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3:44 AM Sun, July 22nd

Teen center proposed for Prescott

PRESCOTT - Teens want a safe place to hang out - and many don't feel there's a place for them in Prescott.

Courtney Osterfelt, Prescott College instructor and volunteer director of Women's Empowerment Breakthrough (WEB) plans to change that. She's working, alongside other volunteers, to bring a no-pressure teen center to the area.

While WEB focuses on teenage girls, her work on the teen center encompasses both young men and women. She's collaborating with the Yavapai Boys to Men chapter on the proposed teen center.

"They're doing mentorship with young men. We're doing mentorship and educational programming with young women, so we just started teaming up," Osterfelt said. "There's no real place for teens to congregate, especially if they're not involved in a religious organization or Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts."

Osterfelt started the effort in September. Interested individuals, including volunteers, school principals, teens and teachers had a first meeting in November, then met again in March.

The end result of the meetings, Osterfelt said, was that many agreed a teen center is needed. Organizers also conducted surveys to determine interest.

"Teens want an all-inclusive space, where they can get together, do productive stuff, but also just hang out in a healthy environment. Most of the teens who filled out the survey, and ones we've spoken to, definitely voiced a desire for a drug-free, safe space where there aren't adults breathing down their necks, but productive and fun and relaxed," Osterfelt said.

That center, should organizers find the support they need from the community and the City of Prescott, could open in about a year. Osterfelt is currently working on the 501(c)3 process for the teen center, development of a board of directors, a location and initial funding sources.

"I feel like we are getting more and more emails of support every day. My phone is ringing constantly with people who want to be involved," Osterfelt said. "The reason we surveyed teens in Prescott, and parents and teachers, is we really want the town to have ownership over this. We feel that will lead to a more sustainable teen center."

According to the results, 92 percent of 425 surveyed said there are not enough teen-centered activities in Prescott. The majority of those surveyed are teens, who indicated the biggest local issue for them is substance abuse.

To learn more about the proposed center, email Osterfelt at theprescottteencenter@gmail.com.

Teen Center volunteer Luke Volkmann said he is interested in the type of programming that would be offered at the proposed teen center.

"We're kind of figuring out what teens want right now," Volkmann said. "Consistently, teens said they would like dances to be offered. Couches and games, maybe some outdoor games, and academic resources, such as tutoring, could be offered."

Sage Regina grew up in Prescott and said a teen center is long overdue.

"It was always just my friends and I sitting around saying what can we do?" Regina said. "I think a teen center would be a fantastic opportunity to utilize a space just for teens and offer things for them to do there."