Plans to close the Red Barn Youth Center for the summer have been suspended since Children’s Home Society of Washington has stepped into the breach to keep youth summer programs there open and operational.

Word traveled quickly in June as the KP community learned that leadership of the Red Barn Youth Center decided to close their doors to regular operations over the summer with the intention of reopening in the fall, following the Peninsula School District schedule.

Gina Cabbidu, in her first year as program manager for Children’s Home Society of Washington-KP Family Resource Center in Vaughn, said she was surprised by the news and wondered what else was available and accessible for middle and high school age youth during summers on the KP.

A few inquiries delivered the hard truth: not much.

With little time to spare, CHSW stepped up to create a summer youth program to host both drop-in and scheduled activities at the Red Barn in a program they’re calling “Key Kidz at the Red Barn.”

“We saw the need and jumped into action right away to pull the funding and resources together,” Cabbidu said. “By talking to community partners to create a community-led program, accessible and fun for our youth, we found the path forward together.”

“Our board came together pretty quickly to approve the plan,” Peter Hedin, president of the Red Barn board of directors said. The plan makes CHSW a summer tenant in July and August to deliver the youth programming that RBYC is not staffed to provide over the summer.

This is not the first summer RBYC struggled to remain open. It announced a summer closure in 2018 due to lack of operational funds, but remained open on a limited basis.

“Our experience was that our summer operation wasn’t well attended,” Hedin said. “We will be doing several RBYC events over the summer, just not on a daily basis.” 

Beginning July 1 through Aug. 23, the doors of the Red Barn will be open to youth Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

In partnership with KP School Bus Connects, Key Kidz at the Red Barn will have transportation available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to and from the Red Barn for youth coming for the CHSW summer activities.

“We’re happy to do whatever we can to support youth programming,” said Marcia Harris, who coordinates the KP Bus Connects program under the fiscal umbrella of the KP Community Council. “I’m so pleased Gina and I could work together to make this happen quickly. Transportation makes a remarkable difference for youth on the KP.”

Kids coming to the Red Barn can enjoy board games, billiards, foosball, basketball, water games, volleyball, art, and more throughout the day, including snacks. But that’s only the beginning. 

“We’re crafting a schedule of fun and dynamic activities with local community members and organizations to be offered on-site,” Cabbidu said. Community partners such as Key Peninsula Fire Department, Harbor WildWatch, and others will offer musical interactions, nature lessons, science experiments, health and wellness exercises, and more, she said.

“It’s been a huge effort and we are still building the program minute by minute,” Cabbidu said. “The youth out here deserve enrichment opportunities, the community can show off their passions and skills, and this incredible space can rise to the potential it was built for.”

Former RBYC Executive Director Clint Rosson moved on from his post in mid-June but said he is proud of the accomplishments the organization achieved during his four years at the helm. “We finished the basketball court and finally opened the multipurpose room in time to celebrate Christmas 2018,” he said.

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