Saturday, August 10, 2002

[photo] Dayton's YMCA Teen Center includes a computer lab, art studio and game room.
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Dayton teens get fun, safe hangout

YWCA opens newest in string of planned centers

By Earnest Winston,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DAYTON, Ky. — When the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati opened its newest teen center Friday evening, it had youngsters like 14-year-old Derrick Turner in mind.

        Before the center opened, the Dayton teen-ager complained that there were no safe places to hang out and socialize with his buddies.

        “The only thing we did was just sit on the corners and we got hassled by cops really bad. They were on us like 24/7. We didn't have anything else to do,” said Derrick, who plans to spend much of his time playing pool and using the lounge.

[photo] Fourteen-year-old Derrick Turner (center) enjoys a game of pool with Justin Radcliff, 15, at the newly opened Dayton YMCA Teen Center.
(Patrick Reddy photos)
| ZOOM |
        A ceremony and a dance kicked off the opening of the YTeens Center. YMCA officials plan to open four more teen centers in the Tristate. A facility in Lawrenceburg opened in June.

        The Dayton teen center will offer programs in leadership development, fine arts and humanities, social services, sports and entrepreneurial business. It will also feature a computer lab, art studio, game room and a coffeehouse.

        In addition, the center will sponsor speakers, band competitions, dances, artwork displays and field trips. The center is targeting sixth- through 12th-graders, who will be charged a $10 registration fee to participate in all activities for the rest of this year.

        “We want teens to know they have a comfortable, safe place to drop in after school,” said Anthony Riccardi, associate vice president of Teen Services at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati.

        Justin Roberts, 14, of Dayton, said he plans to be at the teen center every day it is open.

        “Because it's somewhere to go instead of keeping kids on the streets,” he said.

        Jared Perkins, program director at the Dayton teen center, said he is establishing a leaders club, a group of teens who will help decide some of the programs.

        “They will kind of be my advisory group. The teens will give input and really take a leadership role in what things we do,” he said.

        Mr. Perkins said an artist will teach the teens how to start a business that deals with arts and humanities. Participants will receive certificates at the end of the program, and will make a presentation about their mock business in front of community leaders.

        “That's a good opportunity for them just to get some good skills in public speaking and really know how to start a business and how to understand if this is a good risk,” he said. “It's a program where the students will all be registered on the Internet and there's a site where they'll do their homework online.”

        Seventeen-year-old Josh Furnish of Dayton said he plans to be involved with the leaders club.

        “I think it will help out a lot, because then you'll have teen influence on it, not just what older people think would be good for the teens,” said Josh, who plans to spend a lot of time in the movie room.

        “You could ask your parents to take you out to Florence, but there wasn't anything around here you could do.”

        The teen center, located at 625 Second St., will be open 3-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3-11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.



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