Health & Wellness Center Opens in DHS

POSTED: 09:36 PM PST Jan 14, 2013 
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. -

Sinking a billiards shot on a brand new pool table isn't something these kids from Desert Hot Springs take for granted.

"A weight room, a pool, a gym and friends," are just the tip of the iceberg of what the massive 32,200 square-foot Community Health and Wellness Center in Desert Hot Springs brings to the table.

"The Teen Center is awesome," says LaLa Clary, a 16-year-old already busy finding things to do on Friday.

It is a facility so big it took not one, but two separate ribbon cuttings to fully open.

It is described as a place to play, a place to work and a place to heal.

"(It's a) Boys and girls club slash heath and wellness center slash aquatic center," describes Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez of Coachella, D-56.  "It's a beautiful sight."

At a grand opening that brought together lawmakers and leaders from around Southern California, including the area's newest U.S. Congressman, Dr. Raul Ruiz D-36, Perez also said facilities like these help in gang and drug prevention.

"I hope we can continue to build these across the Coachella Valley.  It's definitely a model in the state of California," said Perez.  

"In that period in between school and when their parents get home, (children have) got a place to go.  They can stay off the streets, stay out of trouble," explained Desert Hot Springs Mayor Yvonne Parks, visibly excited.

"Some teens don't know how to just walk away from a problem," Clary said.  "So when we come to the Boys & Girls Club there are counselors that can help us through it.  And there are many things to do."

And not just for people Clary's age.  The adjoining aquatic center features a competition-length swimming pool, a splash pad, and locker rooms.  The Health and Wellness Center has dental and medical exam rooms and a kitchen.

"A place to learn healthy eating and cooking, dental care.  They can come twice a year to have their teeth checked," Parks explains.

Desert Healthcare District contributed $5.7 million in funding.  Much of the land on Cholla Drive was donated by desert philanthropist John Furbee, who also gave generously to pay for the aquatic center named in his honor.

On Saturday, the Boys & Girls Club got the finishing touches when Kaboom built them a brand-new playground in just one day as part of the events surrounding the Humana Challenge.