(Host) Teen centers around Vermont will get some needed money thanks to a federal grant secured by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
The funds will help pay for health and fitness programs. The teen centers provide after-school and weekend activities for kids, and help them avoid drugs and other unhealthy behaviors.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) Sanders announced the $133,000 dollar grant at the Montpelier teen center. It’s a spacious room on the ground floor of City Hall, equipped with stereo equipment, a pool table, guitars and video games.
Displayed on a wall are photos of teenagers riding rafts through white water rapids. The pictures are of a trip the Montpelier teens took two years ago – a trip they helped pay for with a similar federal grant.
George Karpoff is the unit director of the teen center. He says the teens will decide what projects to fund.
(Karpoff) “We just try to provide programming and activity that keeps their mind working as well as their bodies, and be a place where they can come, be themselves, hang out, and not have to do what someone is basically telling what to do. In school, someone is telling them what to do all day. They go home, their parents tell them what to do. We want to be a place where it’s like what do you want to do?”
(Dillon) Sanders says he’s supported teen centers since he was mayor of Burlington in the 1980s. He says the programs provide needed after-school activities in an environment free of drugs and violence.
(Sanders) “And we live in a society now in tough economic times. We have a situation with both mom and dad working – there is nobody at home. What I see happening around this state is that there are a lot of kids who after school spend their time hanging around on street corners getting tempted to do self-destructive type activities.”
(Dillon) There are 42 teen centers around the state. Thirty will get grants of between $1,500 and $2,000 to be used for health and fitness-related programs.
Hope Emerson is statewide coordinator for the Vermont Coalition of Teen Centers. She says some of the money will be used to prevent obesity.
(Emerson) “But when you’re talking to kids, you don’t say, `Come over to the teen center. We’re going to teach you about food and nutrition.’ We say, `Come over to the teen center. We’re going to feed you.”’
(Dillon) Sanders also announced a separate $66,000 grant for the city of Barre to help build a skateboard park. Stephanie Quaranta is city recreation director. She says the kids will develop the park themselves, with help from professionals.
(Quaranta) “They will build the ramps with the guidance of a carpenter and professional builders and we will develop a site. They will also have to work hard to meet with their peers and it’s also going to involve a lot of community folks to make it happen.”
(Dillon) Sanders also traveled to southern Vermont to announce grants for youth programs in Bennington and West Brattleboro.
For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier