Idea #9: Teen/Youth Center

This teen center was reconstructed from an old Pacific Gas & Electric facility in Berkeley, CA and built to LEED Platinum standards. (PHOTO: GreenSource Magazine)

Downtown Spokane desperately needs to solve its “disengaged youth” problem. (Naturally, others might, not-so-respectfully, call it a “street kid” problem.) It has tried playing classical music to try to deter potential congregants. It has tried using a high-pitched “mosquito” to do likewise. But perhaps deterrence is the wrong type of medicine.

Perhaps we need to take a more decisive and solutions-based approach to this problem. Perhaps we need something like a teen/youth center downtown for 13-22 year olds. Currently, there are few such facilities that cater to youth downtown. If we were able to re-route kids off of the streets and into more positive pursuits, then perhaps we could also have a strong chance at reversing the cycle of poverty that plagues many of these children. Especially if such a center offered homework assistance and skills development programs, like word processing clinics and the like. Ideally, it would bring together services from various nonprofit groups under one roof, and while it need not be as fancy as the YMCA-PG&E facility shown above, it could make a big difference and send a positive message to our city’s youth.

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One thought on “Idea #9: Teen/Youth Center

  1. I think it’s so amusing that Spokane thought a high pitched anti-youth deterrent would be effective. What kind of message is that? That kind of approach will only embolden kids to be more disruptive. These kids need connection, and a positive direction to apply their energy. If we could have a place downtown that provided a fun, safe, and appropriate hang-out spot kids might actually use it. It couldn’t be lame though. These streetwise kids would need to have adults and other youth with similar backgrounds working there. They would spot a phony a mile away and never return if they show up and some goober is preaching. A place to enjoy themselves with friends, have access to counseling, educational opportunities, skill center information, connections with responsible adults who can relate to them, and other services could provide hope for many young Spokanites trying to find their way. It could be the choice they make at a place like this where they become the link that breaks the chain of poverty and hopelessness. Or we could just not care, and continue blasting classical music and ‘mosquito’ repellent at them.

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