range, local students dropped in Monday, Jan. 27 to get the first look at the new Crosswalk Teen Center in Charlotte. The event, Crash the Crosswalk, was as much about getting a feel for local needs as it was about introducing the new teen center to the community.

The goal was to gain input from local students as to the kinds of educational opportunities in which they would have an interest, said Crosswalk Teen Center founder, Rick Todd.

“I have piles of ideas, but I’m not their age anymore,” Todd said.

He estimates 25 or more students “crashed” the Crosswalk, a turnout he was pleased with given the fact that schools in most of Eaton County were closed due to the weather. He said he and the Crosswalk Teen Center board of directors will take the data collected Monday to design programming and establish a calendar before the center’s Feb. 11 grand opening.

“We’ll identify priorities first,” Todd said. “Then we can connect with community volunteers to see how and where they can help.”

Board of directors chair, Patti Abent said Crosswalk Teen Center is also working to establish a teen board, which will have representation on the board of directors.

“We want this to be about the teens and for the teens,” Abent said. “They need to have a voice.”

Todd has been working on the concept for Crosswalk Teen Center for the past two years. He secured the location, at the southwest corner of Cochran and Lawrence avenues in August of 2013 and has been working with close to 100 volunteers since to get the building ready to open in February.

“We wanted to get things moving a little earlier, but when you are dealing with donations of time and funds, sometimes it takes a little longer,” Abent said.

The space includes six separate areas where instruction can take place. Todd said the areas of focus include educational opportunities, life skills, community connections and expressive arts.

“I wanted to create an after school program that would expand educational opportunities,” Todd said. “I remember when I was in school, there were classes that I wanted to take that just wouldn’t fit into my schedule. This can be a place where kids can expand on what they are getting at school, a safe place in the community that they can connect with other people in the community who are willing to share their talents.”

Students can currently visit Crosswalk Teen Center between 3 and 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday or 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday to check it out or share ideas as to programming ideas they would like to see. Todd said a schedule will be posted online at before the Feb. 11 grand opening. Potential volunteers should inquire with Todd at (248) 987-8336.