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Blues Gym gives kids a 'safe place to learn' through after school program

The learning center opened Thursday, Dec. 12.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A local gym is providing kids of all ages with a safe place to learn and interact with kids their age in a healthy way. 

Blues Gym held its grand opening for the learning center on Thursday. 

"The mission...is to provide a safe place for kids to get them off the street. To help them have alternative activities," said Joel Langlois, a board member of the gym. 

The program was founded by Dino Newville, the owner of the gym. It welcomes all kids and adults and gives them access to computers, videos, computer games, books and more, according to Langlois. 

The program is made possible through volunteers and donations. Local teachers and counselors spend their time after school at the gym from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. to help the kids complete their school work. 

"A lot of [the kids]...have very little education. Our tutors are going to help them in any way they ask; whether it be reading or math," said Mike Laarman, a board member at Blues Gym. 

Laarman said this newly-instated program won't be successful without the community's support. They are looking for volunteers to help with a variety of tasks from cleaning to teaching, and to donate food and clothing. 

He urges people to "just [come] see the faces of the children on a Saturday morning and [see] their cheer," he said. 

Organizers hope to expand the program to assist adults with getting their GED. 

"Anything we can afford to do, we will," Laarman said. 

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