Youth center offers safe place for teensAs one portion of East End faces an uncertain future, some young people are working to create something positive for their generation.
By: Anna Kurth, The Daily Telegram
As one portion of East End faces an uncertain future, some young people are working to create something positive for their generation.
Adult and teen volunteers from Teen Harbor are set to open a youth center April 4 at 1424 22nd Ave. E. in the midst of a group of homes purchased by Murphy Oil U.S.A.
The company obtained the homes to create a buffer around its refinery in event the land is needed for expansion. In many cases, Murphy Oil is renting homes back to their previous owners, but the Teen Harbor house was empty. The company is donating its use to Teen Harbor to support local teens.
The goal of the center is to provide a place where teens can eat a snack, do homework or relax and play games in a safe place. The idea for the youth center came to its director, Jackie Stenberg, after she saw some young people standing outside together smoking.
“Everyone I talk to says we don’t want kids standing around on the street ... causing mischief,” she said.
This gives teens a place to go and something to do, and it’s designed by teens, she said.
Both adult and teen volunteers have worked to collect donations and organize the center, but teenagers have been the driving force and the decision-makers. It was teen volunteers who introduced the youth center to the city council’s Planning Commission when it received its the OK for a special use permit in January.
Teens decided what priorities the center would have for activities and teens set the rules, Stenberg said.
Students even made the decorating decisions — which colors to paint the walls and where to place the donated furniture, said Carly Scouton, teen volunteer. Adults are there to watch and ensure everything is safe, but it’s a place for teens, she said.
The center will feature TVs, Internet access and a newly purchased Wii.
Youth went door-to-door in the East End to introduce the center to its neighbors.
Teen Harbor wants the community to be comfortable with the center when it opens, Stenberg said. Most people are supportive of the effort and think it’s a good idea for kids to have somewhere to go. Others are more skeptical, Scouton said.
“I think overall we got the support we need to get going,” she said. “It’s really good for Superior and the East End.”
The center has received tremendous support from the community. Teen Harbor is supported by the city, Hoff Foundation, Catholic Charities and UW-Extension. City council and county board members sit on the Teen Harbor board, and community donations have filled the house with furniture, but more support is still needed in the form of volunteers and donated computers and posters, Stenberg said.
The center opens at 3:15 p.m. April 4. Hours for the center are being set up for two nights during the week from 3:15 to 8 p.m., and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Adult volunteers are needed to monitor at the center. Hours will be finalized after the first volunteer orientation at 5 p.m. March 19. Anyone interested in volunteering may attend the meeting. All volunteers are subject to a background check, she said.
Teen Harbor is open to any youths on a drop-in basis during center hours. Use of the center is free, and food will be available for purchase. Teen volunteers are already busy putting up posters around East End and Superior High School to spread the word to teenagers about the center.
“Quite a few high school kids are excited that something like this is opening in the community,” Scouton said.
To learn more Teen Harbor, donate or volunteer, call Stenberg at 398-5043.
Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth@superiortelegram.