2008-12-18 / Front Page

Teen Center gets improvement ideas from evaluation

By Eileen M. Daly

The Jamestown Teen Center is headed in the right direction, the town learned after the center recently underwent a program evaluation as part of the Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance.

"When I heard about this opportunity to have the teen center evaluated, I was all for it," Recreation Director Bill Piva said. "It is always a good idea to have outside experts take a look at a new program like this," he added.

The Rhode Island Program Quality Assurance evaluation included direct observation of program activities, staff, community and parent surveys as well as overall policy and procedure reviews, Teen Center coordinator Deb Tungett said. Overall the evaluation was a success, according to Piva. "It was really a positive experience. Mainly we heard that we are doing a lot of things right with the teen center," Piva said. "The evaluators pointed out that the teens are really involved and that there is excellent community outreach and involvement. The things that were pointed out that need work were mainly administrative."

The evaluation process began in October and ended last week with a meeting to review the goals that have been identified and the procedures for implementing those goals.

The major goals identified by the RIPQA evaluation were: increased parent involvement, increased youth engagement in the areas of planning and program development and the development of formal staff policy and procedures. Also included were individual professional development goals and emergency procedure drills, Tungett said.

In order to address the goal of parental involvement the center would like to create an advisory board that includes both parents and community members. "Ideally, we'd like to have a core group of ten to fifteen members. We'd like to have at least one or two parents, one member of the town council, a member from the Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force, Lawn Avenue Student Assistance Counselor Steph Nocon, one school social worker or guidance counselor, one school administrator, and a representative from the local police and fire departments," Tungett said. In order to accomplish this, Tungett said, teen center staff are drawing up e-mail lists of possible volunteers. They will then email a request for volunteer participation to those on the list. "We are hoping to have a positive response," Tungett said.

Similarly, the development of a youth advisory board to involve adolescents in program development is underway, Tungett said. "The kids have already named their group, Adolescents Making Programs for Teens," Tungett said. "AMPT is open to all students in grades 7 to 12 regardless of what school they attend." The goal of the youth advisory board, according to Tungett, is to plan one major event each month.

They have already begun implementing this, Tungett said. The first big event occurred Saturday night with a lock-in, dodge ball tournament called the Dodge the Holiday Blues Tournament. "The dodge ball tournament was a collaborative effort," Tungett said. "Jessica Walsh from the Women's Resource Center, teen center coordinators from the Newport Boys and Girls Club and the Newport Martin Luther King Center were in attendance," Tungett said. Activities were planned for the entire night, according to Tungett, and included the dodge ball tournament, arts and crafts activities, and games. Teens could also participate in making a holiday gift for their families. "The Accidental Artist provided gifts at a generous discount," Tungett said. "The children worked on their gifts during the lock-in," Tungett said, "and staff members made sure the gifts were taken to be fired later." Local teen DJ, Jeremy Wigton provided entertainment. There was also a guest appearance by a DJ from radio station Hot 106, Tungett said.

Another big event is scheduled for this month at the teen center. A winter wonderland semi-formal dance is scheduled for this Saturday, Dec.19 as part of a benefit for the Invisible Children Fund, Tungett said.

The AMPT group has also begun working on a set schedule for daily activities at the teen center. Thus far they have established the following activities: Tuesday is job readiness, Wednesday is open recreation, Thursday, scrapbooking and Friday, cooking. Plans for Saturday are still in the making, Tungett said.

Steve Dolce from the East Bay Community Action Program will run the job readiness program on Tuesdays. "The program will be held on Tuesdays from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and will be open to all ages," Tungett said. "The teens will be able to work on interviewing skills, learn how to prepare a resume and fill out an application along with other job readiness skill preparation," she said.

The center will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after Christmas. During the school break, center hours will be: Monday to Friday, noon to 8 p.m.

Following the break, center hours will be: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2 to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 2 to 9 p.m. The center is closed on Sunday and Monday.

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