CRYSTAL LAKE — The new Crystal Lake teen center was already abuzz with a group of young regulars Wednesday afternoon, just a couple weeks after it opened on June 2.
The Break, 6292 Northwest Hwy., is still a work in progress with a few rooms still awaiting decor and lighting. But the center is coming along quickly, complete with a colorfully scribbled chalkboard wall and various activities set up for its adolescent members.
Adam Clinard, a junior at Crystal Lake South High School, said The Break has thus far met and exceeded any expectation he had.
"On a scale of one to amazing, I'd rate it a solid 12," he said, laughing.
Clinard's appreciation for the center is deeply rooted having been involved with the project since its beginning a couple years ago.
Since then, the idea to open a coffee shop-like joint for teens has evolved into the almost fully operational center that's open today.
Seeing its doors officially open to local youth is especially exciting for Brenda Napholz, a Crystal Lake mother and President of the center's Board of Directors.
She said word about The Break spreads farther throughout the community every day.
"Every time we come in here, it seems like it's starting to snowball and we're getting more and more kids in every time," Napholz said. "Everybody who comes is really enjoying being here, and that's exciting because there's still a lot we can add, so they can be a part of that."
Once in, teens have an array of choices as far as how to occupy themselves.
They can play pool, table tennis, various video games, or Foosball. Plus, there's a large TV area, a music room, an art room, and a concession stand filled with snack food.
Clinard said he can usually be found dabbling in the music room or on the Wii controller with friends. Either way, the place feels like home.
"It's our place," he said. "I can do anything I want here. It's my place to be who I am and everyone else's place to be who they are, and they all mesh together."
The center's appeal to youth might stem from their hands-on involvement in bringing the idea to fruition, Napholz said.
"Some of the kids that have been working on the project quite honestly have taken on a leadership role," Napholz said, "and I let them direct what we do here."
The ideas will hopefully continue free flowing, she said, to ensure the place gets bigger and better. Napholz said the long-term goals include moving into a larger space and holding music shows put on by kids.
"I told them, 'You guys are the ones who created this and it's going to be so cool when you can come back to see those next generations enjoying what you've put in place,'" Napholz said.
Membership for a year costs $15. For information about donating or volunteering, visit The Break's website.
Location: 6292 Northwest Hwy., Crystal Lake
Membership fee: $15
To donate: Go to http://crystallaketeencenter.webs.com or mail to the center's address.
To volunteer: Email the Break at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (815) 557-6734.