WHEELING — The Nelson Jordan Center is one of East Wheeling’s best kept secrets. However, its popularity is growing among youngsters throughout the community.
The Nelson Jordan Center, 12th and Jacob streets, is a recreational facility for area youth. Established by Nelson Jordan in 1950, the facility was originally known as the Colored Recreation Center. The building adopted Jordan’s name when he died in 1969.
Although the center is located in East Wheeling, many of the participants come from the entire city to participate in the activities offered there, said director Rod Lee.
“We have talent shows and work with a group out of Youth Services called ‘We Are the Future,’” Lee commented. “Dances, parties and rap contests are held here.”
Lee mentioned that last year’s Christmas party was highly successful, with about140 attendees.
“Not one left without a smile on his or her face,” said Lee.
All activities at the center, including basketball for grades one through eight, flag football for grades one through six, weighlifting, aerobics and boxing, are free and open to the public. James Tiu, owner of the Salsa Cafe in Wheeling, teaches boxing. The Black Diamond Wrestling team stops by every other month to offer a demonstration. Children up to age 12 receive free admittance. This presentation is enjoyed by children and adults.
Lee mentioned that basketball is one of the center’s biggest programs.
On Feb. 2 and 3, basketball teams from Nelson Jordan traveled to Cambridge, Ohio, to compete in the Guernsey County Court Appointed Special Advocates basketball tournament. Each five-on-five game lasted 20 minutes. Shirts ’N More of Wheeling donated more than $500 worth of reversible shirts to participating students. Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade boys and sixth-grade boys and girls divisions competed in this double elimination tournament. The fourth-graders were co-champions, the fifth-grade division won first place and the girls took home second.
The Nelson Jordan Center works in connection with Macedonia Baptist Church for an afterschool tutoring program. The Rev. Albert K. Anderson Jr., senior pastor, said that area high, middle and elementary school students are welcome to visit the church for free tutoring, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Student tutors from Wheeling Park High School and The Linsly School will be available to assist students with math, science and reading only.
During the summer, Laughlin Chapel and other facilities in the community offer tutoring. Anderson said Macedonia is not in competition with these facilities, but serves as a back-up.
“If places are filled, we’re willing to open the door,” said Anderson. “We want to improve academic scores.”
Anderson will be doing work with children and adults in the community including drug awareness, community awareness, parenting classes and life skills at Macedonia.
Life skills will assist those who were in prison prepare for a career and hold their position.
Sadly, many children who became well-rounded individuals through the help of the Nelson Jordan Center leave the area as soon as they come of age, Lee observed. He said their success is never fully embraced by the community.
U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan and Delegates Orphy Klempha and Tal Hutchins have helped secure funding for the center, which is funded by the city of Wheeling, but additional funding is still needed.
The Nelson Jordan Center is open from 5-9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on an as needed basis.
Players from the Nelson Jordan Center who stood out at the CASA basketball tournament Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 in Cambridge were recognized with a trophy. From left are: Coach R. J. Saunders; Theo Blackston, MVP fifth grade; Savion Johnson, co-MVP fourth grade; Sissy George, co-MVP girls; Elijah Bell, Mr. Hustle; Tre Saunders, co-MVP fourth grade; J.J. Jackson, co-MVP girls; and Coach Boogie Johnson.