Naperville teen spot moving to new nonprofit 'Alive Center'

  • Kandice K. Henning, executive director of Alive Center, stands in the space she plans to open in April as her new organization merges with the nonprofit teen center NaperBridge.

      Kandice K. Henning, executive director of Alive Center, stands in the space she plans to open in April as her new organization merges with the nonprofit teen center NaperBridge. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • A new Naperville nonprofit group called the Alive Center soon will begin construction on a 5,000-square-foot space at 500 W. 5th Ave. The space will host programs to "connect with what makes them come alive" and will become the headquarters of the teen center NaperBridge.

      A new Naperville nonprofit group called the Alive Center soon will begin construction on a 5,000-square-foot space at 500 W. 5th Ave. The space will host programs to "connect with what makes them come alive" and will become the headquarters of the teen center NaperBridge. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/8/2015 11:03 AM

NaperBridge teen center is moving out of downtown Naperville to join a nearby nonprofit group that offers more space to host programs and events.

The teen center will be moving in with Alive Center, a new organization founded by Executive Director Kandice K. Henning to help people "connect with what makes them come alive."

 

Starting late this month, contractors will build out the merged group's 5,000-square-foot "warehouse-style" space at 500 W. 5th Ave. behind Naperville North High School.

"We had a cool space, but we were just so darn limited in what we could do there," Jeff Haake, NaperBridge's board president, said about the roughly 600-square-foot area NaperBridge will leave this weekend at the rear of 231 S. Washington St. "I really loved being downtown, but I think we'll be able to do so much more in the new space."

More students now will have room to attend NaperBridge's free after-school drop-in program or stop by for a concert or art event at the new space. Haake said NaperBridge also might explore arranging transportation between junior high schools and the new center now that there will be room for buses to drop off students.

The new space aims to open in April and will welcome teens in the afternoon and adults earlier in the day for a variety of programs Henning plans to offer, including art therapy, Hula Hooping, expressive writing, leadership, meditation, healthy cooking and life coaching.

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She said she aligned with NaperBridge before launching Alive Center because of the similarities between her mission and the teen center's.

"As soon as I signed the lease and moved forward, people kept telling me I needed to talk to NaperBridge," Henning said. "Their mission is about belonging. We want to continue to have that as well as add in that aspect of 'What is your passion? What makes you come alive? Let's help you find that.'"

As a mother of two teenage boys, Henning said she wants to assist teens as well as adults and "just the average person out there who could use a little help connecting with their best self and living a more conscious life."

Haake said joining with Alive Center offered NaperBridge a better funding model, as Henning plans to charge for most adult programs. Teen events will remain largely free and student-designed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

NaperBridge student board members will help Haake on Saturday to move the furniture from the downtown room NaperBridge has occupied since November 2013. Then, it'll be up to the teens to fill the time between the old space and the new.

"They have an amazing student board. They're very good at letting the kids create the programs," Henning said. "We're going to keep all of that."

Construction is expected to begin Jan. 26 after a fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 24 to let people envision the intertwined futures of NaperBridge and Alive Center and experience programs they could soon try. Tickets to the event cost $25 and are available at buytickets.at/alivecenter.

Henning said she's hearing excitement about the place of well-being, growth and purpose she is creating.

"I do feel like there's a really nice community forming around this," she said.

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