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The undertone of BASE: ‘Safe Environment’

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The main level of the new BASE community center includes SPark, or Spanish Peaks Area for Recreation and Knowledge, and an area for younger children to come play. PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

By Bella Butler MANAGING EDITOR

BIG SKY – The long-awaited BASE community center will open to the public on March 13, offering recreation, wellness programs and gathering space under the mission for which it’s named: Big Adventure, Safe Environment. 

From rock climbing to spin classes, the facility promises adventure from top to bottom. But the undertone of the building, according to BASE Director Madeleine Feher, is the Safe Environment component of BASE.

At the forefront, safety is emphasized through features like what Feher describes as a “state of the art security system,” including a staff safety officer.

At the building’s east entrance, a vestibule will remain open beyond BASE’s operating hours to provide a warm, indoor space for bus riders to wait for their ride.

“The goal,” Feher said, “is to lay that groundwork so we have that right out of the gate as being trusted by parents … teachers and professionals to provide that quality experience in a safe manner.”

In another effort to make BASE a safe environment, BSCO brought in local partners. Shannon Steele, the behavioral health program officer with the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, has worked with BASE on ways to integrate mental health support into the building

Steele will take residency upstairs in the BASE building as a resource for community members seeking mental health resources. People looking to connect with Steele can either use the stairs or a discreet elevator.

The mental health resources in BASE can be accessed via a discreet elevator. PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

Facility staff will also be trained as “wellness navigators” equipped to direct those in need of mental health support to appropriate resources.

“We see BASE as such a centralized hub and it’s such an opportunity to equip the workforce there and the volunteers to have the skillset to know what the resources are in the community … what can really support people’s health and wellness,” Steele said.

Steele envisions growing the mental health services at BASE and will adjust as necessary.

“We want to evolve with what we learn from the community once the door is open,” she said.

BASE is designed to be a safe environment for everyone, Feher said, including Big Sky’s youth.

“That time in life is so challenging, and so critical to who you become as an adult,” she said, adding that she hopes BASE can be a facility where young people can come for guidance, safety, activity and support.

SPark, or the Spanish Peaks Area for Recreation and Knowledge, is one of the first spaces you enter in BASE. The open lounge has comfortable seating, ping pong, air hockey and fusbol tables, and a TV.

Big Sky Community Organization staff gathers in the SPark area of the new community center. PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

Not only reserved for youth, Feher said this space is ideal for gathering, something she and Montgomery emphasized as a crucial benefit of BASE. 

With the exception of approved functions, BASE will be a substance-free space.

“That’s just part of the mission, part of the drive,” Feher said, “to provide that alternative space where you can walk in and know that you’re not going to have to be confronted by something that maybe you’re uncomfortable with, and to have everybody on the same playing field.”

BASE will host community days on March 11 and 12, where community members can tour the space, purchase membership passes and learn more about the center.

BASE membership passes go on sale on March 1. The purchase link will be available on bsco.org along with registration for programs and classes.

Stay tuned for continued coverage of BASE leading up to the March 13 opening. Read about ‘Big Adventure’ in Big Sky’s first community center here.

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