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New Teen Center Starts Taking Shape

POSTED September 20, 2011 9:27 p.m.

Janelle Scheper looked all over the Central Valley for the perfect location for a new youth center, and she found her ideal spot in downtown Oakdale. The Zone, scheduled to open in October, will offer entertainment for children and youth from toddlers to teens at its South Second Avenue location.
“Oakdale has been very warm and receiving. I think they see a need for a youth center in this area,” Scheper said.
Scheper has over 20 years of experience as a youth pastor, and spent the last 10 years as a youth pastor at Hilmar Covenant Church. She said that she decided to pursue her dream of opening a teen center in February, and has been looking for the right location ever since. Her time as a youth minister taught her the value of kid-centric entertainment venues and she is passionate about giving children a place to call their own.
“We need to offer these kids something to do, and a safe place to do it,” Scheper said.
Scheper and her family and friends have been working daily on renovations in order to open The Zone by their anticipated grand opening date next month. The building had been unoccupied for the last several months, but had the space and basic layout that was perfect for a youth center, Scheper said. The Zone will include several entertainment options for children and will be a cross between a youth center and an arcade. There are two rooms that can be rented out for birthday parties, or kids can pay a fee to visit individually.
There will be a kids’ zone with a make-believe shopping mall and other toddler attractions on the ground floor. There is a sitting room with a large window that looks into the toddler area that Scheper said will be a “mommy lounge.” Parents will be required to stay with their younger children but can easily watch them through the viewing window.
The Zone will also include a remote control racecar track for older kids. Scheper said that car racing has a following in the area and many kids will bring their own cars, or they can rent one from the center. There will also be a six-foot climbing wall where kids can climb laterally, rather than straight up. The Zone will also include a laser challenge maze and an arcade for older children. Scheper and her crew are busy painting and decorating The Zone with custom artwork.
“I’m really excited about it, I’m following my passion, this is what I want to do,” Scheper said.
The projected grand opening date for The Zone is Oct. 17. There will normally be an entry fee, but Scheper is considering a free four-hour pass for the first day. The Zone is located at 131 S. Second Ave. and shares a parking lot with the Stanislaus County Library branch in Oakdale and the Gene Bianchi Community Center.

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