Woodmen sets fall schedule for Westside Community Center; includes Friday ‘Family and Friends’ nights

       The word “fun” pops up a lot when Dick Siever talks about what will be happening this fall at the Westside Community Center.

Over the summer, new Westside Community Center operator Woodmen Valley Chapel used split rail fence to create parking spaces behind the three-building complex. The metal fence at far right, between the parking area and an outdoor basketball court, is reused material. It had been part of a backstop for a playing field when the facility was Buena Vista Elementary School. The school was closed by District 11 in 2009, after which the district negotiated an agreement with the city to take it over and make it a center.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The location is the former Buena Vista school complex, 1628 W. Bijou St. Owned by the city since 2009, it is now leased to the Woodmen Valley Chapel. This is Woodmen's first full seasonal schedule since taking over the operation in April.
       Along with several classes and programs under the heading of “New Family and Youth Programs,” the fall schedule features three free neighborhood-oriented offerings. From Sept. 17 to Nov. 19, every Friday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. will be a “Family and Friends” night in the center's Hughes Gymnas-ium. The focus will change each time from bingo to cards to movies or “a variety of fun games,” according to information in a new center flyer that lists the fall activities.
       Also new and free will be “Recreational Bike and Tire Repair” the second Saturday of every month, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, starting Sept. 11. “A skilled bike repair team… will do safety checks and help you make adjustments for a safer and more comfortable ride,” the flyer states. Also included will be possible bicycle swaps. “Bikes are frequently available, depending on size requirements,” Siever said.
       An event scheduled this fall will be a Family Fall Festival, Sunday, Oct. 31 from 4 to 8 p.m. Games, food, prizes and candy will be available to kids as an alternative to Halloween trick-or-treating, Siever said.
       The following bulleted items are capsules on each of the classes/activities/programs that will start in mid-September under the “New Family and Youth Programs” heading. For specific dates, times and fees, call the center at 385-7920 x1. People may also receive a flyer with such details in the mail - it's about to be sent to close to 2,000 households (1,600 from a carry-over center mailing list and all those within ¾ of a mile of it), Siever said.
  • Table Tennnis and Practice Sessions - The Pikes Peak Table Tennis Club, including Paralympics instructors, will set out six tables. The classes will involve an hour of instruction, followed by a period of play. “We just think it's a fun activity that's good for all ages,” Siever said. “Families can come down and learn to play together.”

    Last April 17, volunteer cadets from the Air Force Academy spent several hours helping Woodmen Valley move into the Westside Community Center. They also did various cleanup chores, such as raking near the outdoor basketball court off 17th Street (above). The westernmost center building (the gym) is at far right. This photo can be contrasted with the more recent one above.
    Westside Pioneer photo
  • Self Defense Techniques (ages 7 and over): According to Siever, there had been some public requests for such a class. “It's something that parents are kind of interested in having their kids learn, and some women want to learn. So we found somebody certified [Defensive Survival Techniques (DST)].” The flyer states that “DST offers a mixed martial arts consisting of Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do.”
  • Karate - This was also a request. The teacher will be Allen Kishbaugh, who has taught at other locations in Colorado Springs, Siever said. The financial plan with the class is to let people pay each time they come, “which we hope will help families' budgets,” Siever said.
  • Jump Rope Workshops: This will be taught by One Jump Ahead, an internationally competitive jump rope team sponsored by Woodmen Valley Chapel. “It will really be fun,” Siever said. “They have a great time. It's an activity we're excited about. It's a great way to stay in shape, and it doesn't take a lot of fancy equipment. All you need is a rope.” Note: Dates and times were still undetermined at press time.
  • Mentoring programs - This is a volunteer Woodmen Valley Chapel effort to help children's reading skills. “We will make this available to meet people's needs,” Siever said. “We have some mentors available after school and some on Saturday mornings. We'll see what works for their schedules.” The goal is to help children who are having reading problems up to third grade. Up to that level, “children are learning to read,” Siever said. “After that, they are reading to learn.”
  • Hip-hop dance classes - Also by request. This “lively, enthusiastic, creative” class will be taught by a young dancer from Motion West Dance, with her mother there for support, Siever said.
  • Healthy Low Cost Family Cooking - This class will be taught in a new kitchen that's been created in a middle building classroom. It's the same place where a Healthy Cooking for Seniors class will be offered also.
  • Mosaic Creations - Sherry Bennett, who has taught similar skills at the center in the past, will provide instruction on “how to transform reusable items into unique art for your home and garden using standard materials and mosaic techniques,” the flyer states. Open to all age groups with no experience necessary.
  • Two digital photography classes, one for point-and-shoot cameras, including cell phones; the other for single-lens reflexes. The teacher is an experienced wildife photographer, Siever said.
           After-school programs, which started when school did Aug. 18, serve local elementary and middle school students. The West Center bus picks the kids up from Midland, Buena Vista and West elementaries.
           Continuing classes/programs/offerings for adults and seniors this fall will include bridge, crafts, exercise for seniors, the Golden Circle Nutrition Program (daily from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), line dancing, the Lively Exchange book discussion group, ping-pong (Mondays and Fridays, 1 to 3 p.m.), toenail trimming, resistance training and beginning yoga.

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