Teen Center a ‘No-Brainer’ for Keeping Teens Safe, Active

2015-06-19 17.13.54In June 2015, a new Teen Center—run by Marin City youth leaders—opened to give young people a place to gather as well as learn skills that can be helpful for work and in life. The Teen Center is the first of its kind in the community.

The space provides something for everyone.

There is recreational equipment including a pool table along with foosball and air hockey games as well as couches and chairs that provide a place for friends to meet and talk. A stage along one wall creates the set up for musical performances and poetry readings.

Teens have the opportunity to pursue their passions and possible job interests—guest speakers talk about their careers and how teens can apply for local jobs. A shoe customizer whose designs have been picked up by athletes like Warriors player Stephen Curry recently visited the center and showed teens how he does his work.

“We’ve created a fun and safe space for teens,” says Amber Allen-Peirson, Program Coordinator for the Teen Center and Teen Council. “They learn job and life skills and are able to give back to the community, too.”

A regular speaker series features community leaders sharing opportunities to get involved in improving Marin City. Black Lives Matter activists discussed ways for Marin City teens to start a local chapter; the head of a local fatherhood program had teen volunteers help set up for an Easter egg hunt.

The County probation department contributed funding to open the Teen Center to create opportunities for teens to stay active throughout the year while also starting to think about their futures.

IMG_1199“It was a no-brainer for us,” says Kevin Coleman, Deputy Probation Officer and long-time Marin City resident. “We wanted to help young people in the community and give them somewhere to go, to meet friends and have fun, but also to learn and grow.”

Teens actively lead programming and activities at the Teen Center through the Teen Council. 12 teens are currently on the council and it will grow to 15 youth in the coming months. The Council is planning a late spring youth empowerment conference that will bring Marin City teens together with young people from the East Bay.

Around 30 teens drop into the center each day, with double that many attending center events. “I meet at least one new teen every day,” says Allen. “They don’t only come from Marin City, we see teens from neighboring communities including Novato and Mill Valley as well.”

Kaiser Permanente provided seed funding for the Teen Center to which the County Board of Supervisors also contributed resources.