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A New Hangout for Teens by Alex Kerai

Webmaster Alex Kerai interviewed Molly Williams last week about her task to create the new Marblehead Teen Center across from the fire station and how it could affect the teenage community.

Last Thursday I sat down with Ms. Molly Williams, the executive director of “Marblehead for Teens”, to talk about the new teen center that she has helped to pioneer for Marblehead.  She told me that idea came about “eight years ago when parents where asking what was missing from Marblehead.  The parents agreed that the kids needed something to do with their free time and the teens needed a hangout.” That’s where Marblehead for Teens comes in. The non-profit group plans to build a brand new teen center across the street from the fire-station where Sundance preschool used to be. But Marblehead for Teens is different than the YMCA or the JCC. Instead of having everything be run by adult boards with adult supervisors who decide the activities and schedules, Marblehead for Teens is completely teen run with minimal adult supervision (the goal is for college students to supervise).  Ms. Williams compared the program to Pleon Yacht Club, where the kids run the club and the kids decide what they want to do. If they kids want to have pizza party fridays, they can! If they want to do have football sundays, they can! It’s all up to them. 

Ms. Williams said that the goal is to have a Leadership Council “made up of teens from the High School who volunteer time and help to run the center. It would be a council of thirty or so kids representing many ages, groups, and ideas.” This council would help make the decisions about pizza party fridays and football sundays. Ms. Williams said that any idea that the kids have is taken the leadership council and the kids get to pitch their ideas. If it could work, it happens.

The center would be open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2:30 until 6:00 pm, Friday from 2:30 until 10:30 pm, and on Sundays 3:00 until 10:30 pm. It would always be staffed by two adults. The building has room for a café and lounge, game room, music and art room and space for dances or concerts on the weekends– but it is all up to the kids! The kids decide what they want to do with the building. One of the great things about the Teen Center is that is walking distance from the middle school and high school and that it is also close to the fire and police stations, so it is safe and secure.

Ms. Williams and I also got to talking about how the money would be raised for the teen center, there could be lots of things that the kids want to do with it (flat-screen TVs, game rooms) that require money. She said that to start there would be a campaign (hopefully run by the Teen Leadership Council) to raise awareness for the Teen Center and to also raise money. Then once the Teen Center has begun, there will be memberships available: $50/year with a $10 café voucher for High School students and $15/year with a $5 café voucher for 7th-8th Grace students, guest passes would also be available for $5/day.

Over the course of hour and a half conversation, Ms. Williams told me how she hopes that the Teen Center will come to represent a “home base” for teens in Marblehead and that it will spawn collaborations with the YMCA and JCC. More importantly, she hopes that the Teen Center will be a fun place for kids to go and hang out. “Right now,” she says. “I am just focused on getting my Teen Leadership Council together and getting the programming going.” 

If you are a student at MHS and want to learn more at Marblehead for Teens please visit Mrs. Norman in the front office. If you have more questions about Marblehead for Teens visit marbleheadforteens.org or email Molly Williams at molly@marbleheadforteens.org

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Brutally Honest October 26, 2012 at 03:01 PM
What teen is going to spend time at this center, supervised by adults, or not? Most parents give their 12yr olds free roam of the town. Have you not see the hoards of unsupervised kids on every street corner during the summer? No child is going to opt for any kind of supervision if they don't have to.
Gatsby October 27, 2012 at 01:54 PM
The first two comments come from the exact type of people who are literally ruining this country. Negative, divisive, sarcastic, pessimistic. Perhaps if there were a healthy option for hanging out when you were teens you would feel such hopelessness. Good luck with that!
Brutally Honest October 27, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Being a productive member of society who has avoided substances, and was held responsible for their actions by their parents when they were children is how I am ruining this country?? Take a look around this town, sure, there are some great kids going places, but I have seen/met more 12yr old wanna-be thugs and skate brats whose parents couldn't give a damn about what they are doing, and they know it. We have all been teenagers, and in this day in age, there are going to be more kids who opt out of going to a supervised location, than opting in. They may not be upto trouble, but if they can avoid supervision like they have been, they will.
Gatsby October 30, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Let's just legalize pot and be sure there are plenty of free condoms available then. Or, how about we give it a try? Otherwise that building wil just become another pizza place or pets store, just what we need in town, huh? I have a 12 y/o and a 14 y/o. We know all their friends and most of their parents. Other than the occasional "Eddie Haskell" type, I think we are doing OK. My guess is that if your only meeting the "thugs" in town you may want to see why your kids are gravitating to them. If you don't have a 12 y/o of your own I wonder then how you are seeing/meeting so many of the towns 12 year olds that your assessment could be accurate? Kinda creepy.
Ben Labovitz November 05, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Having grown up in this town at at time when the pendulum swung the other way, I have to say this got me excited. I can't deny that there are plenty of kids (I was one of them!) who haven't either had something good to do in town or haven't felt like it was for them and turned to some "anti-social" (a very charged and subjective term) habits. Think for a minute though what these kids in the last decade or so have faced-economic hardship (yes even here), the destruction of the school system, elimination of all kinds of non-scholastic activity. Despairing about the state of "the youth" does nothing to fix it, it perpetuates it. Youth focused, and youth LED organizations coming up in this town can do nothing but good and I for one laud Ms. William's initiative and wish it the best of luck.

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