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Boys and Girls Club of the Northwoods expands with new teen center in Antigo

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The Boys and Girls Club of the Northwoods expanded in 2020 when it opened a location in Rhinelander. Now, it’s expanding again with a new teen center in downtown Antigo.

When the pandemic hit two years ago, the Boys and Girls Club of the Northwoods shut down entirely. But since then, participation in the program has been climbing.

“We made it through the pandemic, and then we saw our attendance just starting to skyrocket,” says Angel Zimmerman, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Northwoods.

Membership in the club is up 25 percent compared to 2021.

Zimmerman says it’s such a jump that the club has outgrown its Antigo facility.

“We’ve been in our current building for the past 11 years,” she says. “There’s just not enough space for teens. It’s nice to give them their own space.”

The new teen center will open in June. It’ll have a game room, media technology room, cafeteria and program areas.

Zimmerman says she expects the move will double the population of teens enrolled in the program from 30 to 60.

“It’s been great to see the growth and the different ways that we can help out the youth in our community and make sure that they can be successful,” she says.

The teen center will focus on helping kids explore career options and offer mentorship opportunities.

Zimmerman says she thinks interest in the program is expanding partly because of programs like these. But she also says the club has formed close relationship with local schools, it is able to provide free snacks and dinner to participants, and it recently hired a mental health coordinator at a time when more students experience poor mental health.

Other Boys and Girls Clubs in Wisconsin are also expanding, including clubs in Menominee, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. Since the pandemic, new clubs have been established in Manitowoc, Reedsburg and Shawano.

The Boys and Girls Club of the Northwoods’ expansion plans don’t end with the Antigo teen center.

It’s hoping to build a clubhouse in Rhinelander within the next five years, and is working to become certified to care for 5- and 6-year-olds by next school year.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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