When school started up again in September the Teen Center attendance suffered greatly. Some of the older regulars have classes in the afternoon, after school activities, or too much homework to come and play video games. Just when Charlie, Watkins and I were starting to get concerned about our program, the library party gave us a huge advertising boost and brought a swarm of new faces to the teen center. With several of Emily and Taylor’s nutrition students now frequenting the Centro, we can once again bother nearby English classes with sounds of Mario and bouncing ping-pong balls.
Profe Joaquin has started teaching some of the teens how to play chess, which has been a huge hit. Steven, a 12 year old from nutrition class has been to the Teen Center every day since the library party and is always begging to play. It is an awesome game for them to learn because of all the concentration and thinking ahead it requires. It is also great to see them turn off the video games for a while and doing something more mentally stimulating. Surprisingly, the teens have also gotten very excited about making bracelets. Since we re-organized the Center and left out string to make jewelry, it has been a new favorite activity. Nothing makes my day like having teenage boys beg me to help them make friendship bracelets.
We decided to re-instated monthly movie nights, which the teens are very happy about. Although we wish they wouldn’t always pick bad horror movies, the profes enjoy it as well. We decided to alternate every two weeks having either a Friday night movie, or some other organized weekend activity. Last Saturday we took the teens on a paseo to Parque Carolina in Quito, to meet up with Profe Ashley who ran the teen center last year. We lucked out with a rain-free afternoon and got to spend a few hours playing soccer, skateboarding, climbing trees, and eating cookies in the park. We were joined on the trip by two of our Adult English students and friends Walter and Evo who also wanted to see Ashley, and get out of the valley for a while. While attendance wasn’t quite as high as we were expecting (many teens signed up but then didn’t show up) our first teen center paseo was a success. For the next paseo we are going to try and stay a little closer to the Centro so that more teens are allowed to come. We have some exciting things planned for the Teen Center in the coming months so stay tuned for more updates!