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Sat, Nov. 16

Chino Valley considers adding a program just for teens
Boys and Girls Club may set up at Community Park

(From left) Isaac Alana, James Long and Kohl Hill relax in front of the Chino Valley Community Center. The town is considering leasing a portion of the building to the Central Arizona Boys and Girls Club to run a program just for teens.
Photo by Ken Sain.

(From left) Isaac Alana, James Long and Kohl Hill relax in front of the Chino Valley Community Center. The town is considering leasing a portion of the building to the Central Arizona Boys and Girls Club to run a program just for teens.

There is not a lot for teenagers to do in Chino Valley. You hear that from Town Council candidates, from parents, and from the teens themselves.

“Not very much, really,” said Kohl Hill, a Chino Valley High School freshman on what there is for teens to do in town. “… There’s not a whole lot to do.”

They may have a new option, starting this spring. The Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona is considering starting a program just for teens and housing it inside the town’s community center. The town’s recreation committee considered the idea at its Wednesday, Nov. 9 meeting. The next step would be to have the Town Council decide if this is something they would endorse, and then if they do support it to work out a lease agreement with the Boys and Girls Club.

“Right now it’s just initial talks, seeing where it can go from here,” said Gerald Szostak, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona. “This is just expanding our programs in Prescott and Prescott Valley, working with kids there … and starting a relationship with Chino Valley.”

Szostak said that the teen program for The Club – teens prefer that name to Boys and Girls Club, which is usually for younger children -- traditionally has three areas to draw them in. First, is a game room, usually with a pool and foosball tables. Second, a social area with television, maybe an Xbox or Playstation. Finally, a quiet space for students to do homework.

In addition, they offer programs such as Keystone, which is designed to teach leadership skills.

“That’s a great thing to have on your college application,” Szostak said.

The Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona started in 1998 but ran into some troubles in 2012, losing most of its membership and having to shut down for a few months in 2014, Szostak said. Since then they have been rebuilding and expanding.

There are 565 children registered with the Boys and Girls Club locations in Prescott and Prescott Valley.

If they open up a location in the Chino Valley Community Center, which is located next to the Aquatics Center in Community Park, then Szostak said the cost for a teen to be a member would be around $40 a year, with lower prices available to families in need.

“It would probably more interesting to come out here to play pool, play foosball, whatever,” Hill said.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said James Long, Hill’s friend.

But would Chino Valley teens be willing to sign up?

“I’d use it, I think it would be fun to take a few friends and go use it,” Long said.

“It’s a close one, because you never know what kids in Chino are going to do these days,” Hill said.

Former Town Manager Robert Smith directed Chris Bartels, the town’s utilities manager, to approach youth organizations to see how the space inside the community center might be used. The town approached a number of groups, but it was the Boys and Girls Club that stepped forward with definitive ideas, Bartels said.

Szostak said if they set up a program in Chino Valley, it would be based on the needs of the town. For example, it might operate only a few hours after school Mondays through Thursday, but be open longer on Fridays when there is no school.

“We want to structure a safe program,” Szostak said.

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