ARLINGTON — Editor’s Note: This story has been modified from its original version to say that T.J. Shackelford lives with his father at the Salvation Army’s Family Life Center in Arlington.T.J. Shackleford has lived with his dad and older brother at the Salvation Army’s Family Life Center for seven months.His dad works late nights leaving T.J. bored and alone. That changed Monday with the opening of the Gene and Jerry Jones Family North Texas Youth Education Town.“Now that this is open, it will make being here fun,” said T.J., a 12-year-old student at South Davis Elementary School.T.J. is among hundreds of North Texas students who will benefit from the after-school programs and other amenities at the $4.75 million facility, a legacy of the 2011 Super Bowl that will help disadvantaged children and their parents.NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former Cowboys Emmitt Smith and Daryl Johnston presided over the grand opening.“Nobody in this community — I repeat — nobody in this community has done more for the Salvation Army than what the [Joneses] have done,” Smith said.The Youth Education Town, at 712 W. Abram St., has space dedicated for educational and recreational activities, including after-school homework help, GED classes and workforce assistance.“We’re standing here today for youth, and we’re standing here today for young people,” Jones said.The 38,000-square-foot facility features a computer lab, dance studio, gym, athletic field, playground and six community rooms to serve about 200 students daily. Membership is $30 a month, but financial assistance is available.“To the Salvation Army, thank you so much for what you’ve done here. We know this is going to be a great legacy of Super Bowl XLV. We’re proud to be part of it and thank all of you for your hard work,” Goodell said.Johnston spoke on behalf of the Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, which donated more than $2 million for the project. “This will be not only the best YET, yet, but the best YET ever,” Johnston said. Cowboys cheerleaders rooted for children who got to run a play on a 10-yard strip of turf alongside Smith and Johnston before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.Confetti cannons lit up the room with an array of white and red, which covered rain-soaked hair with tiny pieces of tissue and brought smiles to children’s faces. The North Texas Youth Education Town is the result of donations from NFL Charities, the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Arlington Youth Foundation and Coca-Cola.“God bless the NFL, God bless the Dallas Cowboys and God bless the Salvation Army’s Youth Education Town,” said David Jeffrey, the Salvation Army’s national commander. This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST