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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Youth House in Vega Baja combines skill-building with entertainment in new video game center


In the new Video Game Center at Youth House in Vega Baja, young people can develop technological and socialization skills in a safe environment.


By THE STAR STAFF


One thing is certain, video games are extremely popular nowadays, to the extent that something that was once viewed by many as a children’s toy now has an average demographic of 35 years of age, according to playtoday.com. That’s how popular gaming has become in the 2020s.


While playing video games all the time is not ideal or positive for anyone older or younger, you’d be hard pressed to find a parent who would rather have their kids finding enjoyment in drugs or alcohol over playing video games at home


Back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when the concept of Youth Houses in Puerto Rico was slowly developing, the municipality of Gurabo had its own Youth House, which had video games, board games, ping-pong tables and one floor filled with computers for work, homework or personal use.


That concept seems to be gaining strength in Vega Baja. Its Youth House, alongside the mayor of the municipality, Marcos Cruz Molina, and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym), recently inaugurated a new service: The Video Game Center. The intention is to bring youth from Vega Baja into a space where they can enjoy video games through computers.


Now, they aren’t just wasting time and playing Super Mario or Sonic games all day; there is a productive spin to the initiative. The point is to have young people develop technological and socialization skills in a safe way.


“Today we present young people with a healthy and innovative space where they can participate at the end of their school day,” Cruz Molina said.


To enable the space, high-performance computers such as five “iMac All-in-One” and five “Lenovo Newest Legion” were acquired to encourage both fun and learning at Youth House.


In addition to all this, the Youth House in Vega Baja had its 5th anniversary. In those five years it has assisted the youth of Vega Baja with the College Boards and the learner’s permit exam (both virtual and in-person) for new drivers, staged a volleyball tournament and a surfing tournament, offered a Mayor’s Scholarship for work opportunities, and provided study aid for exams for high school freshmen and seniors, among other initiatives. With the initiatives, the municipality intends to build “an environment filled with growth for the young people’s educational, recreational, professional and personal development,” the mayor said.


Cruz Molina added that the Video Game Center is available for students from public and private educational institutions.


“The new gaming center is an exciting service that is part of our efforts to bring significant opportunities to our young people,” the mayor said.


WHile the municipality was eager to bring something new to the Youth House and something positive to the community, none of it would have been possible without the funds to establish the gaming room to begin with. The project involved a $20,000 investment in which the DDEC, through its Youth Development Program, participated with $15,000 and the municipality chipped in $5,000. The overall expenses included: monitors, computer programs, towers, controllers and headphones for the development of graphic design, sound editing, animation and, of course, video games.


“We hereby declare that young people from Vega Baja will have a space to develop themselves, nurturing every skill they can learn in this space and achieving better results in terms of academic and professional life,” said Jorge E. Pagán Pagán, DDEC’s Youth Program director.


The Youth Program focuses on reaching young people in Puerto Rico between 13 and 35 years old to develop an entrepreneurial spirit focused on innovation, assuming their civic responsibilities and their participation in the economic development of Puerto Rico.


“This investment undoubtedly brings us closer to continuing to contribute to this generation and the next ones where they have quick access, achieving better opportunities without the limitation of technology,” Pagán said.


In short, the Youth House is already focused on empowering the young people of Vega Baja to achieve their dreams and begin building their personal and professional lives. The center is not just focused on helping teenagers, but also welcomes young adults through their 20s.

With the integration of learning with technology in a fun way, young people who make use of the Youth House’s Video Game Center can develop skills that can serve them as the economy heads even further into the electronic era.

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