Have you ever wondered what happened to basic life skill education? The days of Home Economics are long gone, but here at Sumner Teen Center, we take a serious interest in the future of our young people. Teenagers are the most underserved group of individuals in the non-profit world, but it shouldn’t be that way!
One of the first students through our doors did not make eye contact when she was introduced by her mother. She seemed shy and had very little to say as we toured the facility. Fortunately for us and for her, Annie continued coming to the facility, and made lots of friends, going on to graduate as one of our most outgoing and friendliest students to date. Prior to Annie’s first visit, she had moved to our community from another state, after she attempted to take her own life. A bullying incident took her to the brink, and they moved here to start fresh. Annie is only the first of many compelling stories about how being involved at the teen center helped to change a life.
We entertain, educate, and encourage any student from 13 to 18 years of age, which is over 60,000 students within a 10 mile radius. Membership is free, and it includes learning everything from how to cook on the grill to how to change a tire. They will laugh with each other, recognize that they are not alone, and become more confident and self-motivated. We utilize the assets of our community (it’s people) to share knowledge and express our respect for who these kids will become. They are our future factory workers as well as food and retail workers. They are the next generation of lawyers, medical practitioners, engineers and estate planners and they WILL influence our future. So, we are investing ourselves in them.
Here is what we do: We provide free training in life skills, career exploration, leadership and soft skills. We provide an environment where students can ‘hang-out’ supervised and safe and have a great time. We provide a facility where students can share their interests or have a party. We are taking serious steps to reduce teen suicide, depression, drug use, bullying and identity confusion, by showing these kids they are important, and they are loved.
We believe that EVERY teenager needs something! They are a generation that has access to all the information they will ever need, but didn’t think to ask. We are here to help them on their journey to becoming an adult, and we just might give them a nugget of wisdom, an encouraging word, or just a memory that will help them on their way.