Investing in Youth and Teens
Hundreds of area youth will soon be able to enjoy a safe and healthy place they can call their own, thanks to a major project currently under construction at the YMCA Allard Center of Goffstown.
“We’re excited about the progress of our new Center for Youth and Teen Leadership,” says Bob McKenney, Branch Director at YMCA Allard Center of Goffstown. “We expect to have programs in place for the late spring and then be fully operational for the start of the 2017-2018 school year.”
The new Center, which will be housed at the YMCA Allard Center of Goffstown, will provide a broad spectrum of services and programs aimed at area youth said Mr. McKenney. They include:
- Leadership development, training, college and career support
- Healthy lifestyles
- Academic support, tutoring services and mentoring
- Positive peer interactions
Educational and exercise programs will be also be offered. The Center will serve as a meeting place for the Teen Leaders Club and other groups with amenities such as computers, gaming stations, and a kitchen.
During school hours, the Center will provide a dual purpose by serving as a site for many of the Y’s Life Long Wellness Programs, which are aimed at active older adults. Mr. McKenney added that another exciting component of the center would be multi-generational offerings in which teens collaborate with older adults in a range of activities.
The new Center is part of a two-pronged approach by the association to address a key community issue, explained Michele Sheppard, COO at The Granite YMCA. “There’s an acute community need for safe and nurturing spaces for youth and teens during non-school hours,” she said. “This new Center, in addition to the improvements The Granite YMCA is making to its Teen Center in the YMCA of Downtown Manchester branch, will have a major impact on helping support healthy futures for more than 2,000 area youth."
Ms. Sheppard went on to say that the new and expanded Centers for Youth and Teen Leadership at both facilities will provide youth and teens with a safe, supportive and growth-oriented environment during after school and out-of-school time periods. “Statistically, we know that these are the times in which kids are most susceptible to engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as alcohol use, drug or tobacco use and other dangerous activities,” stated Ms. Sheppard.
While annually ranked among the healthier states in the U.S., NH is unfortunately among the worst in the nation for drug abuse in youth, with the opioid epidemic a painful reality of life for many. Other challenges in the YMCA’s primary service area include lower literacy, compromised health status, poverty and a higher population of non-English speaking residents. “These challenges and others are why The Granite YMCA placed such a high priority on these projects,” noted Ms. Sheppard.
Funding for the project has been made possible by the YMCA’s “Where Lives Change” capital campaign, a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and other donations. “The community has really stepped up in support of this project,” added Ms. Sheppard. “We are also very grateful for the vision and support from the Hillsborough County Commissioners in helping us to secure a Community Development Block Grant. They have truly made kids a priority in our county.”
Harvey Construction Company of Bedford is serving as the builder for the new center, which is expected to be completed in June.
About The Granite YMCA:
As one of the state’s longest standing and most enduring non-profits, The Granite YMCA focuses on youth development, healthy living, social responsibility, and family strengthening. Across the state, its six branches engage 30,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to improve their health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. In 2016, The Granite YMCA provided financial assistance and free services valued at over $1.63 million to 19,872 individuals. To learn more, please visit www.graniteymca.org.