Teen planning night yields youthful excitement
A meeting held on Oct. 30 allowed them to offer opinions and suggestions on rules, regulations and future events for the upcoming addition to the Jamestown Recreation Center. Though the new teen center will share the same building as the recreation center, additions to the site are in the works.
The center is still in its rough stages of construction, but event coordinator Melissa Minto anticipates a grand opening around Jan. 5. She is hopeful that an open house on Dec. 1 will showcase a nearly finished product and pique the interest of the community with the unveiling of a contest-winning logo.
Funds for the center have come in the form of grants from the Rhode Island Foundation, whichawarded the project $5,000 a year for three years. Although generous, Minto points out that help from volunteers would be greatly appreciated in an array of efforts, from painting to website development.
The new teen program is targeting different things than Jamestown's current Open Rec program, which limits use to only an athletic based gymnasium. Instead, the new construction comes with the promise of comfy couches in the lounge, computers equipped with Internet access in the study and movies for the entertainment area. Though it is meant to be a relaxed experience, Minto hopes parents understand that this is not a "daycare for teens," but rather a supervised locale that promotes a safe place to stimulate positive peer-to-peer communications.
The use of consents will prove an important staple for privileges such as PG-13 movies and Internet use. Parents in attendance asked to speak more in-depth about rules and regulations. However due to teens making an effort to enforce their rights of democracy, that discussion will be held at a later date between the adults.
Strict registration will be enforced upon entering the center. Visitors must give information concerning things such as emergency contacts and allergies, as well as a signed understanding of acceptable behavior.
The teens were excited to discuss possible future events that the center could host.. Suggestions of talent shows, dances and instructional classes were given, and, while event brainstorming came easy, many other topics remain to be decided. One of those topics is the hours of operation, with a Monday through Friday schedule given at the very least. Community members feel it is important to have night and possible weekend hours for teens to turn spare time into constructive time. A place to go when their homes are unsupervised, to gather for group projects, or to utilize resources for learning. Ultimately the rate of attendance will gauge many topics for the future of the center. Attendance could affect not only the hours, but also how "open" the doors of the center will be with respect to both separations of age and allowing nonresidents to attend.
An important topic that will still need to be discussed is mixing junior high students with high school students. The majority feel it is appropriate to designate times and events for teens to gather with those their own age, but with limited areas for separation of groups, the outcome for this topic remains to be seen. Additionally, if the attendance rate is high, certain measures may be taken to exclude teens that do not live in Jamestown.
The new center is on track to bring a positive program to the island, one that parents and teens seem to actually agree on.