SPOONER, WI - The Washburn County Health and Human Services’ Prevention Programming Unit is hard at work reimagining their new space, developing a program schedule and preparing for an open house on October 9th from 1PM - 7PM. A grand opening will be held this winter, date TBD.
The Spooner Senior Center recently changed locations and rebranded to the Washburn County Wellness Center 50+. The move left 402 Oak Street open and opportunity rang. Over the last five years the Prevention Program Unit has expanded services for youth in Washburn County Communities. These programs range from the Youth Wellness Screen, a voluntary evidence based questionnaire that is designed to identify youth who might need mental health resources, to their growing summer youth leadership program(s). The Prevention Programming Unit and their community partners saw 402 Oak Street as a great place for these and many other youth programs to flourish in.
If the Prevention Programming Unit was going to pursue a youth center it had to be sustainable. Accessing a publicly owned building was the first step to sustainability and the second was funding. The Washburn County Health and Human Services Prevention Programming Unit offers its services at no cost to the community and at no expense to the taxpayer. This is made possible through a history of successfully accessing state, private and federal grants. The Prevention Program Unit is humbled to announce that this trend will continue at the new WashCo Youth Center.
The Prevention Program Unit applied for an extremely competitive SAMHSA grant entitled the Strategic Prevention Framework-Partnerships for Success or in short SPF-PFS. Washburn County Health and Human services was 1 of 3 rural communities awarded the grant and 1 of 44 total awards nationwide. In addition to funding operations and youth center staffing, the grant will increase school based mental health resources at Spooner Area School District. The SAMHSA grant awards Washburn County Health and Human Services $375,000 annually. The grant period is for up to 5 years with a possible 5 year renewal in fiscal year 2028.
The WashCo Youth Center seeks to address an age-old local concern: What is there for young people to do? Let’s balance expectations, the building at 402 Oak Street is about 2000 sq. ft. with a large open room, two small office spaces and a kitchen. It is not a YMCA; you won’t find a pool or indoor basketball court. It’s not a big city youth center. However, the WashCo Youth Center is ours and the first of its kind in Washburn County. It will offer a number of prosocial activities, established programs implemented by vetted professionals, a safe space for young people to gather, recreational opportunities, educational opportunities and regular special events. The space will also be available to youth serving organizations for reservation and third party training opportunities at no expense.The youth center is for all youth grades 6th through 12th.
The center will be open on a limited basis to allow time for capacity building and staffing expansion. The Prevention Programming Unit encourages you to visit healthywashco.org to learn more about prevention programs and the youth center.