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Arlington's Youth Dynamics renovates ‘Mud Hut’
ARLINGTON — Before its recently completed renovations, the look of the “Mud Hut” in downtown Arlington reflected its name in some less than aesthetically appealing ways.
“This used to be all brown,” said Stuart Delony, director of Arlington Youth Dynamics, which runs the Mud Hut on the top floor of the American Legion building on Olympic Avenue.
Arlington Youth Dynamics has been reaching out to teens in the greater Arlington area since 1994, and the focus of its outreach has been Arlington-area middle and high school students. The Mud Hut is a drop-in-center that was set up as a safe place for teens to hang out, do their homework, play pool and video games, and drink coffee.
According to Delony, the Mud Hut received volunteer labor from the Arlington Kiwanis Club, whose members repainted its kitchen and bathroom, and from Smokey Point Concrete, whose employees helped install new flooring.
“We knocked down a wall, retiled the counters and tore out the carpeting,” Delony said. “The smoke from the floor below, when it had allowed people to smoke there, had filtered up through the floor, and even years later, you could still smell it in the carpets.”
With the brighter color scheme and more open interior architecture, which allows natural sunlight to filter through the windows all the way to the back of its floor space, the Mud Hut now also boats a big-screen TV equipped with a PlayStation, an espresso machine in its kitchen and unique features handmade by the youths who visit the Mud Hut, such as “chandeliers” made out of table lamps that have been hung upside down from the ceiling.
“We just want to give local kids a place where they can have fun and stay out of trouble,” said Delony, who added that Youth Dynamics mentors are available on site for the roughly 30 kids a week whom he estimated circulate through the Mud Hut. “We’re starting to see some new faces. We see a lot of high school kids, but we’re starting to see a lot more kids from Haller Middle School.”
The Arlington Youth Dynamics “Mud Hut” is located on the top floor of the American Legion building at 115 N. Olympic Ave. in Arlington, and is open Mondays from 5-10 p.m. and Wednesdays from 2:30-5 p.m. First time visitors get a free coffee or other beverage. Several times a year, Youth Dynamics also offers adventure trips including whitewater rafting, backpacking and rock-climbing, which are designed to teach teens responsibility, self-confidence, leadership skills and respect.