To what extent should be the city be involved in providing activities and/or a center for teens?
A game hub would bring people together
I think the city should be more involved in giving teens places they can go without spending money. I’ve found that my friends and I struggle to do anything because there’s nowhere we can go. A good investment for the city, in my opinion, would be a skate park. Skating is a popular activity and it would benefit not just the teen population, but children and adults as well. Skate parks give teens a place to go with things to do.
As for a teen center, I think a video game hub in the center would bring lots of positive attention. I’ve heard of places in cities where people can sit down and play video games with each other. In a world where technology divides people, we can use technology to bring people together. Giving teens something to do besides sit at home will be beneficial in shaping and supporting generations to come. — Lizzie Wicks
Teen centers only last a few months
Hark! “Tis spring and calls for a teen center can be heard throughout the land.” I have only lived in Knox County since the 1940s, so I’m not sure when people started saying “We need a teen center so the kids will have something to do.” My mother was a member of the GHS Class of 1942 and they organized a teen center in the old post office building. Like all teen centers since then, it lasted a few months and then closed.
They added a new entrance to the YMCA for the teen center when I was in high school. You see, I was from Abingdon and there was nothing to do there, so we came to Galesburg. Oh, wait. Isn’t that what the kids in Galesburg are complaining about?
Sure, let’s open a new teen center for a few months. Then the cycle can start all over again. — Harry Bulkeley
Invest in kids; they will give back as adults
How many kids do you want to “slip through the cracks?” If there’s nothing for us to do, we will certainly find something, but if that winds up leading us down the wrong path, who’s to say we come back? a teen, and it really does feel like there’s nothing to do here. You can only go to the same restaurants and stores, or drive on Henderson, so many times. we are driving to other cities just to shop.
How involved should the city be in giving to teens? I’d say; quite involved. To quote my youth article “Youth are the fuel of the future,” so to the city I say — invest in them. Give them things to do, even if it feels like it’s their parent’s job to do so. Give them a place to go, and ask them what they would like there. They will give back when they take over as the next generation living in the city. — Sarah Brown
Providing activities popular with teens is expensive
First, many do not understand the cost of running a business/facility like the bowling alley, roller rink or even something akin to the TBK entertainment center in Bettendorf, Iowa. I might add that the TBK center would be the definition of joyful bliss for a teen with its arcade, bowling, laser tag, etc. It won’t fly in Galesburg though. At TBK for one game of Laser tag and 30 minutes worth of arcade fun: $20. A soft pretzel is $12. I think you get my drift.
Then there is the “City Activity Center” crowd. Churchill is raised on high as the mecca of saving our youth from boredom at a cost of $5-10 million. The wishful thinking residents here have to realize that what you offer has to match the socio-economic conditions of the area. So, in effect, much of it has to be “free” for kids/teens. There is an expense though in the form of tax money used, grant money, volunteer work, electricity, salaries, minimal usage fees for citizens and specific PROGRAMS that will keep the interest of youth. Why doesn’t the city partner with the Carver Center to make something happen instead of the overpriced and eventual money-munching Churchill project? — Stephen Podwojski
City capable of turning Churchill into vibrant center
Part of the teenage experience is hanging out with friends and classmates in places that aren’t always under the watchful eyes of parents or older siblings charged with babysitting. Allowing this type of independence is part of the development process. It’s not an exaggeration for young people in Galesburg to say there aren’t enough activities for them. The city could make a significant investment in its youth by partnering with them and providing a place teens would want to frequent.
Renovating the Churchill Junior High building into a vibrant community center is something the city is capable of doing. Securing a building is only a portion of what needs to happen. Creating activities that teens want to participate in will determine how successful this initiative will be. Programs involving music, artistic expression, or technology are all possibilities to explore. It’s not the city’s responsibility to provide entertainment, but it can step in and help fill a void that exists. Whatever programs are created, they need to be inclusive for everyone. — John Hunigan
Teens will get bored with teen center
Two things came immediately to mind when I read the article and the interviews with the teens. The first is the stunning lack of imagination and initiative displayed by those respondents. Their complaints are not new; they’ve been going on for millennia at least. They usually come from the least imaginative of the group.
Next, city officials ought to be real careful with what they do and spend. I can conceive of a multi-million dollar facility with a huge amount of “stuff” and extensive programs/activities that will be very successful and well utilized — until the teens get bored with it — and they will. After all, boredom exists in the mind of the beholder, not in stuff or programs. — Charlie Gruner
Focus on the programming, not the building
In its best years, Sandburg Mall offered a space in which to walk around, see and be seen, shop, and sometimes get a snack, so it was a magnet for kids looking for a place to go. But the Carver Center, Skate Palace, Northgate Lanes, and Lakeside Waterpark were places where they could engage in activities that required focus and skill and were both challenging and fun. They were places where youth could “engage with others in a place where they (felt) safe, welcome, and respected.”
Galesburg needs to be able to provide similar opportunities for gathering and for activities which will appeal to a wide spectrum of kids. I hope planning for and allocating the budget to support such opportunities, and pay for the people to run the locations, activities, and programming involved, will precede any decision on a plan to spend $5 million to refurbish a building. Joey Range is right, it will be the programming that draws the kids in. — Laurie Muelder
Young folks like action, challenges
Every story of this nature suggests that the only answer is another government program. Our present system seems to guarantee that young people will be bored and cynical.
Young folks like action, challenges, and a hint of danger. William James expressed this forcefully in his essay on Alternatives to War. So what do we provide? Sports, yes, but with the consolidation of schools, there are fewer ever teams; average students (especially late bloomers) are overlooked.
When I was an assistant scoutmaster, we kept our charges busy! Camping, hiking, looking for snakes (they loved that!), and canoeing. We brought them home tired and somewhat better prepared to become adults.
The jobs I did as a teenager are now unavailable, thanks to well-meaning legislators. I earned little, but I learned to value that. Each kept me busy and taught me what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life. — William Urban
The Community Roundtable runs each Sunday and is made up of local writers. Community writers answer one question each week in 150 words or fewer.