Breaking News
More () »

Change Center opens its doors Friday

The center's journey to open started back in 2016, inspired by a 15-year-old who died after shielding friends from gunfire.

The Change Center of Knoxville officially opened its doors on Friday after years of construction and fundraising.

The staff plans to continue the grand opening celebration over the weekend.

A peek inside the building on Harriet Tubman Street in East Knoxville unveils a skating rink, arcade, a think tank and several community resource rooms.

"The reason we created that is because young people, as a matter of fact African American males from the ages of 14 to 24 were dying all over the country," Change Center Board Member," Pastor Daryl Arnold said. 

The journey getting the center open started back in 2016, but Pastor Arnold said the idea came years before that. 

After Mayor Rogero helped launch the Save Our Sons initiative, a task force was created to help brainstorm on ways to help young men of color in Knoxville. Arnold said this is where the mission began.

In 2015, 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson died after shielding friends from gunfire. Pastor Arnold said this and other acts of violence reinforced why the need for a place young people was a necessity. 

"We sat down with a group of young men and they said one of the things they struggle with is not having a safe place to go and so we created the Change Center," Arnold said.

Joshua Gardner is 15 years old and took a job at the center to work part-time as a skating rink referee.

"I'm glad that I can be a part of this change, I've always wanted to help little kids," Gardner said. 

Gardner said he's excited and he looks forward to the community having a chance to experience this new beginning.

"It's important for people to know good things can happen in East Knoxville too," he said.

Before You Leave, Check This Out