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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Thanks to two teams of Navy Seabees from the States, teens at Chinhae Naval Base now have something new: a big room in the base’s youth center set aside for teen programs’ exclusive use.

Starting in winter 2004, the Seabees were not only to refurbish the youth center’s interior but enlarge the building by 2,500 square feet. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40, Port Hueneme, Calif., began the work in December 2004. Later, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 out of Gulfport, Miss., took its turn and completed the $400,000 project.

When the center reopened Feb. 16, it offered new home economics and cooking classes in another room the Seabees built: a kitchen. They also added a storage area and enlarged the basement.

“Basically … they doubled the size of the building,” said Lt. j.g. Jessica Gandy, a Navy spokeswoman in Seoul.

During the renovation-expansion, youth activities were run from the base library.

Gandy said, “This is a huge improvement for the military community” at the base, which is headquarters of Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae.

The base, on the southeast peninsula 250 miles south of Seoul, provides logistics and other support to Navy vessels and personnel taking part in training exercises and other missions in the region. From 30 to 40 of its 350 residents are youngsters, Gandy said.

The center offers various programs geared to different age groups.

Tiny Tots, for 3- to 5-year-olds, meets 9-11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Youth Center Youth Kids program for 5- to 12-year-olds meets 2:45-5:45 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

The Teen Center program for 13- to 18-year-olds meets 5-8 p.m. Saturdays “and they have a lot of different projects,” Gandy said, “to include cooking classes, ‘Fitness Authority Day,’ where they go to a gym and play sports” and a movie day “where they go to the base theater.”

The center adjusts program hours during school vacations.

“It’s just really good for the base itself to have a place for these children to go to for fun and to learn and to have a place to hang out and not get into trouble,” said Gandy.

Call DSN 762-5381 for more information about the center’s programs and hours.

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