Dallas Maverick Devin Harris prepares to make his imprint on the new Kids-U learning center.

The children of Kids-U at Jackson/Park Ninety Six 90 Branch Apartments in the Forest-Audelia area were thrilled upon the unveiling of a new learning center, where Tuesday afternoon they were greeted by Dallas Maverick Devin Harris. The Mavs Foundation, the team’s nonprofit arm, made the remodel possible.

Kids U students were giddy as they explored their new digs.

“I was amazed,” says 7th grader British (who we interviewed for a story about Kids-U’s crime and code mapping project) of the revamped space. He’s not really a basketball fan, he says; the excitement came from “all I saw, I mean, the walls, the pictures. Everything. It looked like that before,” he says, pointing to a “before” poster on display depicting a bland, beige room, “and look at it now.”

The center fills the space of an extra-large apartment unit, includes multiple rooms filled with computers, games, puzzles and books. Mavs jerseys and motivational art adorn the walls. Harris placed his big basketball-player handprint at the top of a tree mural up front, autographed the wall, then lifted child after child so they could make their own marks.

Kids-U is an afterschool initiative embedded in several Dallas apartment communities where families and working parents tend to reside. Lake Highlands is home to seven of 10 Kids-U sites. Lake Highlands resident Diana Baker co-founded the nonprofit in 2002.

In May several Kids-U participants, including British — I can’t overstate how exceptional this young man is — recently made the trip to Dallas City Hall to point out problems in their neighborhoods to city council representatives.

Learn more about Kids-U locations and how you might get involved here.