Why are youth
centers important?
Youth centers are important gathering places that offer quality after-school programs. Many studies have been done on teen centers and have shown that teen centers:

  • Decrease juvenile crime
  • Decrease the likelihood that teens will be victims of violent crime
  • Decrease teen participation in risky behaviors, such as drug, alcohol, and tobacco use
  • Lead teens to develop new skills and interests
  • Improve teens' grades and academic achievement
  • Encourage teens to reach higher in planning their futures
  • Increase teens' self-confidence and social skills*

*Information from www.safeyouth.org


Success Story Continued

It was after midnight but the volunteer counselor was contacted and came right away. While he was calming down Todd, arrangements were being made by the teen staff for Todd to stay at a shelter for the night. Most of the shelters were already full, but one had an opening, and after a lot of fast talking arrangements were made for Todd to spend one night. The following day, the arrangements were extended to three nights. Then he would have to go elsewhere. We had to work fast. The volunteer counselor set up a meeting with Todd’s mother the following day. She explained that Todd had run away several times before, and that her husband had given up trying to get through to Todd and did not want him back at all. She was frustrated with the entire situation and did not know where to turn. She had been through several State programs for family counseling and Todd had half heartedly participated, but her husband had refused to go with her. She was at her wits end.

Ross, our permanent staffer, stepped in and called for a “round table”, a meeting with all parties where each can voice their feelings within certain guidelines. Ross would be the moderator and enforce the rules. There could be no accusations, no name calling, no unfounded statements; no blame could be placed; only feelings about facts and events could be discussed. The father agreed to participate, which was a surprise, and Todd and his mother did too. Neither of the teachers could make the first round table, but both agreed to come to the second one which was scheduled for the following day. The first round table lasted about an hour and many tears flowed and emotions were high. By the time it was over Todd and his parents had the beginnings of an honest relationship, but much still had to be worked out.

The second round table was not so successful. The teachers had high expectations and were willing to work with Todd and his parents, but their time was very limited and there were many other students who they were responsible for, as well. As it turned out, Todd was a lazy student who did not want to do the work and was disruptive in class. While both of the teachers said they wanted to help, neither had the time or the energy, and neither really wanted Todd back in their classes. It was an eye opening experience.

The third round table resulted in Todd and his parents working out some basic ground rules to live by, and a plan for Todd to return home again. The fact that the shelter would not have him back for a week had some influence on Todd’s motivation to accept some rules and go home. This was the most successful session and a turning point for Todd. He agreed to participate in the study groups that the teens had created, and he agreed to the rules that his parents had laid out for him. His parents also had a change of attitude and agreed to follow some self imposed guidelines when dealing with Todd, some of which came from the round table rules. Things were looking up for Todd at home, but there was still the school issue to deal with.

Ross contacted the school Principal and met with her and one of the school guidance counselors. Todd was moved to different classes for English and History, and agreed to try harder and participate in class. Later, Todd was introduces into the study groups for those subjects. The study groups were formed by the teen government to allow students to teach other students in subjects where help was needed. Students who were strong in a subject shared their knowledge with others who were struggling. Homework was discussed and many aspects of the subject were examined to help students to better understand the subject. Todd turned out to be a natural for these groups. His whole attitude changed and he excelled in English and History, becoming an A student in both subjects. His other grades improved, too, and Todd began to enjoy school.

While Todd’s home life was still not perfect, he stayed home and eventually went to college, where he graduated at the top of his class. He is now employed full time and is married to a wonderful girl he met at the teen center.

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