Thursday, September 17, 2009

Teen Center Goals and Vision

(Today's guest blog was written by Mr. Mike Gabrys. Mike is famous - to me, at least - for making sure people don't fall down Pichincha when hiking, and for holding the in-house record for longest time sporting a mustache... out of the boys, of course. Enjoy!)

Mike playing a game of "piedritas" with Gisela

"I'm Mike, the fifth guest blogger. I hale from Northville, Michigan, which is a suburb of Detroit. After spending the last six years at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, I have developed an appetite for live country music that I'm finding difficult to satiate here. I like to run, ride my bike, eat toast, and beat Erik in chess.

This year, I'll be working with the library program with Jackie, and the Teen Center with Shawn. As Jackie has given you some insight into the direction the
library is headed, I'm going to focus on the Teen Center.

As you hopefully already know, this past weekend we had a back-to-school party for Teen Center. All the arrangements- music, speakers, snacks, decorations, and publicity- were handled by the teens themselves. This not only made our job easier (after all, I'm still struggling with the language) but also allowed the teens to take ownership of the party, which contributes to fulfilling the goals of the Teen Center. For awhile Shawn and I doubted if the teens would pull through, but in the end, everything worked out.

The teen center serves as a place where older youth in our communities to socialize, free of the influences of alcohol.  The Teen Center also seeks to develop teens as leaders, offer supplemental educational opportunities, and integrate neighborhood cliques. A major component of this is the Teen Board. The board is in charge of planning events and outings, like the party last weekend; selecting topics for panel discussions we will have later in the year; and opening the Teen Center when a profe isn't there. The members are selected by peers to represent the different groups that come to the center.

This year we hope to build on the success of last year and the work of Seth and previous PDs by making the space more engaging for teens.  This includes having more things to do, more ways to interact with one another, and offering this space as a safe place to talk about issues facing teenagers.  This will take some time, but as we've seen already, the teens can pull together and accomplish the task if they've set their minds to it.

Along with the library, we are writing a grant proposal for furniture, magazine subscriptions, and stimulative games. Additional items we would appreciate are on our Wishlist; we continually add to it, so check back often.

The past few weeks have afforded everybody in the house an opportunity to meet and get to know the teens. They are a great group, and I look forward to updating their progress throughout the year.


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