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Thursday, 01 September 2011 09:57

Wanting to be The Center for safe, youth fun

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By Aasa Marshall — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 Administrators for The Center in Swift Current want to extend its hours to further provide a safe and positive place for the city’s teens, but it needs more volunteers to make it happen.

 Currently, The Center is open Friday nights until 1 a.m. for students from grades 6 to 12. The facility has a large amount of space with tables, board games, large screen TVs and video game consoles, a stage to host live music and a snack bar.

 It is supervised by adult volunteers and strict rules are in place: no alcohol, no drugs, no bullying, no swearing, and no disrespecting property.

The Center has a coat and bag check to ensure contraband can’t be brought in, and chaperones do a breath check to make sure kids haven’t been drinking.

The drop-in night began in January of this year, and has been a success, with an average of 275 kids attending the centre per Friday night during the school year. Director Jim Magee said he would like to have The Center open for the same hours on Saturday nights as well, but needs adults, from college-age and up, to commit to spending one night per month lending a hand.

 The plan, Magee said, is to have The Center open for grade six, seven, and eight students from 7-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, and for grade nine to 12 students from 9:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Ideally he would like to have at least 80 volunteers who are each willing to work one night per month, so that there can be 10 people chaperoning on each shift. Though some people agree to work more than one night per month, he said, he would prefer not to burn out volunteers.

 The popularity of Friday nights at The Center has proven that there was a need for a place for teenagers to hang out that provided a positive atmosphere. Magee said there is a lot of energy there on a Friday night, and it is a good place for kids to mingle.

 “It's nice to see a grade 12 jock playing ping pong with a grade nine trumpet player,” Magee said. “It's a good mixing bowl for the kids... We've found that some students that are maybe quieter and don't have a lot of friends, they're just sitting around or at a table game and somebody else comes up -  and they end up finding a friend.”

 The positive atmosphere of The Center has been recognized not only by parents, but by probation and social workers as well. If young people have been in trouble with the law in the past they may have a curfew of 10 o’clock, Magee said, but if they’re attending The Center on a Friday they are at times allowed to stay out later.

This is because the authorities agree it is a positive and constructive place for youth to be, and to meet new people who lead more positive lifestyles.

 “It gives them opportunities to meet new people and maybe become the kind of people they truly want to become,” he said.

 As a former high school counsellor, Magee is enthusiastic about his ongoing work with young people, and said The Center is a good place for kids to find a listening ear. The weekend drop-in nights are a good way for kids to gain a relationship and trust with the staff, so if they have a problem, they feel comfortable approaching adults at The Center for help. Volunteers and staff have access to resources if they want to refer a young person to a professional to deal with issues.

 “There are kids who are struggling with suicide or cutting, family break-ups, whatever the issues are we've been able to speak with some of them or refer them to someone else, or bring in the other resource and meet together with them,” said Magee.

 To volunteer at The Center, or for info, contact Jim Magee at 773-8168 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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