Some teens are involved in sports, arts or community activities after school. Some go to work at a job. But there are also teens that don’t have anything on their schedule for those after-school hours. That’s why the Woodbury Y offers programs to fill those needs. “The Teen Thrive initiative at the Y provides opportunities for programs for youth during and especially after school,” says Rigel Bloome, Teen Thrive coordinator at the Woodbury Y, which offers a host of programming to involve teens in after-school activities that are fun and engaging.
“It’s really focused on youth who, for various reasons, are not engaged in after-school activities like sports or other things. A lot of my kids come here after school while their parents are still at work,” Bloome says. “Providing another mentor is really a key. I have a lot of youth here who don’t have both parents in their house or maybe their dad is working three jobs. More adult attention, especially one-on-one, is important.”
The Woodbury Y offers four after-school programs for teens: Youth in Government, YSTART, Leaders Club and STEAM Exploring. “If students participate in four sessions of any program, they get a free membership to the Y,” Bloome says.
Youth in Government is an opportunity for teens to develop their civic leadership skills. The program offers two opportunities—Model UN and Model Assembly—where students work to eventually participate in a multi-day conference with 1,500 other youth in the state. “I love it because you get to share your opinions in a safe environment and get to talk about other people’s point of view in a constructive way,” says Evelyn Harrison, an 11th grader at Math and Science Academy, who participates in the program. “The most important thing I get out of Youth in Government is the ability to speak my opinions publicly and also to have fun.”
“I like that Youth in Government makes kids better by giving us courage to do what we believe is right, giving us a challenge that adults have to face, and proving that different viewpoints and beliefs can promote growth in ways that we don’t see with Democrats, Republicans or other parties,” says Dipali Arora, a 10th grader at East Ridge High School. “I get a community that will always support me in every way, and because of Youth in Government, I have a reason to believe that I will change the world.”
Other popular programs include YSTART and Leaders Club, which are similar programs—grouped by middle schoolers and high schoolers respectively—and focused on leadership development, education, recreation and service learning. “We talk a lot about our four core values—honesty, caring, respect and responsibility—and how we live those in our life,” Bloome says.
The newest program at the Y is STEAM Exploring, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. STEAM Exploring is held on Fridays and engages students in hands-on activities around science and technology.
In addition to the four programs, the Woodbury Y offers a teen area, The Scene, open 3-6 p.m. daily for youth who are registered for a program. Students can hang out, get homework done after school or use the gym. There’s also a youth night once a month.
teen thrive programs
Youth in Government
Attend two conferences January 4-7 & April 5-7
Tuesdays & Thursdays 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Wednesdays 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Fridays 4-5:30 p.m.
For more information, go to the website here.