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Teen programs aim at life issues

Students in last year’s I.M.A.G.E.S. program make jewelry during a class. The program begins Wednesday and is held 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the East Suffolk Recreation Center.

There are a lot of awkward and uncomfortable issues that come with being a teenager, and the right people aren’t always around to help give teens the tips of the trade.

To help bridge the gap, the Suffolk Parks and Recreation Department has restarted two programs it held last year — Young Gentleman’s Club and I.M.A.G.E.S. – Involving Mature Adolescent Girls, Encouraging Self-Esteem.

“Peer pressure is really making a dent in the self-esteem of our teenagers, and when you see parents being laid off, it can be tough to go home,” said Lakita Frazier, Parks and Recreation director. “It’s tough for kids to recognize their full potential and deal with everyday challenges. Hopefully, with the skills we teach them, they’ll be able to rise above it all.”

I.M.A.G.E.S. begins today and is held on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The Young Gentlemen’s Club began on Tuesday and is held every Tuesday, from 4 to 6 p.m. Both programs are free and require only a membership to the East Suffolk Recreation Center, where they are both held. Membership is $10 and includes access to several other programs and to the facility.

I.M.A.G.E.S. and The Young Gentleman’s Club are designed to teach students the skills they need to deal with life issues such as anger, stress and conflict. Organizers also will tackle topics such as self-esteem.

Athletic and creative activities are also offered.

Each week, business and community leaders will visit participants to reiterate lessons.

“For example, we bring in someone who works in money management to talk about young people about understanding finances, starting a bank account and keeping good credit,” Frazier said.

Other topics discussed include community services, career development, building healthy relationships and the importance of health and active lessons.

For some lessons, such as proper etiquette, the two groups have a joint meeting. But “there are some things girls just don’t want to talk about in front of guys,” Frazier said.

A new facet of the program that Frazier hopes to offer is a trip to local colleges.

“We want them to see their full potential and give them an idea of where they can go,” Frazier said. “We’re hoping to take them to a college football game, even. It’s good to expose them to their environment, but we also want them to see what else is out there. It’s about equipping them to be the best they can be and helping them realize their full potential.”

For more information or to register call 514-4502.