BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Chris McCoy was told they could never do it. He’s executive director of New Level Sports Ministries and was told by peers they couldn’t create a safe place where kids can learn to cook and garden and play basketball in their spare time. However they kicked off their capital campaign over the weekend and introduced to Battle Creek their plans to create a Youth Village.
“We want our Village to always be moving,” said McCoy during an interview in the current facility on Michigan Ave and Kendall Street. “Kids knowing that if I go to the Youth Village I can get housing. I can get help. I can get a meal. I can go to college. I can my grades right.”
McCoy said the Youth Village will serve over 800 urban kids, from infants to high school graduates. Their current space, which is connected to the church he pastors Faith Assembly Christian Fellowship, will expand to take up the entire block from Kendall street to Cass street. The $3,000,000 complex will house a football field, basketball court, a 24-hour daycare service for teen parents, a children’s garden and a licensed kitchen where kids can learn to cook and cater meals.
“We’re going to put in an early childhood playground,” said McCoy. “We want that to be unique. We don’t want that be like another typical playground. We want to have a water park in that playground. A real water park.”
Teens will also get the chance to jumpstart their college career. New Level partnered with Michigan State University to help students learn about agriculture and landscaping.
“Offsite we have the Custard Greens Golf Course, a New Level Sports golf course,” said McCoy. “With that there’ll be soil science, golf course management, and related sciences that most urban kids don’t know about.”
There will also be a Dream Lounge, added McCoy. It’ll be a place where junior high and high school students can go to talk about their dreams and what they’d like to do and become. Staffers subsequently will help them attain their dreams and help them say “I can” to their future.
“I can be an athlete. I can be an entertainer. I can be an entrepreneur,” said McCoy regarding what he wants the kids to declare out loud for themselves. “It’s very important because a lot of the opportunities that other children have, urban children don’t have those same opportunities.”
McCoy said the City of Battle Creek has already stated their support. He believes the Youth Village will be great way to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble. He said they’re use to being lied to by society and the adults in their lives. But the Village is something they’ve been working on for years. And it's finally coming to true.
“They said they wanted this in 20-10,” said McCoy. “It’s 20-16. And we’ve been working on this and now it has manifested itself to a point where people now are beginning to believe that this is going to happen.”