Teen programs build leaders

Published 9:56 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Last November the Suffolk Family YMCA opened a Teen Center, because we wanted to give our teens a place to exercise and hang out. The Teen Center features a 42-inch flat-screen television with a Wii gaming system. The Wii is a great combination of video gaming fun and active physical participation by the user, making it a perfect fit for a YMCA center. The Teen Center also has table tennis and billiards tables. YMCA staff monitor the Center at all times, and our core values of caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and faith are required of all participants.

To say that the Teen Center has been a huge hit would be an understatement. During the summer break, our teens used the Teen Center as a daily meeting place. Rene Vargas, our Youth and Family Director, held shoot-out competitions, as well as table tennis and billiards tournaments throughout the summer, to keep the teens from growing bored.

The Teen Center staff also developed deep friendships with our teen members, and it wasn’t unusual to walk into the Teen Center and see our staff playing friendly card games or attempting to beat a group of teens at Guitar Hero. Now that school is in session, the teens meet at our Teen Center to talk about their day and spend time relaxing with friends on the evenings and weekends in a safe, fun environment.

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The Teen Center is also the meeting place for our Teen Leaders Club. The Teen Leaders Club is a nationally recognized program that encourages teens to become community leaders.

Teens must apply and interview with our youth and family director in order to join the Teen Leaders Club. Once a teen is accepted into the program, he must volunteer in the community, maintain good grades and exercise on a regular basis.

The Teen Leaders Club participates in a variety of YMCA of South Hampton Roads and YMCA of the USA events. This month, our teen leaders are traveling to the Outer Banks YMCA for a teen lock-in. Next summer, the teens will attend a teen leaders’ summit in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Suffolk Family YMCA offers many wonderful social and fitness opportunities for Suffolk teens. If you have teens and are interested in getting them involved in our teen programming, please contact Rene Vargas at 934-9622 or visit our website at www.ymcashr.org for more information.