2011-11-03 / News

Teen center’s advisory group enters its third year


(From left) On Tuesday, Kieran McCarthy, 12, Eli Lis, 13, Debbie Tungett, teen coordinator, Audrey Tuttle, 15, and Luke Lis, 16, discuss fundraising opportunities for the Jamestown Teen Center. 
PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN (From left) On Tuesday, Kieran McCarthy, 12, Eli Lis, 13, Debbie Tungett, teen coordinator, Audrey Tuttle, 15, and Luke Lis, 16, discuss fundraising opportunities for the Jamestown Teen Center. PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN Luke Lis, 16, offered a logical reason for dropping by the Jamestown Teen Center’s planning powwow Tuesday night, officially known as Adolescents Making Programs for Teens – or AMPT, for short.

“I want to have a say,” he explained, when the teen center offers an event.

“It’s kind of a big thing,” he added, because otherwise, the adults will plan some “lame” activities. That’s unnecessary because kids know what other kids enjoy better than adults.

AMPT recently started its third year, according to Debbie Tungett, teen coordinator, with some new and some familiar faces. Youngsters who want to join are welcome, Tungett said, and the best way to sign up is to drop by the teen center and talk to Tungett or the other staff.

They’re not doing any membership drives, she said, because this year’s group decided they can operate with a minimum of seven members. They didn’t have seven people who showed up every meeting, so this Tuesday, everyone on the panel invited one person, and Luke came with younger brother Eli, 13.

Every year the AMPT youngsters rewrite their rules and set new goals, Tungett said. This year’s rule book starts with a golden rule, being respectful to adults and others, but goes on to exhort youngsters to “be creative” and keep the cell phones on vibrate or silent.

For goals this school year, they will do one event for the community, one event for families, and one event for teens, such as the Skate Fest.

That’s fun because, according to Jake Gillis, 15, “You get to stay out there all night with your friends.” But along with planning the logistics and special touches, like flooding the skate park with outdoor lights, they also have to balance the books, raise money to fund their events, and not go over budget.

“It’s leadership development,” Tungett said. “It gives them a sense of ownership about the teen center.” It also gets them involved with friends and imparts “a sense of pride to reach a goal and earn something for themselves,” she said.

This week, the group brainstormed how to raise money for its upcoming toy drive.

They had a lot of ideas in rapidfi re succession.

“We dress up like beggars,” Kieran McCarthy, 12, said, and ask people for money.

Tungett wanted more specifics.

“Begging isn’t as easy as people think,” Luke said.

But Google did list begging among the major fundraising methods, Tungett said, a fact the youngsters turned up in their research.

They split over whether they wanted to know how much money they raised a year ago. Audrey Tuttle, 15, clapped her hands over her ears when Tungett named the figure of $450.

“I heard that anyway,” Audrey sighed. She is a member of the teen center’s youth staff and feels an employee teenager gives the program some continuity. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be so easy for new members “to figure out what we do here.”

Kieran, meanwhile, thought $450 wasn’t much and said this year they had to do better.

Luke thought the change cups at local stores and restaurants would work, and Tungett asked if anyone knew how much money they could expect to receive from that method.

Kieran thought the change cups would do well if placed at liquor stores.

“Sad, but true,” Luke said.

Luke, a junior at North Kingstown High, said he respects Tungett and her staff’s efforts.

“It’s a really good thing we have this here,” he said, because Jamestown is geographically the middle ground for Newport and North Kingstown teens, and “a lot of people meet” at the teen center who might otherwise never have found each other.

“It’s one-stop shopping,” Tungett said. “We will help you find something with your interests.” She said that it could be cooking, fine arts, photography or learning how to create computer games.

The teen center also filled a need in Luke’s life when he was being homeschooled and needed a place to meet people his own age.

Since he’s started North Kingstown High, though, he “drifted away” from the teen center, he said.

Luke is taking a semester off from sports to focus on schoolwork. “So I can keep my options open,” he said. He may want to pursue an engineering career, but he’s not decided yet.

“I’m still in the early stages of figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life,” he said. “I like science. I like sports.” He is on the cross-country junior varsity team and will probably go out for track in the spring.

“Cross country is just the ability to endure pain and work through it,” he joked. “The only good part is when you’re done.” But he does like to use running to “collect my thoughts at the end of a long day.”

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