Many children are in crisis from the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, there's a group of people coming together in Central Square to help them adjust with a new youth activity center.

"The Hub" is in Van Lieu Park, in a building donated by the town of Hastings. A group of community leaders and a Central Square mom saw a need, and motivated by their concern for kids, made The Hub a reality.

“Some bus drivers in Central Square have told me that kids asked to ride the bus for as long as they can because they don't want to go home," said Sarah Lucas, The Hub co-founder and program director.

High schoolers Matix Ramsey and Jaydon Conway say The Hub is definitely a better alternative than what most of their friends are doing now.

“You know, they'll go home, they'll do their homework and then they'll just sit in their rooms all day, playing on their phones, or maybe that's at work, but the better alternative to going home and doing nothing is to come and hang out with your friends and do your work here in a big community sort of style," said Ramsey, a freshman at Paul V. Moore High School.

“A lot of kids are probably depressed. So this will probably be good to help them and hang out, socialize with people that they like and just have a good time,” said Conway, a Moore High School sophomore.

“For kids our age to, after school, come over and work together, or if they're just hanging out in general. There's areas around where you could do physical activity and stuff," said Ramsey.

“Just having a resource of a youth center with the opportunity to talk to other adults who are super caring and interested in their lives and investing in them in their future. I think it's really important because parents are trying their best; teachers are trying their best,” said Lucas.

Lucas says they plan to teach life skills at the center as well through fun challenges, like cooking competitions, to help close the developmental chasm created among youths by COVID-19.

“We won't actually know what these effects are until a few years down the road. And I think missing out, especially middle school age, on the social socialization and making those friends is really going to hurt them. And we kind of want to jump the gun and instead of having to wait and see what happens, we want to just pour into these kids now,” said Lucas.

The Hub will operate on donations to cover insurance and overhead expenses. Lucas says she is planning pop-up events and programming this summer and will have the center open on a more regular basis in September, Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m., for middle and high school students.