Ferguson teen outreach center gets a facelift
The Ferguson Youth Initiative now has a more inviting space for local teens to study and have fun. A couple dozen volunteers spent the past two weekends renovating the workshop bay and basement behind Ferguson City Hall for the teen outreach program.
Youth initiative members said Saturday the space now feels more like a place they want to hang out.
“It’s important because sometimes, before we started this program, (teens) didn’t have anywhere to go,” said Brandon Pappert, 17.
Having a place for teens helps because it brings together groups from diverse backgrounds, added Parris Nathan, also 17.
“I mean, we’ve gone to school together for years but it wasn’t really until we started doing stuff with FYI (Ferguson Youth Initiative) that we became closer,” said Nathan.
According to Nathan’s sister Cynthia, 15, the opportunity to speak up about what youth need as part of the initiative is equally important.
“FYI is not only a teen hang out but it’s more like a teen melting pot for us from different social circles to come together and say what we think should be going on in Ferguson,” Cynthia Nathan said.
FYI’s youth advisory board has been planning monthly get-togethers like pool parties and open mic nights since 2010. Now, the newly renovated space will also serve as a teen drop-in center, said Dwayne T. James, Ferguson Youth Initiative board president.
Beginning this Wednesday and Thursday, the location will be open from 3:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. for teens to “hang out, get access to computers, Wi-Fi, tutoring and a support system,” James said.
Architecture firm HOK organized the renovation, which included new furniture, flooring and paint.
The new space also has a stage, computer stations and a craft area.
According to HOK architect Patrick Gleason, the company wanted to support the Ferguson Youth Intiative because teenagers “represent the up-and-coming members of our society and our community, and the future contributors of everything we hope St. Louis becomes.”
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.